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News Clips - March 16, 2007

From March 9 to March 15, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 218 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Are public universities losing ground?
Inside Higher Ed | March 14
New data from a company that ranks research universities primarily based on per-capita faculty productivity suggest that there are consistent and dramatic disparities in research output at public and private institutions. ... “Before drawing firm conclusions, I would wait to see what the National Research Council’s rankings say,” said Peter Lee, vice provost for research at Carnegie Mellon University. (The private institution performed exceedingly well in the Academic Analytics 2005 rankings, landing in the No. 6 spot among large research universities.) “If they affirm this, I think that there would be an interesting discussion to have.


More Chinese graduates return home
The New York Times | March 13
When Zhe Xu receives his M.B.A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley this spring, he will hop a plane back to his native China for a job in management consulting rather than seek employment in the U.S. Just a few years ago, such a career move would have been almost unthinkable. Most students returned to China reluctantly and only because they couldn't land a position with an American company that would sponsor them for a work visa. But Mr. Xu represents a new breed of Chinese M.B.A. student for whom China's booming economy is proving more alluring than a career in the West.  ... Some Chinese students still prefer to spend at least a year or two working in the U.S., both to repay some of their education debt from their higher income and to learn about Western business practices firsthand. Zhou Yu, an M.B.A. and computational-finance student at Carnegie Mellon University, has accepted a job in fixed-income strategy at Citigroup because he believes some experience in New York should make him "more marketable." But in a few years, he and his wife hope to return to their families in Beijing.


The Web smiley's motto: Grin and bear it
The New York Times ( | March 13
Author Vladimir Nabokov said in a 1969 New York Times interview that "there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile--some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket." Now, nearly four decades later, there is just such a typographical symbol-- :-), or :) for the minimalists, and it'd be tough to find a tech-savvy person who hasn't leaned on it. ... After all, the phenomenon is about to turn 25--a dinosaur in Web years. The origin of the ASCII smiley face is typically traced to September 1982, when Scott Fahlman, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Computer Science, suggested that the :-) symbol be used in the subject line of an online bulletin board post to denote a humorous or non-serious topic.


Lawmakers consider lessening crack penalties
USA Today | March 11
Momentum is building in Congress to ease crack cocaine sentencing guidelines, which the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say have filled prisons with low-level drug dealers and addicts whose punishments were much worse than their crimes. Federal prison sentences for possessing or selling crack have far exceeded those for powder cocaine for two decades. ... Congress passed the sentencing laws just after the fatal crack overdose of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias on June 19, 1986, and as crack was emerging in urban areas, says Alfred Blumstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who researches crime. Crack cocaine was associated with violent, open-air drug markets, he says.


Keeping tired drivers alert, with no snooze button
The New York Times | March 11
After a tough week at the office, the highway stretches ahead of you. The car is warm and the engine hums. Your eyelids slowly close. And then, there’s a sudden puff of air on the back of your neck. The steering wheel vibrates in your hands and a buzzer sounds. Your car is waking you. The car has been watching your face and, through the steering wheel, feeling your pulse. It knew you were about to fall asleep. ... Eyelid flutter is not the only detection option, said a spokesman for Bosch, the automotive supplier. It has been developing a system that monitors the steering wheel and pedals for lapses typical of the onset of sleep. Other companies, including I.B.M., are working on variations of the systems. Some smaller manufacturers, like AssistWare Technology and Attention Technologies, both of Pittsburgh and both building on research from Carnegie Mellon University, are selling aftermarket camera-based systems.


Undergrad rankings 2007
BusinessWeek | March 2007
Carnegie Mellon ranked No. 21 in the BusinessWeek 2007 Best Undergraduate Business Schools Ranking. ... Carnegie Mellon's rankings in specific categories are as follows: #8 in Internships, #9 in Hardest Working, and #13 Private College for Return on Investment.

