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News Clips - December 21, 2007

From December 14 to December 20, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 243 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


A big deal
The Economist | December 19
Doyle Brunson is a poker legend. Twice winner of the game's most prestigious annual tournament, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), held in Las Vegas, the cowboy-hat-clad southerner affectionately known as Texas Dolly also wrote what many consider to be the bible of poker theory, “Super System: A Course in Power Poker”. His reputation among card-shufflers borders on the superhuman. Indeed, after fighting off supposedly terminal cancer in the 1960s, he celebrated his return to the cardrooms with 53 straight wins. Adding to the mystique, both of his World Series titles were won with exactly the same cards: a full house of tens over twos. ... These efforts may produce fascinating results. Or they might reveal nothing much. Even if the data highlight strong trends, it may still not be clear which are caused by skill and which by luck, says Jay Kadane, a statistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studies games.


The claim: A little alcohol can help you beat a cold
The New York Times | December 18
When it comes to quick remedies for colds, many people insist that a glass of brandy or a hot toddy — whiskey with hot water and lemon juice — is just what the doctor ordered. ... Nonetheless, two large studies have found that although moderate drinking will not cure colds, it can help keep them at bay. One, by researchers at Carnegie Mellon in 1993, looked at 391 adults and found that resistance to colds increased with moderate drinking, except in smokers.


Greenspan favors government bailout for homeowners
Bloomberg | December 18
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he favors spending U.S. government money to bail out mortgage borrowers who risk losing their homes because they can't make payments. ... Allan Meltzer, professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said Greenspan's proposal for a cash bailout might cost "hundreds of billions'' of dollars and would be counterproductive.


MBAs acting out
BusinessWeek | December 18
MIT Sloan first-year student Taariq Lewis grasps his long-handled sword as he strides across the stage of the business school's auditorium, draped in regal robes and with a crown on his head. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead…" proclaims Lewis, reciting the lines from Shakespeare's Henry V. ... At Carnegie Mellon, where acting classes were first given about 50 years ago, the classes are extremely popular. Tepper is offering nine sections of its Business Acting elective this year and—in response to student demand—recently added a more advanced-level acting class. Proponents say acting lessons can be a valuable tool in teaching students how to master the non-academic qualities that recruiters and employers seek in potential managers—namely teamwork, leadership, and strong interpersonal skills. According to a 2007 Graduate Management Admission Council corporate survey, companies that recruit and hire MBA students said they primarily focus on the candidate's interpersonal skills during the interview process, with 63% rating interpersonal skills as "very important."


On Facebook, scholars link up with data
The New York Times | December 17
Each day about 1,700 juniors at an East Coast college log on to to accumulate “friends,” compare movie preferences, share videos and exchange cybercocktails and kisses. Unwittingly, these students have become the subjects of academic research. ... Facebook’s network of 58 million active users and its status as the sixth-most-trafficked Web site in the United States have made it an irresistible subject for many types of academic research. Scholars at Carnegie Mellon used the site to look at privacy issues. Researchers at the University of Colorado analyzed how Facebook instantly disseminated details about the Virginia Tech shootings in April.


3 more universities join $10-million club in annual revenue from licensing inventions
The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) | December 14
The number of universities earning more than $10-million annually from their licensing of inventions inched up in the 2006 fiscal year, according to survey results released last week. A summary report on the survey, conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers, also suggests that universities created a record number of start-up companies based on inventions by their researchers. ... Carnegie Mellon University is among those that have been making spinoffs a high priority. It reported forming 12 such companies in 2006, versus just two in 2003. The new ventures include Deep Local, which makes mapping technology, and Sim Ops Studios, which uses video-game technology to train firefighters and other first responders. Both companies are based in the university's hometown of Pittsburgh.


GE chief sees growth opportunities in 2008
USA Today | December 14
Many executives would find it hard to be cheery as they enter a new year marked by a wobbly economy, uncertain political trends and new technologies that pose profound challenges to old business models. Yet General Electric (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt seems buoyant. ... Immelt discussed his company's challenges and opportunities with USA TODAY's David Lieberman at the seventh USA TODAY CEO Forum, in conjunction with the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.


