BERKELEY -- Just days after Derek Low introduced the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm to the world, his creation set up the UC Berkeley freshman for a showdown with campus housing authorities.

The electrical engineering student designed the most-talked-about dorm room on campus to enliven the crowded little fourth-floor domicile he shares with two roommates.

Since his video of the system went viral on the Web this week, overuse has worn out B.R.A.D.'s voice-controlled features. But it still knows how to throw a party.

Push its comically large red button and the room transforms for fun.

The curtains crank shut, the lights dim, the dance music beat begins with lasers flashing to the rhythm. The black lights come up as the disco ball begins to spin.

It's party time in the 170-square-foot room in Griffiths Hall.

Except for the fog machine. "It sets off the smoke alarm," said Low, who grew up in Singapore. "I don't want the whole building evacuated just because I had a party."

But the dorm police may soon evict B.R.A.D. A residence hall director this week summoned Low to a hearing Friday to explain, as the email said, Low's "vandalism" and other transgressions.

The prospect flabbergasted him, Low said.

The whole works "can be cut down in 10 minutes," he said.

"Berkeley's getting a lot of positive attention from this. This is about innovation and creativity."

He had been careful to follow UC Berkeley rules -- using tape, not nails or staples, to attach wires, lights and motors to the walls.


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The university's housing department was concerned about electrical connections, said spokesman Marty Takimoto, but an electrician found nothing wrong.

Low still needs to appear for the hearing, Takimoto said, to explain a website reference to rewiring the room's light switches -- a serious no-no.

One of Low's two roommates, freshman Jimmy Li, studiously ignored visitors amid the ruckus Wednesday, trying to focus on his computer as the curtains opened and closed, dance music blared and lasers shot forth.

"I guess it's pretty cool the way it came together," Li said. "But I didn't expect it to go so far."

Low finished the system Sunday after three months of work. He hasn't had a chance to use B.R.A.D.'s "romantic mode." The program dims the lights and activates the disco ball while Elton John comes up singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"

"Well," he said as his viral video played on his laptop, showing him striking a sultry pose on a bunk bed, "I'm single, so ... ''

Low, an electrical engineering and computer science major, said he's received several offers from UC Berkeley and outside laboratories to research automation and related fields. Several last-minute internship offers have him considering staying in the United States during the summer rather than returning to Singapore.

"Yeah, you get a cool end product," he said. "But now it's about exploring something new."

Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 510-208-6488. Follow him at Twitter.com/MattKrupnick.