Education for Leadership

Four Carnegie Mellon students draw businesses to market with free Web sites, domain names
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 15
Before Mark R. Tressler could achieve his goal and be his own boss he had to come up with a ripe business idea. The Carnegie Mellon University student pondered, ruminated and wracked his entrepreneurial brain until June 15, when an idea popped into his head. Mr. Tressler's plan was to create a cyberspace marketplace where businesses, large and small, could advertise goods and services and connect with customers. Last month, Mr. Tressler, 20, of South Park, and three Carnegie Mellon partners -- and cross-country teammates -- launched the free Web-based marketplace,, which he said has no equal. Mave, as he calls it, provides free Web sites and domain names for hundreds of businesses, with 1,500 subscribers -- and growing. His partners include Breck Fresen, a 20-year-old computer scientist from Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Geoff Misek, a 21-year-old senior in computer and electrical engineering from Goodrich, Mich.; and Will Lutz, 21, a junior economics major from Wyomissing, Berks County.


Carnegie Mellon team computes to compete in Tokyo
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 10
In a classroom full of computers, three Carnegie Mellon University students huddled around just one. Nathan Bauernfeind, Lawrence Tan and Young Sub Bae were settling in for a five-hour evening practice session in programming -- part of their training for an international competition next week in Japan. The three computer science students placed second out of 116 teams in a regional programming contest in November at the University of Cincinnati. ... Problems in the contest "all have long stories and a lot of detail. That is part of the game," said computer science instructor Greg Kesden, one of the team's coaches.

Arts and Humanities

Newsmaker: Vivian Loftness
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 11
Vivian Loftness. Age: 54. Residence: Highland Park. Family: Husband, Volker Hartkopf; three children, Sophia Hartkopf, 23; Nicholas Hartkopf, 20; and Alessandra Hartkopf, 16. Education: Bachelor's degree and master's degree in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Occupation: Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture and senior researcher for Carnegie Mellon's Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, where her husband is the director.


Arts foundation revamps grants process
The Chronicle of Philanthropy | March 8
Switching from slides to electronic images has helped the New York Foundation for the Arts save money and improve its grant-making review processes. ... Now, using a software developed by the Center for Arts Management and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, the foundation is able to accept online images as an alternative to slides. ***This article is available online to subscribers of the The Chronicle of Philanthropy.


Young artists drink in the Brew House's new Distillery Program
Pittsburgh City Paper | March 8
"Everyone's doing their own thing, but it fits together," says Morgan Cahn, one of the artists in the Brew House's new Distillery Program. The six-month residency program's culminating exhibition, Higher Proof, features work by Cahn and Anne Angyal, Adam Grossi, Nicholas Hohman, Jeremy Radtke and Carolyn Wenning. ... The Distillery Program was created by Tessa Windt, a board member of the Brew House artists' co-op, with funding from the Brew House and the Sprout Fund. The idea is to help young artists to explore career opportunities and develop their work. Distillery Program artists attended monthly workshops about different aspects of the art world. Guest presenters included curator Graham Shearing, Carnegie Mellon faculty member Sarah Eldridge (who helped the artists write about their art) and Susan Blackman, director of grant programs for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.


Poet Terrance Hayes addresses life during wartime in How to Provoke With Courtesy
Pittsburgh City Paper | March 8
The dead bodies of two deer, thickly coated with white spray-paint: The pair of photos by Jude Vachon, each tinted blue and smaller than a business card, are mounted on a sheath of ivory cardstock, compellingly aestheticized and quietly disturbing. Likewise the poems tucked inside, printed on a single long, accordion-folded sheet. How to provoke with courtesy. A collection of imaginary poems by Terrance Hayes is the striking latest installment in an annual series of small-run publications by designer Brett Yasko. ... Hayes, a Carnegie Mellon professor, is arguably Pittsburgh's most accomplished poet under 40; his 2006 collection, Wind in a Box (Penguin), was one of three poetry books on Publishers' Weekly's 100-best list. At the March 9 installment of the Gist Street Reading Series, Hayes reads along with Portland-based author Charles D'Ambrosio, whose fiction appears frequently in The New Yorker.

