Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

News Clips - August 17, 2007

From August 10 to August 16, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 286 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Middle Eastern students shut out of the U.S. turn to Australia and New Zealand
The Chronicle of Higher Education | August 17
Abdul Alshahrani, a young Saudi Arabian student, had hoped to be in the United States by now, studying engineering at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind. But he was unable to secure a visa, so he will instead spend the next three years here at Auckland University of Technology. ... Over the past four years, Australia's 40 universities have seen their Middle Eastern enrollments almost triple, to 7,000, making Australia the third-largest destination for students from the region, according to government figures. ... The most obvious catalyst for this growth has been the unprecedented level of scrutiny that international students coming to Britain and United States now face. At the same time, notes Timothy Zak, executive director at Carnegie Mellon University's new branch campus in Australia, there is a growing awareness in many Middle Eastern countries, particularly the wealthy Gulf States, that they need to do a better job educating their youth. And the solution for many is to send students overseas.


The taste of Pittsburgh: Edible robots?
CNET | August 14
Carnegie Mellon University would like to give families in the Pittsburgh area the chance to build a robot. In celebration of the city's 250th anniversary in 2008, the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon wants to inspire people with Robot 250, in which citizens will have access to robot parts and educational how-to materials. The program, which started this summer as a series of community events, will run through 2009 and focus on robotics education around the themes of the environment, neighborhood and play, and history and heritage. ... Robot 250 is being overseen by Project Director Dennis Bateman and Illah Nourbakhsh, an associate professor at The Robotics Institute known for developing a kit that enables people to connect a homemade robot wirelessly to the Internet and make robots from recipes. Carl DiSalvo, a research fellow in Nourbakhsh's Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Laboratory (CREATE), is also part of the team overseeing the program.


Video games entertain and educate
BusinessWeek | August 13
Recently, I've begun to consider whether there's something more to games than just convenient entertainment. In more than 25 years of making games, I realize that I've thought primarily about the game playing, the gamer's reactions, the technology, and the marketing of games more than anything else. In other words, I saw games as entertainment products to be consumed, not as socially defining phenomena. I didn't often see, firsthand, how players responded to my games, and I rarely thought about how video games might impact players in an educational way. Now I do. Now games are a legitimate academic subject, with many university courses around the world offering degrees in video game design and development. ... A turning point for me came about three years ago, when I first saw a video (recorded by the assistant professor of entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon University) of a 6-year-old girl explaining with great passion her experience using a medieval siege weapon called a trebuchet. In this video, she explained the trebuchet's inherent weaknesses.


Could robots replace humans in mines?
NPR | August 10
Why do human beings still risk their lives burrowing miles under ground and doing one of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in the world? It's an increasingly urgent question, given the recent high-profile mining accidents in Sago, W.Va., and Huntington, Utah. A small corps of engineers and robotics experts envision a day in the not-too-distant future when robots and other technology do most of the dangerous mining work, and even help rescue trapped miners, like the six men trapped in a mine in Utah. ... One of the first mining robots was developed five years ago at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. It was called Groundhog and it looked like a golf cart on steroids. It used lasers to "see" in dark tunnels and map abandoned mines — some of the most dangerous work in the business. Researchers sent Groundhog into an abandoned mine in Pennsylvania where it slogged deep into the orange muck, successfully navigating with its laser rangefinders.

Education for Leadership

Intern of the week: Women show the Hill sophistication
The Hill | August 15
Two stunning interns made their mark on the Hill this summer, and neither can be ignored before the fall session begins. ... Over in Rep. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) office, another intern has taken the Hill by storm. Roxanne Thomas, 25, doesn’t blurt out her opinions, although she has the smarts to do just that. Instead, she speaks thoughtfully, with reserve. She lives in a house with nine other interns — eight women, one man. (The lone guy has his own room, if you’re wondering.) Like her, they are all Native Americans. ... When she turned 18, she chose to officially join her father’s tribe, the Paiute-Shoshone. The tribe offers better access to college aid. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango with a degree in sociology. Now getting her second master’s at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, she hopes to go back to where she started, in Fallon.


Hip gallery, old-line society join to keep emerging artists in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 14
There has been so much hand-wringing in Pittsburgh over how to keep its young people from leaving that the town could have calluses. The city is littered with carcasses of old youth-retention drives, from Downtown keg parties to Silicon Valley billboards to "Border Guard Bob," a fictional cop who stops young Pittsburghers from crossing the Western Pennsylvania border. This spring Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, in a chillingly old-fashioned move, named a 35-member commission to further study the matter. There is hope yet that Pittsburgh's art world -- an inherently more youthful thing -- can do its bit to stem the tide. The latest example is an interesting new collaboration between the 63-year-old National Society of Arts and Letters and one of the city's hippest art galleries, La Vie Gallery in Lawrenceville. The society's mission is to support and promote young artists, largely through financial awards issued at local and national competitions. Though it has existed since 1944 and assisted some well-known Pittsburgh-area artists and performers -- 2004 award-winner and Carnegie Mellon grad Megan Hilty starred in Broadway's "Wicked" -- it has a low profile among the city's cutting-edge art community. Enter the human whirlwind that is Thommy Conroy. ... As is typical, Conroy, a Carnegie Mellon fine arts graduate, has grandiose plans for the National Society of Arts and Letters beyond next month's event -- and for the nexus of art and youthful Pittsburgh.

Arts and Humanities

South American Sounds
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 16
Lilly Abreu, the Brazilian native who spends a great deal of her time teaching at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland, will give Katz Plaza, Downtown, some extra sizzle Tuesday. The site at Theater Square on Penn Avenue usually has its share of urban heat, but the singer will warm things up even more at the weekly Happy Hour show. Music begins at 5 p.m. and is free. Details: 412-456-6666.


Member news
Red Orbit | August 14
Rosa Cintron, Ph.D (University of Central Florida), has moved from the University of Oklahoma to the University of Central Florida. She is an associate professor in the area of Higher Education and Policy. Her latest book, College Student Death, was featured at the Joint Meeting of ACPA/NASPA this past April. Her co-editors are Drs. Erin Taylor Weathers and Katherine Garlough. Melissa Cicozi (Carnegie Mellon University), assistant head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, received CM Us 2007 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Advising and Mentoring. She was given the award in recognition of her knowledge of the design course work and the university, and for her proficiency at mentoring and counseling students.


Carnegie Mellon plugs into many different disciplines for it's Solar Decathlon house
AIA | August 10
To the architecture students designing it, the Carnegie Mellon Solar Decathlon house could be called “unprogrammed space.” For the art students working on it, it could be a “blank slate,” or “unmolded clay.” All members of Carnegie Mellon’s multidisciplinary team can agree that their Solar Decathlon house is versatile and adaptable on many levels, and that this diverse team helps make it so. “The way that we’ve been taught architecture is very much conceptual, so most of the decisions we make are based on an overriding concept,” says Emma Davison, a Carnegie Mellon architecture student. She’s the point of contact for all the different schools of study working on the house. “[In] some of the other schools, the artists have a completely different take on things. They’re an aesthetically driven field. Art’s not necessarily built with the human form in mind.” ... The most obvious scale of modularity of the house is what the students and their professor call “plug and play.” Carnegie Mellon Architecture Professor Steve Lee, AIA, teaches students about Louis Kahn’s famous delineations between servant spaces (utilitarian spaces whose goal is to support living spaces) and served spaces (the social spaces supplied by servant spaces), and along these lines, he and his students developed the idea of a utilitarian core and detachable pod-like living spaces.


