Carnegie Mellon University

Winter 2009


$150K Starter Kit Grant

Rendell and SchlesingerPennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell presented Carnegie Mellon with $150,000 from Pennsylvania's Keystone Innovation Starter Kit program to recruit a faculty member in the area of modern energy systems and information technology. The grant was part of $2.5 million in funding announced today by Rendell and Rebecca Bagley, deputy secretary of technology investment for the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Ed Schlesinger, head of the university's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, said the grant will augment ongoing energy systems research.

"We have researchers developing advanced software-based tools to make the electric power grid more efficient, reliable and economical to operate, and we currently offer and are developing unique courses essential for future concepts in electric energy systems by identifying links across physical systems and embedded intelligence necessary to make those systems secure, robust and efficient," Schlesinger said.

More than 50 representatives from 11 other colleges and development organizations statewide also received awards during the event.

Carnegie Mellon's Ed Schlesinger and Gov. Ed Rendell are pictured.

Chriss Swaney


Capture the Carbon

Carbon sequestration is a simple sounding idea that's exciting scientists, governments and energy companies as a way to cut emissions without disrupting energy supplies. David A. Dzombak, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon and associate dean of the College of Engineering, discusses some of the challenges and issues with carbon sequestration in this podcast.

Chriss Swaney


Enabling 10 Kidney Transplants

An algorithm devised by Carnegie Mellon computer scientists launched a long-running chain of kidney swaps that thus far has resulted in 10 patients receiving kidney transplants, with the potential for even more.

Tuomas SandholmThe chain of transplants from living donors, initiated by a Michigan man who donated a kidney to a stranger, is detailed in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science, is a co-author of the journal article. The first generation of Carnegie Mellon’s kidney-matching algorithm was developed by Sandholm, Avrim Blum, professor of computer science, and graduate assistant David J. Abraham.

The algorithm was devised to increase the number of kidney transplants by aiding so-called “paired donations.” In these cases, a person who is willing to donate a kidney to a loved one, but is incompatible, is matched with another donor-recipient pair. The Carnegie Mellon algorithm made three- and four-way matches possible, as well as increasing the length of donor chains initiated by altruistic donors. It also is scalable so that it could be used for a national pool of donors and recipients.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees U.S. organ transplants, has announced it is developing a national system for pairing living donors and recipients. For more information, see the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Carnegie MellonToday and this Carnegie Mellon news release.

Pictured is Tuomas Sandholm.

Byron Spice


HCI Students Help OutSystems Improve Design of Software Tools

A Santa Clara, Calif., software company is crediting a 2008 project by graduate students in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute with helping it enhance the user experience of its signature product.

says its joint, eight-month project with the team of master’s degree students has improved the overall user experience of its Agile Platform, which is used by web developers to build and manage business applications.

“Carnegie Mellon University’s excellence in user experience methodologies, and our own ideas and experience, have stimulated innovation throughout the company, leading to a better product for our customers and the industry,” said Carlos Alves, vice president of engineering for OutSystems.

All of the students — Gem Bleasdell, Korina Loumidi, Adam Matthews, Bharathi Pitti and Ceren Sakizli — subsequently earned their degrees and are now employed.

Following HCII methodology on experience-driven user design, the students studied the daily activities of Agile Platform users. This enabled the students to elicit user needs, motivations and overall reaction to the platform. With ergonomics, aesthetics and comfort in mind, the team then prototyped and tested their solutions to overcome the challenges experienced by users.

The company is continuing the research internally as it works to make further improvements.

“Collaborating with OutSystems was a terrific opportunity for our students to really apply their skills to a real-world application,” said Anind Dey, assistant professor of human-computer interaction. “We are thrilled with the outcome and the fact that the industry will benefit from this combined work and innovation with OutSystems.”

For more information, see the OutSystems news release, and the students’ project site,

Byron Spice