Washington technology digest
IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online | December Issue
A robotized, self-driving 2007 Chevy Tahoe called Boss made history by driving swiftly and safely while sharing the road with human drivers and other robots. The feat earned Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing first place in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Urban Challenge. DARPA officials declared Boss the winner of the Nov. 3 event, which pitted 11 autonomous vehicles against each other on a course of suburban/urban roadways. After reviewing judges' scorecards overnight, DARPA officials concluded that Boss followed California driving laws as it navigated the course and that it operated in a safe and stable manner.

Education for Leadership

Student innovation could be boon to economy
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | December 14
An Army captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq wants to take the idea behind a battle-tested computer program and apply it to civilian use -- selling knowledge over the Internet for a fee. Carnegie Mellon University graduate student Brian Wirtz has a vision for an Internet-based company that would connect people looking for information with experts who could provide it. The experts would post their qualifications and their fees for service. ... Project Olympus, which started with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments to CMU's School of Computer Science, "is trying to create a culture within the university campus that will promote entrepreneurial activity," said Lenore Blum, director of Project Olympus and a professor at the School of Computer Science.


Lawrenceville awaits opening of new Children's Hospital
Pittsburgh Business Times | December 14
No longer a strip of shuttered stores and run-down office buildings, Lawrenceville has made significant strides in recent years. And now, as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center works to complete its 1.3 million-square-foot new Children's Hospital, developers, property owners and others are increasingly hopeful that the new facility will mean even more investment in the once-struggling neighborhood. Average home values in Pittsburgh's 6th and 9th wards, Lower and Central Lawrenceville respectively, have appreciated 8 percent a year since 1997, according to a recent study by students at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.

Arts and Humanities

Music review: Two groups present Bach holiday treat
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | December 17
Sometimes it's better late than never. In an inspired Pittsburgh collaboration, the Renaissance & Baroque Society and the Pitt Department of Music presented Pitt's Bach & the Baroque in J.S. Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" at Heinz Chapel over the weekend. By equally splitting between the Saturday and Sunday performances the six cantatas, all geared to various days during Christmas, the two groups achieved something that has never been done in Pittsburgh before -- being the first here to present Bach's work in its entirety on period instruments. ... Sometimes love can carry you only so far, but not here. With concertmaster and Chatham Baroque violinist Julie Andrijeski's help, they assembled a superlative orchestra from across the country, with masters on period instruments including Barry Bauguess, trumpet, Adam Pearl, organ, Rebecca Humphrey, baroque cello, Carnegie Mellon's Stephen Schultz, flute, and Washington McClain, oboe.


Newsmaker: Volker Hartkopf
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | December 16
Occupation: Professor and director of the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture. Noteworthy: The Intelligent Workplace and Advanced Building Systems Integration Consortium, two pioneering architectural programs run by Volker Hartkopf, celebrated their 10th and 20th anniversaries, respectively, earlier this month. The Intelligent Workplace has served as a model for environmentally efficient buildings around the world.


Green Building Alliance funds seven projects
Pittsburgh Business Times | December 13
The Green Building Alliance on Thursday gave seven grants totaling $448,000 for the development of new green building projects. The grants "include collaboration between private sector companies and university teams located within Pennsylvania," said Rebecca Flora, executive director of Green Building Alliance. ... $45,736 for sustainable, low-temperature water system to heat and cool a neighborhood of buildings; a project of Geothermal Energy Systems and Carnegie Mellon University.

Regional Impact

Office updates: Industry experts weigh in on the activity of major office markets in the Northeast
Northeast Real Estate Business | December Issue
This month, Northeast Real Estate Business sat down with experts in the office industry to discuss the current activity in their respective markets and what can be expected in the future. ... The majority of the activity in the Pittsburgh office market, much like Philadelphia, is being driven by activity from the existing universities and hospitals. According to Randy McCombs, executive vice president and managing director of GVA Oxford Real Estate, “They tend to be very strong economic drivers not only for the city, but for the entire region of Pittsburgh,” notes McCombs. ... Carnegie Mellon University also drives activity in the Pittsburgh office market. “There are a number of businesses that come into the Pittsburgh marketplace due to the creation of robotics and computers at Carnegie Mellon,” says McCombs. In addition, financial institutions and general technology firms are also showing interest in office space in Pittsburgh.


Foreign firms eye U.S. assets as on sale
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | December 16
Neither Kennywood Entertainment nor The Meadows were for sale when they agreed to be acquired by foreign buyers last week. But the companies essentially had been marked down -- due to a weak dollar that makes takeover currency stronger for foreign acquirers. ... But the acquisition mentality is not static, said Chris Telmer, associate professor of financial economics at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. "It's not so much the value of the dollar (currently), but what you think the dollar is going to do in the future," said Telmer. "These acquisitions reflect foreign optimism about the value of the U.S. dollar. History tells us this (decline) will only go so far" before it reverses itself.


From Downtown to Oakland, schools drive development
Pittsburgh Business Times | December 14
If you notice new development going on in the city of Pittsburgh, there's a good chance there's a college or university nearby. Even if a project isn't being developed by or for a university itself, then the economic growth coming out of the region's colleges is helping to underscore its prospects. ... In Oakland, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University are seeking ways to expand their campuses within the neighborhood's tight confines.


Record numbers of overseas students boost SA exports
Premier & Ministers of South Australia News | December 19
South Australia’s booming international education industry is now worth $648 million, with record numbers of overseas students continuing to pour into Adelaide. ... “Great strides have been made in recent years including the attraction of world renowned institutions to South Australia with Carnegie Mellon University from the US and Cranfield University and the Royal Institution of Great Britain from the UK."


Digital library surpasses 1 million books | December 18
Nearly a decade ago, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University embarked on a project with an astonishingly lofty goal: digitize the published works of humankind and make them freely available online. The architects of the project said they have surpassed their latest target, having scanned more than 1.5 million books - many of them in Chinese - and are continuing to scan thousands more daily. ... The library so far has books published in 20 languages, including 970,000 in Chinese, 360,000 in English, 50,000 in (1) Telugu and 40,000 in Arabic.


Why we recognize the smell of a scent | December 17
US researchers have described a mechanism called 'dynamic connectivity', which explains why, when we notice a scent, the brain quickly sorts through input and determines exactly what that smell is. ... The study, led by Nathan Urban, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon, stated that by understanding how the brain does this, the mechanism could be applied to other problems faced by the brain. "If you think of the brain like a computer, then the connections between neurons are like the software that the brain is running. Our work shows that this biological software is changed rapidly as a function of the kind of input that the system receives," Nature quoted Urban, as saying.


University picks two different wireless LANs
Techworld | December 17
Carnegie Mellon University has launched a massive upgrade of its campus-wide wireless LAN and chosen two WLAN vendors to supply the 802.11n infrastructure for it. The decision runs counter to almost every large-scale wireless deployment, where a company in effect standardizes on one vendor. Carnegie Mellon IT staff are well aware that the choice of Aruba Networks for the academic buildings and common areas, and Xirrus for the outlying ring of dormitories, poses a unique set of challenges. ... The final Carnegie Mellon network will deploy Aruba gear throughout the central campus area, covering core academic and administrative buildings. The Xirrus arrays will be used in two adjacent areas on the periphery, covering the majority of the residence halls. McCarriar estimates about 3,000 access points total, including about 230 Xirrus arrays.


Japanese film-making course for Qatari pupils planned
Gulf Times | December 17
The Japanese embassy is planning to invite specialists from Carnegie Mellon University to teach Qatari pupils Japanese animation film-making, the country’s Ambassador Yukio Kitazume said yesterday. Talking to the mediapersons on the occasion of the first anniversary of the introduction of Japanese language course at Al-Bayan Educational Complex for Girls, Kitazume said the embassy is working to ensure that Japanese culture introduced to Qatar is sustained and has a meaningful impact on the students.


Carnegie Mellon scientists develop braille writing tutor | December 15
Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University, US in association with a local school for the Blind here have developed a cost effective Braille Writing Tutor to combat illiteracy among the visually impaired section of the society, especially in the developing economies. Presented at the second International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD)which began here today, the Braille Writing Tutor, currently costing around 40 US dollars, had thrown positive response during the trials conducted at the Mathra School for the Blind here where 12 students were exposed to the new system.