Congress dithers, states left with bill
Centre Daily Times (McClatchy Newspapers) | August 10
When Congress passed a $286 billion transportation bill two years ago, many experts said it was far short -- almost $100 billion short -- of the investment needed to maintain the nation's roads and bridges. But lawmakers weren't willing to take the political risk of increasing the federal fuel tax, which Congress has left unchanged since 1993. Last week's deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis may not reverse that sentiment, either. President Bush declared his outright opposition to a gas-tax increase twice this week. Frustrated with federal inaction, some states and municipalities are trying to find ways to deal with soaring infrastructure costs on their own. In the transportation realm, solutions include politically risky local tax increases and leasing public assets to private investors. ... A jarring event such as the one in Minneapolis could be a turning point in developing such public priorities as tax rates, said Joel Tarr, an infrastructure historian at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "What do we do in this country? We respond to crises," Tarr said. "A bridge collapses and we're spurred to action. ... But putting together a coalition of people willing to raise tax dollars is not easy."

Information Technology

Enhanced privacy measures might produce bigger profits
DM News | August 11
How do consumers value privacy in online activities? This is a hard and much-debated question. On the one hand, consumers express concerns about privacy and have for many years. On the other hand, they readily give up personal information for a chance to win a few dollars or a T-shirt. The question today is whether online merchants should bother with offering customers reasonable privacy protections. And the answer may surprise you. What’s more, better privacy policies may allow merchants to charge higher prices. There is some new research on this subject presented in “The Effect of Online Privacy Information on Purchasing Behavior: An Experimental Study,” conducted by Janice Tsai, Serge Egelman, Lorrie Cranor and Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University.


Carnegie Mellon's robotic car qualifies for Urban Challenge semifinals
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 10
Living up to its name, "Boss" has qualified for a trip to California to compete this fall in the Urban Challenge robot race. Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing is one of 36 teams to qualify for the Urban Challenge National Qualification Event to be held Oct. 26-31. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- or DARPA -- in the U.S. Department of Defense also announced that the qualifying and final events will be held at an urban military training facility situated on the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles. The final event featuring 20 robotic vehicles will be held Nov. 3. "A day like this redoubles the commitment and redoubles the excitement," said William L. "Red" Whittaker, the Carnegie Mellon roboticist who heads Tartan Racing."


Storage guru: Q & A with Garth Gibson
eWEEK | August 9
Garth Gibson, one of the most respected thought leaders in the field of data storage, is chief technology officer at Panasas, in Fremont, Calif., and an associate professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Gibson received a doctorate in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. While at Berkeley, he did the groundwork research and co-wrote the seminal paper on RAID, now a checklist feature for storage products. ... After joining the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1991, Gibson founded the Parallel Data Laboratory, one of the premier academic storage system research labs. He also founded the Network-Attached Storage Device working group of the National Storage Industry Consortium and led storage systems research in the Data Storage Systems Center, one of the largest academic magnetic storage technology research labs. Gibson participates in a variety of academic and industry professional organizations.,1759,2168821,00.asp


Carnegie Mellon researchers get federal grant to study air quality
Centre Daily Times (AP) | August 13
Two Carnegie Mellon University researchers have been tapped by the federal government to study how climate change and international pollution affect air quality in the United States. Peter Adams, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Spyros Pandis, a chemical engineering research professor, got $900,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do the work, the university announced Monday.


Company sets record for solar efficiency
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 10
Solar energy's cost and relative inefficiency have stunted its growth for decades, but Harmar-based Plextronics Inc. said it's made a major step toward solving both problems through a technology that "prints" solar cell technology onto plastic or glass. The company said Thursday it set a world record for efficiency in converting solar light to power, as certified by the federal Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. And its technology could cut the cost of solar cells to less than $1 a watt, about one-fifth of today's standard cell made of silicon. ... Plextronics, known for its "electronic ink" used in cell phone screens and other devices, started developing organic photovoltaic technology less than two years ago. In June, the Carnegie Mellon University spinoff won a $3 million DOE grant to develop its process for commercial uses.


