Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

News Clips - June 22, 2007

From June 15 to June 21, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 200 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Where have all the rock stars gone?
The Chronicle of Higher Education | June 22
James Brown's death last December was a much more pointed, and poignant, marker of the changing role of popular music in American culture than the current exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon professor of English and literary and cultural studies, David Shumway.


Science panel finds fault with estimates of coal supply
The New York Times | June 21
The United States may not have nearly as much coal as is popularly believed, and mining the remaining resources may be more dangerous for workers and the environment than current operations, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report Wednesday. With domestic production of oil, gas and uranium far below peaks, coal has been promoted by elected officials and energy experts as the only bright spot in the national fuel supply picture. But as Congress considers billions of dollars in aid for projects to make gasoline and diesel substitutes from coal, and to build coal-fired plants that would capture their own carbon emissions, the study said that estimates of coal reserves were unreliable. ... The 250-year estimate was made in the 1970s and was based on the assumption that 25 percent of the coal that had been located was recoverable with current technology and at current prices, said one member of the study group, Edward S. Rubin, a professor of environmental engineering and science at Carnegie Mellon University.


China overtakes U.S. as top CO2 emitter
Forbes (AP) | June 20
China has overtaken the United States as the world's top producer of carbon dioxide emissions - the biggest man-made contributor to global warming - based on the latest widely accepted energy consumption data, a Dutch research group says. According to a report released Tuesday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China overtook the U.S. in emissions of CO2 by about 7.5 percent in 2006. While China was 2 percent below the United States in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production caused the numbers to rise rapidly, the group said. ... But the issue isn't just current emissions, but carbon dioxide stuck in the atmosphere, where it lingers for about a century trapping heat below, said Jay Apt, a professor of engineering, business and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Apt and a colleague calculated the share of carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere that can be attributed to each country and determined that the United States is responsible for 27 percent, European nations contributed 20 percent and China only 8 percent. "The planet does not respond to emissions, the planet responds to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," said Apt. "It means the U.S. will have the lion's share of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the foreseeable future. In fact, even if China's exponential growth continues, China will not surpass the U.S. in the numbers of carbon dioxide atoms in the atmosphere, that is concentration, until at least 2050, which is too late to start anything."


Math matches kidney donors to patients
Discovery Channel | June 18
About 4,000 patients will die each year waiting for a kidney transplant. But a new number-crunching computer program could help match living donors with patients to save lives. The algorithm improves on previous ones by not only factoring in altruistic donors but also calculating the most efficient way to handle three-, and four-way exchanges. "If you have 10,000 people nationwide who are each bringing a willing donor to the exchange and would like a kidney then it's very complex to decide who gets a kidney from whom to save the maximum number of lives," said Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.


How surveying workers can pay off
The Wall Street Journal | June 18
Houston KFC restaurant manager Joanthan McDaniel surveys his staff of about 20 every three months. Earlier this year, workers complained about their hours -- some felt they worked too many, others too few. As a result, he now talks with them more often about scheduling. ... More employers are adopting employee-engagement surveys in place of relatively simplistic assessments of job satisfaction. Used to help shape programs for workers, these newer surveys try to track employees' commitment and motivation with questions on attitudes toward co-workers, understanding of responsibilities, and the quality of feedback they receive. ... Robert Kelley, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, says it is smart for companies to track employee attitudes. But such efforts can backfire if companies don't act on problems workers identify. "That undermines the whole credibility of the process," he says.

Education for Leadership

Giammo's career path went from business school to Mr. Mayor
Pittsburgh Business Times | June 15
As mayor of Rockville, Md., Larry Giammo says his job isn't much different than a company chief executive. "Running a local government is not all that unlike what you're trying to achieve in running a business. You're trying to run a high level of business for customers or constituents, at the lowest cost possible," the 43-year-old graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business said. The Maryland native chose the Pittsburgh school after considering the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I was looking for a program that was qualitatively oriented and (Carnegie Mellon) seemed to fit the bill," Giammo said. "I had a pleasant experience." Giammo, who lived in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill while attending Carnegie Mellon, worked for the Rockville Planning Commission after graduation and the Corporate Leadership Council in Washington, D.C. In 2001, he was elected mayor of Rockville, a Washington suburb of about 60,000, about three hours east of Pittsburgh and about a hour southwest of Baltimore. But he said he never planned to be a lifelong politician, and recently said he won't seek a third term. He credits his time at Carnegie Mellon for his success.


