Two new projects show UC Berkeley's forward-thinking influence

In many ways, the city of Berkeley is centered around the university that employs many of its citizens and educates a large number of its residents. The school's campus stretches across much of the city, and its graduates often remain in the area after graduating to start or join local businesses. Because of this, it is important for people who are considering buying one of the homes for sale in Berkeley to know about how the famous university is currently planning to increase its connection to the surrounding community.

Worldwide connections
Recently, UC Berkeley announced that it had been awarded $20 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a multidisciplinary Development Impact Lab, according to The Daily Californian. This program will help the college become one of the first schools to explore the new field of developmental engineering. This course of study is aimed at using engineering to alleviate global poverty.

This program demonstrates UC Berkeley's international standing, as the competition for the funding was fierce. The group of seven international universities who will be taking part in the initiative includes Duke and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.

"Through this network...we will recapture the legacy of science, technology and innovation as core drivers of development - as well as inspire and support the next generation of leaders," Rajiv Shah, the administrator for USAID, told the news source.

The mission of the new program could have an enormous impact on the future of the university and the world at large. However, another program with which Berkeley is involved focuses on a smaller region - California - but is not much smaller in scope.

A modern railroad
California has been toying with the idea of adding a high-speed train line to connect the northern and southern portions of the state. The project is considered to be one of the most daring undertakings in the state's long history of public transportation projects. Unsurprisingly, the people responsible for the initiative are turning to UC Berkeley professors and scholars for their input.

"It is the project of the century," Bill Ibbs, a civil engineering professor at the university, told Mercury News.

Based on the specifications for the project, it appears that Ibbs is not overstating the scale of the undertaking. According to the source, the plan calls for a 141-mile track that winds through two mountain ranges, rises hundreds of the feet in the air over canyons and delves 500 feet underground over the course of its journey from Bakersfield to Los Angeles.

Although it is a state project, the expertise at universities across the state, including UC Berkeley, is being tapped to identify the most creative and practical ways to accomplish this incredible feat of architectural design.

UC Berkeley's pull
These two initiatives demonstrate how UC Berkeley continues to be an influential institution of higher learning, not just to the city of Berkeley, but to California and beyond. Programs like these help Berkeley attract thousands of creative graduate and undergraduate students each year. Furthermore, the university's international reputation and extensive history ensure that field-leading professors will continue to comprise a fair share of its faculty for years to come.

Together, these characteristics help the city of Berkeley remain one of California's most desirable places to live. In fact, the continued appeal of UC Berkeley and the strong job market have helped Berkeley have one of the strongest early autumns in several years in terms of housing market growth. According to real estate analytics firm DataQuick, the median sale price for a home in Berkeley rose to $649,000 in September - a 7 percent increase over last year.