Pittsburgh Technology Center will bring 400-plus new jobs
Pop City Media | August 15
The Pittsburgh biotech industry got a big boost with the announcement that the state will kick in $7.25 million to help build a $46 million technology center that will create 400 new jobs for the region. The Pittsburgh Technology Center, a planned  five story, 165,000-square-foot facility, will be developed by the Cleveland-based Ferchill Group. Located on a 1.5 acre parcel east of the Sunoco building along the Mon, it is the initial project of the second phase of development. If the demand for space continues as expected, the technology park can accommodate up to one million square feet of additional development, says Robert Rubinstein, director of economic development for the URA. ... “Because of its strategic location in the Greater Oakland Keystone Innovation Zone, this facility will make valuable wet lab space available for lease by nearby universities and hospitals,” touts Gov. Ed Rendell. “Several companies have expressed the need for such space in close proximity to the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon."

Regional Impact

South Oakland project gets $28M
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 15
The Port of Pittsburgh Commission on Tuesday authorized issuing $28.5 million in bonds to help pay for a construction of a $46.5 million office building at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland. The developer, BPA II Ltd., a unit of Ferchill Group of Cleveland, plans to build the 150,000-square-foot office building on a 1.7-acre parcel just east of the Hot Metal Bridge, said James McCarville, executive director of the commission. It is the last site available for development at the Pittsburgh Technology Center, he said. The developer anticipates breaking ground on the building in the fall, with completion set for next year, McCarville said. The building is to be used for life sciences research by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, McCarville said.


Sunday forum: House of cards
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 12
The way to keep our bridges, roads, sewers, pipelines and other infrastructure from crumbling is to invest in new methods of construction, maintenance and monitoring, according to Carnegie Mellon professors David A. Dzombak and James H. Garrett Jr. ... The tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis highlighted for the nation the critical importance of maintaining, renewing and improving our civil infrastructure. We in Western Pennsylvania have had numerous other reminders in recent years, including the 2005 collapse of a bridge over I-70 in Washington County, the plethora of major water line breaks in the Pittsburgh area over the past two years, the frequent major sewer overflows into our streams and rivers and the generally poor state of many of our roads. ... David A. Dzombak is Walter J. Blenko Sr. professor of environmental engineering and faculty director for the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Also at Carnegie Mellon, James H. Garrett Jr. is professor and head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the co-director of the Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research.


Hosting networking events helps business grow
Pittsburgh Business Times | August 10
Rick Mongiovi had been to all the standard networking events, trying to drum up business for his plumbing company, Mongiovi and Son. He wanted something a little less stodgy, a little more accessible to any company. So three years ago, he invited 15 to 20 business associates -- vendors, contractors, friends and others -- to his home for a party at his backyard swimming pool. Today, Mongiovi's parties have outgrown his back yard at home, so he now invites people to the courtyard at his office. Professionals from Bayer Corp., Alpern Rosenthal and Ohio Valley General Hospital, as well as commercial real estate and insurance firms, have attended the events, Mongiovi said. ... It's an especially effective networking event, he said, as people come to have a good time while still gathering information for their business. Invitees also are encouraged to bring a new person to the parties so that everyone can benefit from meeting someone new. ... Tom Reda, president of the Allison Park-based professional networking company The Small Business Network, said Mongiovi's networking group also creates a cost-effective marketing strategy. Getting businesspeople together for an event would be far cheaper than many forms of direct mail or advertising, he said. Art Boni, director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University, said the networking group was a creative effort for a private-sector company. Typically, such groups are formed by economic development groups, Boni said.


