Thursday, October 7, 2010
Project Olympus a show-and-tell of tech talent
Simple nametags were not enough for the crowd filling this week's Project Olympus show-and-tell. Instead of just writing a given name -- how boring -- some attendees included a Twitter handle.
The 10th demonstration of Carnegie Mellon University's early-stage, high-tech companies featured innovators who aspire to mimic Twitter's enormous success, even if the explanations of their concepts quickly exceeded 140 characters.
Headed by CMU computer science professor Lenore Blum, Project Olympus has been credited with helping form more than 38 faculty and student spinoff companies since 2007. The latest gathering featured projects hoping to use computer science to solve some of the world's greatest mysteries -- and make some money off work done in the lab.
The show-and-tell focused on works-in-progress.
Computer science professor Carlos Guestrin demonstrated a search function that connects the dots between events.
He showed how a string of New York Times articles can explain the connection between "Monica Lewinsky" and "Florida recount."
Another duo collectively represented both sides of the brain.
English professor David Kaufer joined computer science professor Ananda Gunawardena in presenting Salon, a social network they designed for interactive reading.
Salon turns classroom reading assignments into living documents, allowing students to add annotations and insights on the Web display that are then visible to the entire group.
The interface mimics a Facebook news feed, though instead of commenting on the drama of your college roommate's love life, you may be discussing Madame Bovary's affairs.
The system is already being used in places such as South Fayette School District and Grove City College.
A rundown of the work being done by Ezugo Nwosu's Antecea firm offered a glimpse into managing a paperless future. Mr. Nwosu's iPhone and iPad applications help transfer files from desktop computers to mobile devices.
Project Olympus provides office space just blocks from campus where entrepreneurs can work.
Two presenters, Mona Abdel-Halim and Ayan Kishore, left their work -- and sleeping bags -- at the office for a demonstration on their company, Careerimp.
A former Olympus project that has since graduated to the Alpha Lab incubation program on the South Side, Careerimp calls itself an online dating service for job-seekers.
A Careerimp program called Resumate allows users to paste a job posting into the program and see their uploaded resume automatically tailored to that position.
But it was computer science professor Jeannette Wing who offered the most encouragement to attendees shopping their own resumes around.
Fresh off a three-year stint at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Wing offered a macro perspective on national trends in computing and said innovation is a top priority of President Barack Obama's administration.
The insatiable demand for constant connectivity has crossed class and gender lines around the world, she said, and provides opportunities to tackle worldwide calamities like hunger and environmental destruction.
The skyrocketing use of computers and mobile technology in the past few years has created a population with impossible expectations for their devices, she said.
"The more we give, the more they want," said Dr. Wing. "So we will always be in business."
Article Courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette