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News Clips - April 6, 2007

From March 30 to April 5, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 182 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


The professor was a prison guard
The Chronicle of Higher Education | April 6
When I was 20, I left college and took a job in a prison. I went from reading the great books as a Columbia University undergraduate to locking doors and counting inmates as a New York State correction officer. Since I'm an English professor now, people never entirely believe me when the issue comes up, probably because of the horn-rimmed glasses and felicitous implementation of Latinate words. I fancied I'd be like George Orwell, who took a job as an Imperial Police officer in Burma and wrote about it in "Shooting an Elephant." I thought I'd go "up the river" to the "big house" and write "Shooting an Inmate" or some such thing. It didn't quite happen that way, although as a professor, I've worked 14 of 16 years in state institutions. ***This article was written by Jeffrey J. Williams, professor of English and literary and cultural studies at Carnegie Mellon.


Races with a twist
MSNBC | April 4
Two unconventional auto races are getting an extra push of publicity this week: The Automotive X Prize has just formally unveiled its draft rules for super-efficient cars at the New York Auto Show, while one of the teams in the DARPA Urban Challenge is taking its robo-car show on the road. The $2 million Urban Challenge, sponsored by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is aimed at promoting the development of autonomous vehicles capable of handling city traffic. Such supply vehicles would have obvious applications in tough environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and they're slated to make up the bulk of the armed forces' vehicle fleet by the year 2015. ... But another front-runner is Carnegie Mellon University's Boss, which is a Chevy Tahoe SUV with a robotic upgrade. Actually, there are two Bosses - Boss Tan and Boss Black - and the vehicles have been undergoing testing at an Arizona proving ground.


Center to support instruction on 'Computational Thinking'
Education Week | April 4
Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and the Microsoft Corp. have joined forces to create a center to pioneer and promote studies in K-12 and higher education in the emerging field of computational thinking. “Computer technology has rapidly transformed education, commerce, and entertainment,” said Jeannette M. Wing, who heads the university’s computer-science department. “But more profoundly, computer science is transforming how new science is discovered in fields as varied as biology, astronomy, statistics, and economics.


War on drugs hasn't stemmed flow into U.S.
NPR | April 3
The big, silver airplane lumbers into the air from its base in Corpus Christi, Texas, clears a bank of thunderclouds and heads south over the shimmering Caribbean. It's part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's P-3 air interdiction force, aimed at stopping drug smugglers from moving their cargo from Latin America into the United States. ... Peter Reuter and Jonathan Caulkins, former co-directors of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center, co-wrote a paper last year for the National Academy of Sciences titled "Reorienting U.S. Drug Policy." ... Caulkins, of Carnegie Mellon University, concurs. "Smart drug control is hard work," he says. "There are no silver bullets. The best we can do is improve on the mix of interventions we're doing.


Acting like you mean it
CBS News | March 30
The last place mechanical engineer Andrew Wilkinson ever expected to find himself was on stage. Yet this fall, the second-year student at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business took the advice of several recent graduates and enrolled in Business Acting, performing scenes from plays like Death of a Salesman. Now, Wilkinson believes the lessons he learned in drama class are just as important for his future as those he picked up in traditional M.B.A. courses like Finance and Marketing Management. ... While would-be M.B.A.'s like Drew Wilkinson are getting a strong dose of soft-skills training at Carnegie Mellon, Dean Kenneth Dunn cautions that it's important for the pendulum not to swing too far. "To face and solve complex problems in a rapidly changing world where data is more readily available ... you really do need analytical skills," says Dunn, a former managing director of Morgan Stanley Investment Management.


Trail Mix
U.S. News & World Report | March 26
Art students at Carnegie Mellon will showcase their work on four downtown billboards in Pittsburgh, the Tartan reports.

Education for Leadership

Students from Qatar find time for public service during visit
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 5
The students came from the tiny Arab nation of Qatar, with their roots in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to a blue-collar American town named for the region's most famous Scottish immigrant. Their favorite events? Irish dancing and a visit to an African-American church named for a Turkish mountain. "I thought to myself, 'It's going to be just like "Sister Act"!' " said Hala Abbas, of Sunday services at Mount Ararat Baptist Church in East Liberty, "and it was!" "I think if I was in the States, I would go every Sunday," Fatima Al-Rumaihi said, noting that she plays piano, sings in her native tongue and loves music, a big part of the Mount Ararat services. But Miss Al-Rumaihi, Miss Abbas and six others from the Middle East were in the States for eight days. They are all students at Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Doha, Qatar, who spent their spring break visiting the main campus, seeing the city and performing community service.


4 CMU students win Goldwater scholarships
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 4
When Gregory Newby, a Carnegie Mellon University sophomore from Penn Hills, learned he'd won a Goldwater scholarship, he didn't have to look far to spot others celebrating. Three other students on his campus won the prestigious award. Carnegie Mellon is one of seven schools nationally with the maximum four Goldwater winners. Penn State University has two recipients and the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University of Pennsylvania have one. ... Carnegie Mellon's other recipients are: Samantha Spath, a junior biological sciences major from Sterling Heights, Mich., who wants to teach at a university and do research in human disease. Jonathan Stahlman, a junior from Clarion, is majoring in physics and wants to study alternative energy sources. Lauren Thorpe, a junior from State College majoring in biological sciences, wants to obtain a doctoral degree in virology and do research.

Arts and Humanities

Fate, revenge fuel Greek trilogy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 5
When it comes to educating theater professionals, Elizabeth Bradley thinks big. The head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama since 2001, Bradley is one of the forces behind the production of Aeschylus' "Oresteia." The drama school run all three of the 5th-century B.C. plays in repertory beginning Wednesday. ... "It is up to theater to resist reductive impulses to make things shorter and more convenient," says Bradley of this daunting enterprise. "I feel we almost have a responsibility to take on something where our reach may exceed our grasp." ... Its director, Jed Allen Harris, has been germinating the project for a decade and waiting for the right collection of students to take it on. That proved to be the class of 2007, many of whom have been working on and preparing for the production since February 2006.


Poetry Forum season features words on war
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 3
With the reading by Sam Hamill Oct. 10, the International Poetry Forum sounds the theme of its 41st season loud and clear: "Poets on War and Other Losses." Hamill, founder of Copper Canyon Press in Washington state, spearheaded the Poets Against the War effort in 2003, preceding the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. His efforts sparked a nationwide protest that caused first lady Laura Bush to cancel a poetry event at the White House. ... Other poets on the schedule include Terrance Hayes, author of three honored collections -- "Wind in a Box," "Hip Logic" and Muscular Music." He teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University and will appear Jan. 30.


Something new on the horizon: Carnegie Mellon students go long with the billboards as their canvas
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 3
Even the late Ogden Nash, whose witty wordplay attracted armies of admirers, might have liked the billboards appearing this week in Oakland and other city neighborhoods. A whimsical picture called "Snowballs from the Freezer" shows 10 Carnegie Mellon University students dressed in black business suits playing in the snow on Schenley Park's Anderson Playground. ... These students, enrolled in the first Making Mass Media class, were thrilled to have a canvas that is 22 feet long, 12 feet tall and seen by thousands of people every day. Their professor, Christopher Sperandio, arranged for Lamar Outdoor Advertising to showcase the image, which is actually made up of a dozen different pictures taken on a snowy Sunday in February.


Carnegie Mellon festival explores the boundaries of art and copyright
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 30
Once upon a time, growing up, you were taught that sharing is a good thing. Then, you grow up some more, and find out that it's a little more complicated than that -- especially if you become a musician, computer programmer, or other creative type. Suddenly, sharing can mutate into complicated concepts such as "sampling" "open-source" and even "illegal file-sharing." Artist, say hello to the many-tentacled monster that is American copyright law. It's there to protect you and your creative energies, but it's about as confusing as the tax code, and possibly even less fun. "Artists are often very ignorant of copyright law," says Christopher Sperandio, the Jill Kraus Visiting Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. "Creators often get the short end of the stick."


The power of babble
Wired | March 2007
MIT researcher Deb Roy is videotaping every waking minute of his infant son's first 3 years of life. His ultimate goal: teach a robot to talk. ... Even if Roy's work — endorsed by academic luminaries like experimental psychologist Steven Pinker and philosopher Daniel Dennett — fails to provide major linguistic insights, the data-mining techniques he's developing and the experimental protocols he's establishing will change how early childhood development is researched. His colleagues in the field are watching his methods with interest. "This is groundbreaking work ," says Carnegie Mellon developmental psychologist Brian MacWhinney, keeper of the world's leading repository of childhood speech transcripts. "More and more, it's the technology that drives the science."

Information Technology

Robotic fleas spring into action
Technology Review | April 3
An autonomous robotic flea has been developed that is capable of jumping nearly 30 times its height, thanks to what is arguably the world's smallest rubber band. ... "With miniature robots, hopping is a good option if you're trying to move over uneven terrains," says Metin Sitti, an assistant professor at the nanorobotics lab at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. "At that size, the critical issue is power, so it is a good choice to store energy," he says.


Carnegie Mellon Engineering dean honored for global edu vision
Campus Technology | April 3
Pradeep Khosla, dean of Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering, was given the "Cyber Education Champion Award" from the Business Software Alliance, an association of software companies. ... Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet praised Khosla for being at the forefront of engineering education  and for "deploying innovative educational initiatives that will create the comparative advantage we seek as a university, and this award is a wonderful reminder of his outstanding academic leadership.


New breed of digital tutors yielding learning gains
Education Week | April 2
Struggling algebra students in the Everett, Wash., school district get help from special tutors who diagnose their weaknesses, tailor instruction to their needs, and provide on-the-spot feedback—all with an inhuman degree of patience. That’s inhuman literally: The tutors are computers. Three years ago, the district started employing Cognitive Tutor, a series of computer programs based on artificial intelligence that were developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. ... But the level of progress also depends on how skilled the tutor is, noted Kenneth R. Koedinger, a professor of human-computer interaction and psychology at Carnegie Mellon and one of the developers of Cognitive Tutor. ... Cognitive Tutor was born out of work begun by John R. Anderson, a prominent cognitive scientist at Carnegie Mellon, in the 1970s. Mr. Anderson wanted to use the system to test a framework for modeling how advanced students process and learn information. ... Project LISTEN, a system developed by Carnegie Mellon researcher Jack Mostow that employs speech-synthesizing technology to “listen” to students read and give them feedback.


Pitt, CMU, and WVU study ways to make coal less polluting
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 2
Pennsylvania and West Virginia hold millions of tons of coal, a fuel that can meet the country's energy needs for the next 100 years. The problem: Much of it is dirtier and more expensive to process than coal mined elsewhere. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and West Virginia University hope their work will one day help reduce the nation's dependency on crude oil by making coal less polluting. ... "We certainly have the natural resources for it. What we need is to improve the technology for processing it," said Andrew Gellman, chair of Carnegie Mellon's chemical engineering department. "Some of the motivation for these projects is to make it environmentally friendly to use coal.

Regional Impact

Corn price jump may cause small ripple in Western Pa.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 31
Fred Slezak, a farmer in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, has heard all about the jump in corn prices and the rush to put more acres into production in the nation's Corn Belt. ... The U.S. Agriculture Department, in its nationwide planting report released Friday, expects farmers to plant 90.5 million acres of corn this year nationwide, compared to about 79 million acres in 2006, a 15 percent increase. The driver behind more corn production is the demand for ethanol, which uses corn as a raw material. The trend nationwide is to mix ethanol with gasoline to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil. ... Because corn is in so many food products, "if the price rises as expected, there will be a kind of ripple effect" on other commodities, said David Frame, Carnegie Mellon University economics professor.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 31
The Heinz Endowments has invested $600,000 into a three-year effort to tap into the skills, connections and perhaps the wallets of the Pittsburgh "diaspora" -- people living and working all over the world with ties to Carnegie Mellon University and a yen for Pittsburgh. ... Heading up the effort is Donald Bonk, former international trade manager for Southern Alleghenies. ... The goal is to build upon Carnegie Mellon's prior success luring firms such as Google and Intel to set up outposts in Pittsburgh, said Timothy McNulty, Carnegie Mellon's provost for tech initiatives. "It's meant to create more synergistic and strategic linkages across the university community" to spark economic development, he said. The project, according to Mr. McNulty, won't replace, but will "augment and build on" other Pittsburgh tech-focused economic development efforts, such as the state-and-foundation-funded University Partnership headed by his colleague, Don Smith Jr., and tech incubators such as the Technology Collaborative.


Briefs: Carnegie Mellon alumnus' $1M gift earmarked for research
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 4
Bruce McWilliams and his wife, Astrid, have given Carnegie Mellon University more than $1 million to support research in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, biophysics and cosmology. McWilliams, of San Jose, Calif., has served as CEO, president and a member of the board of directors of Tessera Technologies since 1999. Tessera is a San Jose-based firm that develops miniaturization technologies for the electronics industry.


Newsmaker: Andrew Hannah
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 1
Andrew Hannah. Occupation: President, chief executive officer and co-founder of Plextronics Inc. Age: 41. Residence: McMurray. Wife: Jodi. Children: Paige, 12; and Sydney, 8. Education: Bachelor of science degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University, 1987; master's in business administration, University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz School of Business, 1991. Background: Joined Richard McCullough to found Plextronics Inc. in July, 2002; the Harmar-based company is a world leader in developing active layer technology, the ink systems that drive printed electronic devices; also serves an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University.


Algorithms add up to big business
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 1
In the days after the 9/11 attacks, FedEx Ground quickly realized it faced a potentially costly problem: How would it get packages out if even one of its myriad distribution hubs went down, cut off by acts or potential acts of terrorism? The company couldn't just shut down a hub and then see what happened to test the impact. So a FedEx team studying the issue adapted a computer model to show packages flowing through the network and simulated shutting down different sites. ... The project used algorithms, a word that for many brings up dim memories of high school math. ... Human beings use algorithms, too. Say it's the weekend and you've got errands to do. You make a list, rank priorities based on key factors and try to group trips by location for efficiency. "When you're thinking about running a lot of errands, you're essentially running an algorithm," said R. Ravi, associate dean of intellectual strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.


Carnegie Mellon GC Dively fostering school's entrepreneurial spirit
The Legal Intelligencer | February 14
If Mary Jo Dively could offer one piece of advice to other university general counsel, it would be to get to know the faculty. "I think it's very easy sometimes, in a central administration, to forget that the reason you're there is to support the faculty," said Dively, vice president and general counsel for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's the faculty that makes a university great." ***To view this article, you must have a subscription to The Legal Intelligencer.


U.S. state lawmakers try again to create RFID protections
Computerworld | April 3
The California legislature this month is expected to vote on several bills that would regulate the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in government documents. Similar legislation was approved by the body last year only to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October. ... Michael Shamos, a professor who specializes in security issues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said that the legislation doesn't deal comprehensively with RFID privacy issues beyond the government sector, said. However, he said, "It's a good statute.";1828028760;fp;2;fpid;1


Q & A: Raj Reddy
The Financial Express | April 2
A recipient of the Turing award, which is considered the highest honor in computer science, Raj Reddy is one of the world’s leading experts on robotics and artificial intelligence. He is currently the Mozah Bint Nasser University professor of computer science and robotics in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Reddy’s research interests include the study of human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence. His research projects include building robots capable of speech recognition and comprehension systems. Another project dear to him is the Million Book Project wherein he envisions creating a universal, free to read, digital library containing all the books ever published. In a candid chat with BV Mahalakshmi, he stresses on the need to bridge the digital divide and extend the benefits to the rural community.