Information Technology

Outsized effort powers robots in 'Almost Human'
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 14
One is the impassioned evangelist who energizes true believers to accomplish impossible deeds. ... But this is no church story, even if it does involve religious zeal. Instead, it's the dramatic tale of Carnegie Mellon University roboticists working to build robots that feature human-like abilities when they move, see, record, learn, and even understand. Lee Gutkind, the self-described "godfather of creative nonfiction," tells their story in his latest book that provides an inside look into Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. ... The book describes the personalities of such famed roboticists as William "Red" Whittaker, the above-mentioned evangelist who preaches, encourages and even shames his crew, mostly students. ... Then there's the missionary-type, David Wettergreen, who has been involved in every major robotics project at Carnegie Mellon the past two decades and has led crews to build some of the world's most productive robots. ... Manuela Veloso mixes features of Drs. Whittaker and Wettergreen in prompting Carnegie Mellon teams to become juggernauts in worldwide robo-soccer competitions. ... Matthew T. Mason, director of the Robotics Institute, said the book provides an excellent outsider's viewpoint of the people with whom he's worked. "It's an accurate and revealing picture of robotics research," Dr. Mason said. "I didn't expect to learn anything, but I was wrong. ... Chuck Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar and member of the Robotics Institute since 1979, said he also loved the book.


Peering into video's future
Technology Review | March 12
This article is one in a series of 10 stories we're running this week covering today's most significant emerging technologies. It's part of our annual "10 Emerging Technologies" report, which appears in the March/April print issue of Technology Review. ... TV shows, YouTube clips, animations, and other video applications already account for more than 60 percent of Internet traffic, says CacheLogic, a Cambridge, England, company that sells media delivery systems to content owners and Internet service providers (ISPs). "I imagine that within two years it will be 98 percent," adds Hui Zhang, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University.


NSF official: U.S. must step up long-term research
Computerworld | March 12
Jeannette Wing is focused on the future. And later this year, she will be responsible for shaping it as the new head of the recently formed computer and information science and engineering directorate at the National Science Foundation. Wing, who now chairs the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, hopes to change past computer research methods by expanding the long-term focus. Keeping on the current track — which involves working mostly on short-term or midrange projects — could lead to long-term problems for the U.S. government, private industry and users, she said. “Today in security, we are patching systems and fighting viruses and worms and doing source-code analysis using techniques that the basic research community invented 20 years ago, or even longer [ago] than that,” said Wing.


DepthX scours ocean floor
Wired News | March 9
A completely untethered, autonomous underwater diving robot launches a mission this week to collect samples from a 400-foot-deep geothermal sinkhole in Mexico. ... "We know that there are bacteria and other life forms that survive via photosynthesis near the surface of La Pilita," said David Wettergreen, associate research professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who led the team responsible for developing the robot's autonomous navigation software. "But as we get deeper down into this warm, chemically-enriched water, we're interested in finding out which organisms survive there.,72907-0.html?tw=wn_index_3


Carnegie Mellon prof, PPG researcher cited
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 15
Carnegie Mellon architecture professor Stephen Lee says he'll make a point of talking with PPG Industries Inc. researcher Mike Rupert at a luncheon today, as both men accept awards for promoting "green" building design. Lee is faculty adviser to the dozens of students planning Carnegie Mellon University's entry in this year's federally sponsored Solar Decathlon. The team will build an 800-square-foot house that's solar powered and energy efficient. ... It is truly remarkable," said Lee, who'd like to use the Solarban 70XL glass in the contest house. "I want to meet the guy who developed it.


Professor: Power needs will require new models
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 14
Maintaining an adequate supply of electricity across the nation's power grid in coming decades will require new models for the generation, transmission, distribution and consumption of electricity, a Carnegie Mellon University professor said yesterday. Citing the growing complexity of the electricity industry in the face of deregulation, increasing consumption and concerns for pollution, Marija Ilic called for "novel engineering, regulatory and financial solutions for providing energy service." Ms. Ilic, a professor in Engineering and public policy, electrical and computer engineering, was one of more than a dozen presenters in the first day of a two-day conference at Carnegie Mellon focused on how the electric industry can continue to meet consumer demand for the next 30 years.


