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Contact: Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
March 18, 2002

Carnegie Mellon Students Host Medical Robotics Competition To Simulate New Surgical Tools

PITTSBURGH—Just imagine, a single technology so incredibly versatile that it can fight disease, forestall aging, clean up toxic waste, and build roads and automobiles. And that's just the beginning. That's what the proponents of nanotechnology claim is possible. The idea of nanotechnology is very much in the scientific mainstream, with research labs all over the world trying to make it work.

At Carnegie Mellon University, researchers are working on several nanotechnology projects, as well as bone tissue engineering, the future of silicon-based computer technology and the development of new data storage. It is all being made possible, in part, from a university partnership with the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance (PITA).

"The mission of PITA is to assist Pennsylvania and its companies to capitalize on a decade-long performance by national engineering research centers, and to retain technology-educated students in the state," said Cristina Amon, co-director of The Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at Carnegie Mellon. "By creating an environment linking Pennsylvania companies, our PITA ties also create higher-paying jobs."

In the past decade, PITA has funded more than 20 state technology projects in partnership with 50 companies, involving more than 100 faculty and 300 students. Several spinoff companies also have benefited from the PITA alliance. At Carnegie Mellon, for example, six companies have been spun out of ongoing research, creating jobs and commercial products to the state's growing technology sector. Some of those companies include BodyMedia, a maker of monitors to detect health maladies; Elefon, a company that created knowledge management software for business; and Bone Craft, creators of computer-assisted surgical tools for operating rooms.

In addition to creating new technologies and products for Pennsylvania companies and their agencies, the alliance also develops relationships between students and companies. Bombardier Transportation, one of the largest transportation companies in the world, is working with students from Carnegie Mellon and Lehigh to help create new materials and technologies to reduce the cost and normal construction time for these automated transportation systems which typically cost more than $200 million to build and maintain.

The PITA alliance, which includes the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon and Lehigh, has received about $8 million in the past four years. Both universities also have obtained an additional $12 million in funds from a variety of sources, including industry and the federal government.


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