UC Berkeley Sports Tech & Human Performance Grant Awarded

Announcing Sports Tech and Human Performance ~ Spring 2020

Last year’s Sports Tech Challenge Lab received much attention from Cal students eager to dive headfirst into the fields of sports, technology, and science. In the Spring 2020 semester, this new challenge lab will be expanding in both scope and impact. The new course, led by Danielle Vivo and taught by Stephen Torres and Ken Singer, is titled the Sports Tech & Human Performance Challenge Lab.

This revamping of an already sought-after course was possible thanks to support and collaboration from the Robert & Kathleen Dobkin Intuitive Foundation. The Intuitive Foundation aims to support education, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the fields of engineering, technology, medicine, and science. One of their primary areas of focus is human performance.

“For many people, their cognitive abilities fail before their body does… We are investing in human performance to allow people to do the things they enjoy and live their lives as fully as possible as they age.”

Intuitive Foundation website

The goal is for students to delve deep into the issues faced by athletes, teams, and individuals alike, ultimately finding new solutions to address several broad and interwoven categories: Physical Performance & Training, Health & Recovery, Mental & Cognitive Performance, Data & Analytics, eSports, and Gaming. Students will spend 15 weeks undergoing ideation, user validation, testing, feedback, building, and presenting a final prototype at the end of the course. The most successful teams will go on to pitch at the Collider Cup and receive a legitimate chance to fund their venture!

“We hope to bring students from business, law, humanities, engineering, and other technical fields together to experience the importance of cross-disciplinary skills within a business team”

Gabe Fenton, President of the Intuitive Foundation

Bob Dobkin, the philanthropist of the Intuitive Foundation, is also the co-founder and CTO of the semiconductor company Linear Technologies. Founded in 1981, the company has now grown to nearly 5,000 employees with a massive line of 7,800+  products. We had the chance to sit down with Bob for a brief interview hear his thoughts about entrepreneurship & how to build a strong company.

How were you able to keep employees happy at Linear Technologies?

“We maintained competitive salaries, good benefits, and stock options. But people won’t stay loyal to a company for money alone. People were empowered in their own roles. They got credit and recognition when their projects came out. And they were appreciated. We had an atmosphere where people took ownership of what they were doing; each engineer was kind of like their own entrepreneur.”

What was your goal in creating the Intuitive Foundation?

“I wanted to create a foundation that directed funds to a specific goal where I could see measurable progress. Our Foundation has allowed us to do just that. We specifically help out student entrepreneurs as well as schools that are putting on entrepreneurial classes, like the Sports Tech and Human Performance course here at Cal. “

Why is it that the Foundation chose human performance as an area of focus?

“I like technology & its application to new areas. There’s not a lot of technology being applied to human performance. So there are two areas here to focus on. For one, we can improve athletic performance. With technology, we can take measurements, develop training, and use feedback to inform athletes on how to improve. Another is cognitive performance. There is a lot of research being conducted in this realm. In my opinion, any project that can help improve cognitive performance is worth pursuing. This can include mental performance, focus, memory, aging, dementia, etc.”

Why do you think entrepreneurship is so important?

“If you’ve got the desire, you’re using it to build something new that’s never existed before. The act of building is creative; it’s a great way to go. If you can successfully be an entrepreneur, you not only help yourself, you put yourself in a position to help a lot of other people along the way… On the other hand, if you use your education to work for someone else, you can find yourself stuck there for a while. You’re not in a position to see as much personal growth as you would in entrepreneurship.”

Lastly, What piece of advice to you have for an aspiring entrepreneur?

“The best piece of advice that I can give is to pick your goal. Pick your goal and go straight for it. Don’t zig-zag around and allow other things to change your direction. It’s really important to have firmly fixed in your head what you want to do and what you want to accomplish. You should be able to shrug off rejection… Entrepreneurship is really the culmination of all your schooling. Alright, you’ve learned something new. Now go use it!”

We still have a few spots available for this class! Students interesting in taking the Sports Tech & Human Performance course can find more information here.