Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chairman of Microsoft Corp., presented the keynote address today at dedication ceremonies for the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies.
“I'm always inspired when I come here. Inspired by the great minds that are here and the ones that will be coming here,” said Gates. "I'll be following your work and I can't wait to see the great advances that are delivered and the progress that will enable."
Gates specifically called out the pioneering work being done through Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative, and robotics and language technology programs. He also emphasized the role that the university is playing in solving real-world problems with solutions created by interdisciplinary teams.
"Today, over a million people a year die of malaria. That's mostly children in Africa," said Gates. "You wouldn't normally make a connection with malaria [and computer science]. Expect to see great progress [in fighting the disease] because of the kind of technology that's worked on here."
Pittsburgh philanthropists Henry and Elsie Hillman also participated in the daylong celebration of the Gates and Hillman centers at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus.
The newly constructed Gates and Hillman Centers contain classrooms, research space and offices for the School of Computer Science (SCS).
Their design supports a culture of collaboration that is a distinctive trait of the school — and has helped to make Carnegie Mellon one of the world's leading centers for computer science education and research for more than 50 years.
A $20 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a $10 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation were instrumental in making the buildings a reality.
"The generosity of the Gates and Hillman foundations and our many other donors will have a lasting impact on our university," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "These buildings already have transformed our campus, making it more cohesive, more functional and more beautiful. They have been designed from the ground up to meet the needs of our computer science students and faculty, whose work continues to transform science, society and the arts."
Built to be energy efficient and environmentally sensitive, the buildings include 217,000 square-feet of interior space. When all of the landscaping is in place, the project will more than double the amount of green space that previously existed on the 5.6-acre site.
The project was designed by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta, Ga., and landscaped by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass. The buildings feature long sight lines and numerous informal gathering places that encourage impromptu meetings among students, faculty, staff and visitors.
In addition, the buildings serve as crossroads for the entire university community, with five main entrances and two major pedestrian bridges providing new connections to key parts of the 140-acre campus.
A footbridge from the fifth floor of the Gates Center spans a hollow and connects with the Purnell Center for the Arts, providing a direct connection with the center of campus.
The footbridge will be dedicated later this fall in honor of the late Randy Pausch, the famed computer science professor behind "The Last Lecture" who championed collaborations between computer science and the arts.