Genetically engineered organisms invade our planet - what's the harm?
The Epoch Times | March 13
For a long time now, Americans have been told by the scientists who developed genetically modified (GM) crops and organisms that GM is safe and wonderful. ... In the pig organ example mentioned above, Caruso and Baruch Fischoff, a risk expert and professor at Carnegie Mellon University, convened a "diverse" group of six experts for a meeting, lasting less than a day to consider the risks. They developed various possible scenarios that scientists working directly on the problem might not even think about.


Desktop organ printer
Popular Science | March 2007
Stem cells may be sparking a medical revolution, but their magical ability to morph into any tissue type is hard to control. Take the cells out of their natural habitat, and they behave like ambivalent job-seekers, unable to settle into a single role as, say, bone or heart cells. Now Carnegie Mellon University researchers are turning to the humble inkjet printer to make them commit. "Eventually", says researcher Julie Phillippi, "we want to print these growth factors layer by layer to repair multiple tissue types--bone, muscle, cartilage." ***This article is not yet available online.

Regional Impact

For tech startups, no place like here
Pop City Media | March 7
When Patrick McGregor and Matthew White decided to quit their jobs to start a data security company a few years ago, the first thing they had to figure out was where to start it. They popped in on Raleigh-Durham, checked out Boston and San Francisco and Atlanta to have a look-see. But the former Carnegie Mellon roommates soon discovered the right place to launch was staring them in the face. “In the end, the right choice was abundantly clear,” says McGregor, the CEO of Downtown-based BitArmor. “It was clear that we needed to start in Pittsburgh.” ... Carnegie Mellon is arguably the number one institution in IT (Information Technology) in the country. Pitt is among the elite institutions in the country in life sciences,” says Steven Zylstra, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “There’s a lot of great minds in region, a lot of students being produced; that’s always fertile ground for start-ups.


Expert: Electricity system at risk
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 14
Electricity substations could be the part of the country's power system most vulnerable to terrorist attack, although no sector is totally safe, a leading power expert said Tuesday. "Substations are where I'm most concerned with attack," said M. Granger Morgan, co-director of Carnegie Mellon University's Electricity Industry Center. "First, the high-voltage transformers for the most part are custom-made and are very, very hard to move.


Carnegie Mellon, Pitt share $7 million in grants
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 13
Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh announced today that they have partnered in a joint federal program to provide interdisciplinary training in neuroscience. With $7 million in grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Science Foundation, the universities will train undergraduate and graduate students in several aspects of neuroscience. The plan is to create a generation of brain researchers who can explore multiple fields of neuroscience in the quest to understand how people think and learn.


First QF-Unesco meet on literacy to begin in Doha
Gulf Times | March 11
Ministers and First Ladies from across the region are to attend the Qatar Foundation (QF) - Unesco conference on ‘Literacy Challenges in the Arab Region: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches,’ beginning tomorrow at the Four Seasons Hotel. A part of QF’s Innovations in Education Series and Unesco’s Regional Conferences in Support of Global Literacy, the three-day event is being held under the auspices of HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad, QF chairperson and Unesco’s Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education. ... Also taking part in the literacy and ICT discussion will be Dr. Raj Reddy, the Mozah Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, U.S. President of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence from 1987-89, Dr. Reddy served as co-chair of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) from 1999-2001 under Presidents Clinton and Bush.


Botball workshop begins
The Peninsula | March 10
Qatar will host the final competition of regional robotic championship. As precursor to it, a two-day Botball regional workshop for the participating teams got off at Carnegie Mellon Qatar Campus yesterday. Teams from 18 high schools from Doha, Kuwait and the UAE are attending the event.