Capstone Advisor Highlight: Dr. Gabriel Gomes

by Ashley Villanueva

Each year, the Berkeley MEng oversees a range of Capstone projects. Teams of three to six MEng students work closely with advisors to address present-day industry challenges and help them apply what they are learning in the classroom: technology, communication, business and leadership skills.

As far as Capstone advisors go, Dr. Gabriel Gomes has the broadest Capstone portfolio to-date. This year, he is advising teams working on healthcare analytics, autonomous driving, and utilities.

We had a chance to ask him a few questions before he dives into another year of projects:

How can Berkeley MEng students make the most of their Capstone experience?

From the fifty or so students that I’ve witnessed thus far, I’d say that a willingness to work hard and to work as a team is a big factor. One of the things to remember is that an excellent Capstone can only be achieved with lots of teamwork!

One of the things to remember is that an excellent Capstone can only be achieved with lots of teamwork!

Is there anything different about the way you, your colleagues and students approach problem-solving for MEng Capstone projects?

Yes. There is the fact that teams for MEng projects graduate regularly every year, and that MEng Capstone projects should be worthy of an MEng degree. This adds to the urgency and energy of the projects. Students are eager to work together, and to work with their sponsors. The sponsors, whether they are companies or faculty supervisors, are eager to work with the students. To this add that there is a lot of learning to do in a short period of time. Students must, or rather, have the opportunity to learn the different aspects of their project on the fly: from the math underlying the problem, to data and programming, to production and commercialization. This makes for projects where communication and teamwork as well as individual excellence, really matter.

A Capstone project brief from 2017–18.

What drives you to continue working with MEng students?

I enjoy working with students generally. MEng projects additionally give me the opportunity to work on a broad range of topics, and with lots of interesting people.

What impact do you see engineering leaders making in the next 5 years?

Engineers have always had an impact, and they will continue to have an impact. All of our most pressing problems — poverty, climate change, pollution, social media, traffic, etc. — require an engineering element in their solution. Without engineers, these problems will not be solved. So I hope that there will be more engineering leaders emerging in the near future, and that they will help to guide the solutions to our biggest and most consequential problems.

What are some of the projects that you plan to tackle in the future?

Aside from a few research ideas (which I am sure you’d love for me to reveal!), I am planning to remodel my kitchen!

A sample of 2017–18 Capstone projects advised by Dr. Gomes:

Dr. Gabriel Gomes is a control systems engineer with expertise in the areas of traffic modeling, simulation, and control. He earned his doctorate degree in controls at U.C. Berkeley in 2004 where his research focused on developing ramp metering strategies for the I210 corridor. He then joined the California Center for Innovated Transportation (CCIT) where he participated in several projects spanning a variety of traffic related topics. Connect with Dr. Gomes