Arise injects new life into an abandoned North Braddock church
Pittsburgh City Paper | June 14
The project called Arise is the brainchild of Elizabeth Monoian of The Society for Cultural Exchange and New York City-based project leader Clarinda Mac Low. Mac Low, a self-described "conceptual performance artist" who makes "situations," intends Arise to demonstrate the possibilities of simply using the materials at hand. "It's an act of secular salvation," says Mac Low. "You are saved through the renewal of the space." Installation artist Brenda Battad, a student in art and electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, is transforming one room using paper that was left behind. "I'm making new things out of old things," says Batta. "And eventually I'm going to interact with it." Claire Hoch, another Carnegie Mellon artist, is using the plant called the tree of heaven to evoke both the community's decline and the possibility for regrowth.

Arts and Humanities

Crime beat: Lie detector test is "essential" tool
Poughkeepsie Journal | June 18
Local residents who were here long enough to remember may know the "Pinocchio" bandit as Daniel Finbarr Coleman, a resident of West Coxsackie in Greene County. Coleman was convicted of 15 bank robberies in Dutchess, Ulster and other upstate counties during the mid to late-1990s. ... "The polygraph was instrumental in that case," Hyde Park police Chief James McKenna recalled. ... Although the results from lie detector tests aren't admissible in court, McKenna said the results can help steer investigators in the right direction. ... The National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, presented a report questioning the use of polygraph machines as tools for security screenings. The report said there were too many false negatives - reporting when someone is telling the truth when they're lying - and false positives - reporting someone is lying when they're telling the truth. Stephen Fienberg, a statistics and social science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh led the panel that wrote the report. Although the report focused on security screening, he believed the report cast enough doubt on polygraph machines they should be reconsidered for criminal investigations as well.


Carnegie Mellon exhibit brings 'transparency' to art
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 17
With a clever title like "Glassnost," the latest exhibition at Carnegie Mellon University's Regina Gouger Miller Gallery features works that are equally clever by nine artists who either are, or were, art instructors at the university. ... Organized by glass artist Kathleen Mulcahy, who last taught glassblowing at Carnegie Mellon in the mid-1980s, this exhibition was inspired by a previous exhibit she also curated titled "Artists Crossing Lines," which was on display in 2002 at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. ... Some of the same artwork that was displayed at the Glass Center can be found here, such as Ron Desmett's "Lidded Trunk Vessels," which are large and lumpy black jars formed by blowing molten glass into hollowed-out tree trunks, and Carol Kumata's installation "Fragile," which is a huge mass of suspended, clear-glass candelabras filled with candles, underneath of which the word "fragile" is spelled out in dripped candle wax on the floor.

Information Technology

Carnegie Mellon vehicle to pass qualifiers for 'Urban Challenge'
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 19
The crowd fell silent Monday morning as the sponsor-plastered Chevy Tahoe approached the most difficult part of the race course. "Here's the hard part. My heart's up in my throat a little," said event emcee Bill Messner. The Tahoe slowed coming into the curve, stopped for several seconds and then swung out in a wide turn, dodging a parked car and several orange cones. "Picture perfect from what I can tell," said Messner, a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University. "Picture perfect." The Tahoe -- named "Boss" for General Motors Research founder Charles F. "Boss" Kettering -- sailed through qualifying rounds for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Urban Challenge, a 60-mile competition for automated, robotic vehicles that boasts a $2 million prize. The competition will happen in November at an undisclosed location that simulates urban roads and traffic. ... Stanford is again thought to be Carnegie Mellon's top competition. "Junior" -- its Volkswagen Passat wagon -- made it through a similar qualifying test in California on Thursday without any problems. William "Red" Whittaker, Carnegie Mellon professor of robotics and leader for Tartan Racing, the name of the team that created Boss, said that doesn't make him nervous. "The trick to life, the trick to competition, is not worrying about anything," Whittaker said. "We respect and honor them absolutely."


A little privacy, please
Scientific American | June 17
Latanya Sweeney attracts a lot of attention. It could be because of her deep affection for esoteric and cunning mathematics. Or maybe it is the black leather outfit she wears while riding her Honda VTX 1300 motorcycle around the sedate campus of Carnegie Mellon University, where she directs the Laboratory for International Data Privacy. Whatever the case, Sweeney suspects the attention helps to explain her fascination with protecting people’s privacy. Because at the heart of her work lies a nagging question: Is it possible to maintain privacy, freedom and safety in today’s security-centric, databased world where identities sit ripe for the plucking?


Robo-soldier does reconnaissance for Marines, Army
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 15
Drop it from an Armored Personnel Carrier at 40 miles per hour, grab its handle and hammer-throw it into a third-story window: Dragon Runner isn't your typical cutesy robot. When Army or Marine personnel need reconnaissance, another pair of eyes or ears to keep tabs on an enemy in close quarters, Dragon Runner is exactly what they're looking for. Just 16.6 inches long by 12.2 inches wide by 6 inches high, and lightweight at 14 pounds -- 21 pounds with custom backpack and controller -- Dragon Runner can be deployed by a single user in just three seconds, the Marines assert. The robot was developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, in conjunction with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va. Some two dozen Dragon Runners have been deployed in the Mideast by the Marines and the Army. "We've made a number of improvements to the robot. We now can tailor it exactly to the needs of the user," said Hagen Schempf, the project's godfather, a principal researcher at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and co-founder of O'Hara-based Automatika Inc., sole licensee for Dragon Runner manufacturing.


Study shows trade may cause climate change
Earth Times (UPI) | June 18
U.S. engineering researchers say rising U.S. trade with nations such as China might increase carbon emissions and affect climate change. Carnegie Mellon University graduate researcher Christopher Weber and Associate Professor Scott Matthews argue rising U.S. trade can have major consequences for the future of global climate policy by importing more carbon-intensive goods from other countries.


Progress on preventing blackouts
The Christian Science Monitor | June 18
The average U.S. electricity customer loses power for more than three hours annually – outages that cost the US economy about $80 billion. That may be about to change. America's power grid has a new cop on the beat, ready to slap stiff fines on power companies that don't meet new national standards for grid reliability. The standards become mandatory on Monday. Reliance on voluntary guidelines and collegial cooperation among power companies is out. Fines of as much as $1 million a day are in – levied by the North American Reliability Corp. (NERC), which is freshly armed with a federal mandate. ... Some industry experts worry that NERC may be being asked to do too much – and that the way it is set up may hinder its efficacy. NERC has two bosses: the very companies it regulates, and FERC. That's not a recipe for tougher standards, suggests Jay Apt of the Electricity Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University, who has studied grid reliability. "It's too early to tell, but it's an interesting experiment to have a regulating organization that is entirely funded by and governed by those that it regulates," he says.

Regional Impact

Sunday forum: The property tax, misperceived
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | June 17
Carnegie Mellon professor Paul Fischbeck analyzes the property assessment figures that Allegheny County refused to use and found that they would have saved money for taxpayers in most local communities. Eleven days ago, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled that it is unconstitutional to base property taxes on a historical base year. That's because homeowners who have seen their property values decrease end up paying more than their fair share while fortunate homeowners who have realized an increase in property value end up paying less than their share.


