OpportunityTech and the Future of Work Lab

Challenge Lab

A Berkeley Changemaker™ Course

INDENG 185 (4 Units)

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Students
  4. /
  5. Courses
  6. /
  7. Challenge Labs
  8. /
  9. Future of Work Challenge Lab

Class Description

AI and automation have significantly changed the way business is done. What will work look like in two years, or in five years, and how can employees and employers be ready?

#OpportunityTech looks beyond jobtech to innovate solutions that promote equitable access, participation, persistence, and advancement in the future of work. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and have the opportunity to harness converging technologies to create an inclusive human-centered future. This course asks students to envision solutions that leverage tech to intentionally promote equitable economic mobility, and to ensure we don’t unintentionally create an underclass of people who are no longer employable because of bias in the systems or their skills being rendered obsolete. 

Students in the OpportunityTech and Future of Work Challenge Lab will be immersed in an entrepreneurial journey to discover and develop disruptive business models for the future of work, workplace and workforce. From job discovery and hiring, to supporting retention and employee wellness, to future proofing skills and upskilling, we need solutions that improve work and meet the growing demand for talent. For example, sectors like cybersecurity and climate change are expected to grow, and new job types such as algorithm bias auditor, and data detective are anticipated to be the new jobs of the future. Specifically, students will develop an understanding of the value and velocity of AI and disruptive technologies in shaping the nature of employment; understand the frameworks of ‘specialized’ vs ‘generalized’ intelligence; and explore innovation with entrepreneurs and other expert guest speakers. Students will explore future work challenges and invent startup solutions that leverage tech (data, ML, AI); prototype solutions; and explore customer ‘value’ models; all while gaining equal fluency in the cultural values and ethical principles that should ground and govern how these tools are designed and used.

Challenge Lab

Challenge Labs (INDENG 185) are classes for students of all academic backgrounds who seek a rigorous, interactive, team-based, and hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and technology. This course uses a unique pedagogy, The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship that involves the use of games, industry guest speakers, team exercises, videos and labs to cover the early part of the startup lifecycle. Each Challenge Lab has a different theme. In this highly experiential course, students form start-up teams to create technology solutions or services to address a broadly-defined problem posed by an industry partner or social challenge.

Berkeley Changemaker

This course is also part of the Berkeley Changemaker suite of courses, which is designed to activate passions and sharpen your sense of where you want to go and how to make that happen, with particular focus on critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

See https://scet.berkeley.edu/newton-series/ and http://changemaker.berkeley.edu for more information.


Anita Balaraman is a scientist turned technology product manager and educator teaching technology product management to graduate students at UC Berkeley and now CMU. Over the last 10+ years, her experience in product management, product strategy & marketing, launching new products at WalmartLabs, Cisco and other ecommerce companies has focused on leveraging AI/ML and NLP related technologies. She describes herself as a hands-on product executive with a track record of conceptualizing the vision, strategy, building, and launching technology that combines machine learning, big data predictive analytics, and personalization. She is currently the founder & CEO of an ed-tech startup in silicon valley, CA, that evolved from an NSF-funded research on the state of higher education and the navigation to successful academic career paths. Anita received her Master's in Science and a MBA from UC Berkeley.

Jill Finlayson is the Director of the EDGE in Technology Initiative at the University of California, which is co-sponsored by CITRIS (The Center for IT Research in the Interest of Society) and the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley. The program focuses on research and initiatives to expand diversity and gender equity in tech. She leads the annual Women in Tech Symposium, Athena Awards, Corporate Round Tables, Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Survey, the EDGE in Tech blog and @EDGEinTech, and programs such as the Leaders in DEI Speaker Series and the Leading Trends in HR Certificate program with UC Berkeley Extension. Prior to Berkeley, she led mentorship and startup programs for Singularity University, the Toys category at eBay, an online community for social entrepreneurs at the Skoll Foundation, marketing at startups, and a practitioner dialogue site at the World Bank called Striking Poverty. She speaks on inclusive, impact-oriented innovation, equitable workplaces, and effective leadership. She has mentored global TechWomen, startup founders, and student innovators (Big Ideas). Finlayson is a graduate of UC Berkeley. She, hers.

View current and previous class offerings of Challenge Lab.

Refer to our Courses page for a full list of SCET courses and current class offerings

and our Certificate page for more information on our Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Technology.


See the Enrollment FAQs on our courses page and certificate page and contact scet-academics@berkeley.edu for additional questions.