Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2)

Two students working in a laser lab with blue lighting

The Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2)

The Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) is our new vision for modernizing, streamlining, and strengthening the path students follow as they pursue their undergraduate careers. 

Pi2 Summer Scholars Program

Pi2 is currently offering a program during the summer for undergraduates to perform research. For important dates and information about applying to the program please visit the Pi2 2024 Summer Scholars Program page.

Pi2 In the News

Read this article on how the Pi2 Summer Scholars Program is strengthening the path students follow as they pursue their undergraduate careers.

Inspiring Creativity, Nurturing Curiosity, Encouraging Exploration

The educational mission of Berkeley Physics is to equip students with the skills, motivation, and confidence to become creative scientists. More than mastering facts and figures, we want our students to become         

• inquisitive - able to question their own understanding and delve deeper
• problem solvers - able to confidently seek answers through laboratory explorations and critical analysis 
• collaborative - able to contribute to the learning of others while validating their own discoveries, through discussion and debate 

A Focus on Physics 7 & 8

Physics 7 and Physics 8 are two of the most important courses Berkeley Physics offers for lower division undergraduates. Each series comprises multiple semesters of lecture and laboratory sessions. They serve more than 4,000 students every year.

  • Physics 7 serves students in astronomy, chemistry, engineering, earth and planetary science, physics, and statistics.
  • Physics 8 serves students in architecture, biochemistry, biosciences, and pre-med.

Reinvention of Physics 7 and 8 is the foundation of a broader Pi2 vision that will enable students to become confident researchers – in Physics or any other field they choose – by the time they leave Berkeley. Those who choose Physics will transition to our capstone Advanced Laboratory Course 111, learn about modern machining and fabrication in an upgraded Student Machine Shop, and step into one of our many research laboratories, where they can continue their scientific growth.

Igniting the Spirit of Discovery

The time has passed when physics could be taught from chalkboard and textbook alone. To succeed to their fullest potential, today's students must be given every opportunity for deep immersion in the tools and methods of research and discovery. 

While Physics 7 and Physics 8 are crucial to student development, they have not been updated in decades. Pi2 will allow us to reinvigorate the Physics 7 and Physics 8 series. Pi2 will:

  • Develop new curricula to build students' understanding of fundamental physics and prepare them for laboratory activities
  • Modernize laboratory equipment and facilities to support new lab activities that emphasize hands-on, student-directed experimentation
  • Introduce modern data acquisition and analysis methods, including data science tools and concepts, into all aspects of the curriculum
  • Create a specially designed Tinkering Studio that enables students to go beyond regular lab assignments and explore on their own

How You Can Help

You can play a crucial role in helping Berkeley Physics shape the next generation of innovators in science and industry. Your gift of any size makes a difference. Or consider the naming options below. 
Fund a Discussion Room, $100,000, to provide collaborative discussion spaces.

Fund a Physics 7 or 8 Student Lab, $150,000, which will allow us to

  • Incorporate data science tools to connect experimental physics with modern scientific challenges.
  • Create an online physics lab to augment students’ experimental learning anytime and anywhere.
  • Connect traditional instructor-guided labs and student-driven experimentation, using the Tinkering Studio as a creative hub.

Fund the new Paul Richards Physics Innovation Lab, $250,000, to be equipped with

  • Up-to-date tools for automated processing and computer aided design
  • 3D printers and laser cutters
  • Soldering and circuitry stations

Fund the upgraded Student Machine Shop, $500,000, which will add

  • Training modules for computer-aided design of experimental probes
  • Training modules for introducing materials, machining, and probe design in the research lab.
  • CNC machines that enable students to develop complex parts.

All gifts of $2,000 or more will be recognized on a special display in Le Conte Hall.

Give Online

Your support of the Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) is highly appreciated. 

Contact us directly to ask questions or to customize your gift:

Rachel Schafer
Director of Development
Mathematical & Physical Sciences
UC Berkeley