Three books about what it means to be human -- and maybe post-human
Pittsburgh City Paper | August 9
Three new books address our provisional status as a distinct species. Thumbs, Toes and Tears is Chip Walter's engaging, nimbly written tour through the evolution of the body parts and bodily functions that make us human. Cataloging our meat and our skeletons, Walter ranges from the emergence of the big toes that let australopithecines walk upright on the nascent East African savanna to the cognitive consequences of how we shed heat from our skulls, and from the pharynx (also a product of bipedalism) to "our bulging cerebral cortex [that] developed and folded like an old mitt around the more ancient baseball of our limbic brains." ... Walter's tale, however, leads to a ghost: the ghost of evolution yet to come. Quoting the writings of such thinkers as visionary Carnegie Mellon robotics scientist Hans Moravec, Walter (himself a Carnegie Mellon adjunct professor as well as a journalist), prophesies our transformation into a new species he dubs "Cyber sapien -- a creature part digital and part biological." It sounds all but inevitable, this squaring ourselves off to fit the square hole we've made of our round-hole globe: "Our big brains, in one of the great ironies of the human condition, have entirely refashioned the world into a place profoundly different from the one we originally evolved to live in."


Carnegie Mellon in Qatar shifts to LAS building in Education City
The Peninsula | August 15
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar will begin its fourth academic year in the Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) building in Education City. After spending three years occupying a portion of the Weill Cornell Medical College building, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based University moved into space in the LAS building that was formerly occupied by Texas A&M University at Qatar(Tamuq). Tamuq celebrated the opening of its new building in March and moved into their expansive new facility over the summer. This move allowed Qatar Foundation to perform slight renovations on the space so that it would be ready to meet Carnegie Mellon in Qatar’s needs.


The rise of the Indian thought-leaders
MBA Universe | August 14
The rarified world of business thinking has been largely American terrain over the last hundred years. From Frederick Taylor with his stopwatch at the beginning of the twentieth century to the modern generation of gurus. Even the brief love affair with Japanese business practices in the early 1980s was intellectually colonized by American thinkers such as W. Edwards Deming and Richard Pascale. ... Just below the established luminaries, too, is a group of up and coming stars. The faculty lists of the world’s most prestigious business schools contain an increasing number of academics with Indian roots.  They include Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria and Krishna Palepu at Harvard Business School; Jagdish Bhagawati at Columbia; Deepak Jain and Mohanbir Sawhney at Northwestern’s Kellogg School; and Raj Reddy at Carnegie Mellon.


OK, smarty pants, chill me a beer then jump in the washing machine
The Sydney Morning Herald | August 14
There was a time when all we expected from our clothes was to preserve our modesty, protect us from the elements and pull in a few curves. Not any more. If the Siggraph 2007 exhibition of future fashions in San Diego is anything to go by, your wardrobe will soon charge your iPod, convey hidden messages, light your home and act as a video game console. Get ready for clothes infused with electronic gadgets and computers that can help you in your daily life - or just give you a laugh. There was a time when all we expected from our clothes was to preserve our modesty, protect us from the elements and pull in a few curves. Not any more. If the Siggraph 2007 exhibition of future fashions in San Diego is anything to go by, your wardrobe will soon charge your iPod, convey hidden messages, light your home and act as a video game console. Get ready for clothes infused with electronic gadgets and computers that can help you in your daily life - or just give you a laugh. ...  Daniel Siewiorek, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said that building switches or tiny microphones into clothes that could connect with mobile phones would not be difficult. But there were big hurdles for smart clothing at the moment.


Carnegie boffins develop software that makes pictures really 'perfect'
Daily India (ANI) | August 12
Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, have developed two computer programs that literally makes pictures 'perfect'. The first program - dubbed the Scene Completion software - allows photographers to remove unwanted people or objects from their digital snaps and replace them with perfectly matched alternatives. ... They said although editing programs in vogue, such as Photoshop allowed snaps to be tweaked and elements erased or replaced, they were often time-consuming and the results unconvincing. "Matching an object with the original photo and placing that object within the 3D landscape of the photo is a highly complex problem. But with our approach, we can hide the complexity from the user and make the process simple and intuitive," said Jean-Francois Lalonde, who headed the research.