Project sets residents loose on photo scavenger hunt in Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 14
"It's coming!" Zach Healy, 11, waited for the ice cream man with baited breath last Thursday, teetering impatiently off edge of the curb on Garwood Street in Lawrenceville. "Get that camera over here!" he called to his friend Giulio Conte, 11. ... Zach and Giulio were among 16 Lawrenceville residents who wandered the neighborhood last week with noise and air-pollution censors. It's all part of the Lawrenceville Project, a brainchild Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Labs and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Learning in Out of Classroom Environments, is a free summerlong series of workshops at the Stephen Foster Community Center. Sponsored by Intel, the Project seeks to wed technology and art, stimulating creative thinking by placing high-tech instruments in the hands of non-professionals and turning them loose to explore their neighborhood.


Mellon, Heinz families selected for philanthropy award
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 19
Pittsburgh will stake its claim as the king of charity this fall when the Mellon and Heinz families receive the 2007 Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy at a ceremony here. ... Paul Mellon helped launch the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports museums, higher education, information technology research, performing arts and the environment. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has contributed to land preservation, Carnegie Mellon University, hospitals and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse. ... This year's committee includes Gregorian; Jessica Matthews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon; William Thompson, great-grandson of Carnegie; Charles McConnell, chief executive of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust; Andrew Miller, secretary and treasurer of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland; and Dick Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington.


Ambitious initiative allows Carnegie Mellon to extend reach around the globe
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 17
An oil painting of Andrew Carnegie, grim-faced in black cap and maroon gown, commands the sixth-floor entrance to the president's office at Carnegie Mellon University. University President Jared L. Cohon walks past the painting several times a day. At night, track lighting illuminates it, casting an aura around Carnegie's head that Cohon can see when he drives past on Fifth Avenue. "I know he's saying to me, 'Don't screw up, Cohon,' " the president says. " 'This is my legacy. It's a century-old university.' " Cohon jokes, but beneath the humor lies a keen sense of responsibility. Having been given his third five-year contract last month, he is leading the region's most prestigious university on a remarkable, yet risky, transition from a national to a global research university. ... Where would Carnegie Mellon be without its foreign students? "Sunk," Lisa Krieg replies with a smile. She is the director of the university's Office of International Education. Chuck Thorpe, dean of the Qatar campus, offers a rationale for why the university is offering degrees abroad. "Carnegie Mellon gets a window on the world, a presence in a key country in a key region at a key time," he says.


Networking for interns
Yahoo! UK & Ireland (BusinessWeek) | June 19
A summer internship can be tough enough without any extra stress, but experts agree that just showing up [even to all the planned events] isn't the way to get the most of out an internship. Instead, career experts say that one-on-one networking during a summer internship is a must -- along with not neglecting the actual job and attending events planned by intern coordinators. ... Reach out to those who are easiest to approach first -- hold off on chatting with the heads of the company who probably know less about incoming interns. "Don't start at the top of the food chain -- network with people who can still identify with where you are as a student intern," says Ken Keeley, executive director of the Career Opportunities Center at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business. Going to the higher-ups later in the summer also increases the chance that a colleague will put in a good word about the intern before the actual approach.


EV maker may get wish as McGuinty sees light
Toronto Star | June 19
ZENN Motor Co. may be headquartered in Toronto, but the maker of electric vehicles can't sell its product in Ontario. That could soon change. Premier Dalton McGuinty told the Toronto Star yesterday he's intent on amending outdated legislation that forbids the use of low-speed electric vehicles in the province. He said he didn't want the current rules to be an "impediment" to what's viewed as an environmentally friendly transport technology. ... ZENN Motors has doubled its U.S. distribution network to 33 retailers since January. Shares in the company, which recently changed its name from Feel Good Cars and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange, soared 12 per cent yesterday ahead of the meeting with McGuinty. EV's don't release emissions, but some critics argue the pollution is merely shifted to burning coal and other fossil fuels that generate electricity for charging its batteries. A recent study out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, however, concluded that charging a hybrid-electric (or electric) vehicle with coal power releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a vehicle running on gasoline.