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News Clips - March 30, 2007

From March 23 to March 29, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 245 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.

Special Section

Computing center connects Carnegie Mellon, Microsoft
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 27
Jeannette Wing got angry with a friend recently when he advised his child to major in physics in college instead of computer science. Physics is exciting, he suggested, while computer science is mostly "clerical" computer programming. Nothing could be further from the truth, said the impassioned Dr. Wing, head of Carnegie Mellon University's world-class computer science department. The chance to correct that misimpression is one reason she is happy that Microsoft announced yesterday that it is giving Carnegie Mellon $1.5 million over the next three years to establish the Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking.


Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon team up
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 27
Carnegie Mellon University is teaming with Microsoft Corp. to establish a center for computational thinking at the university in Oakland. Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based software company, is providing a three-year, $1.5 million grant to establish a series of programs and research projects designed to use innovations developed in computer science to solve "real world" problems, officials said Monday. ... "Computer technology has rapidly transformed education, commerce and entertainment. But more profoundly, computational thinking is transforming how new science is discovered in fields as varied as biology, astronomy, statistics and economics," said Jeannette M. Wing, outgoing head of Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department.


Microsoft gives Carnegie Mellon $1.5 million for computational thinking center
BusinessWeek (AP) | March 26
Carnegie Mellon University announced the creation of the Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking, funded through a $1.5 million grant from Microsoft Corp. The center will support research in emerging areas of computer science, the school said Monday. Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science, according to the school.


Microsoft to create research center at Carnegie Mellon
Pittsburgh Business Times | March 26
The Redmond, Wash.-based company (NASDAQ:MSFT) said it will provide a three-year, $1.5 million grant to fund the Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking at the Oakland university. ... Luis von Ahn, a professor in Carnegie Mellon's computer science department, said a collaboration between the university and Microsoft "would be insanely great.


2008 U.S. News & World Report graduate rankings
U.S. News & World Report | March 30
Top Business Schools: Tepper School ranked 17th overall; Business Specialty Programs: Information Systems ranked 2nd; Production/Operations ranked 2nd; Supply Chain/Logistics ranked 4th; Finance ranked 17th; Entrepreneurship ranked 20th. Top Engineering Schools: Carnegie Mellon ranked 6th overall; Engineering Specialty Programs: Computer Engineering ranked 4th; Environmental/Environmental Health ranked 8th; Electrical/Electronic/Communication ranked 9th; Mechanical ranked 10th; Chemical ranked 12th; Materials ranked 12th; Civil ranked 13th; Biomedical/Bioengineering ranked 24th. Carnegie Mellon's biological sciences Ph.D program ranked 34th overall. Carnegie Mellon's chemistry Ph.D program ranked 50th overall.


Mascot watch
The Chronicle of Higher Education | March 30
Carnegie Mellon University. Nickname: The Tartans. Mascot: None, officially. What's happening: Scottie Dog, the university's unofficial mascot, appears likely to get his papers. The details: The industrialist Andrew Carnegie founded the institution in 1900, and his Scottish tradition persists to this day. Indeed, Carnegie Mellon is reputed to have the nation's only student majoring in bagpipes, and its athletics teams have been represented by a bagpiper and more recently by Scottie Dog, a costumed terrier who trots the sidelines at most sporting events. "There were a lot of people who weren't aware that the Scottie Dog wasn't official," says Susan Bassett, athletics director and co-chairman of a committee formed to study the mascot situation.


India attracts universities from the U.S.
The New York Times | March 26
It was an unusual university entrance interview. Late one recent evening here in steamy southern India, Vijay Muddana sat in a mercilessly air-conditioned room, leaning forward in his chair and talking to the wall. There, projected on a screen via videoconferencing equipment, were administrators from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where an early morning snowstorm had caused a power failure, delaying the interviews by an hour. The Indians found it funny that even in Pittsburgh, there were power failures. Mr. Muddana, 21, was among a dozen ambitious young Indians hoping to get a graduate degree in information technology offered jointly by Carnegie Mellon and a small private college here.


The pain of purchasing
MSNBC | March 26
Do an experiment: If you regularly pull the plastic out of your wallet for routine purchases, go to the store to buy $60 in groceries, and pay with cash. It might not seem logical, but handing the cashier those three $20 bills may seem somehow more painful than paying for the milk and bread with a credit card. An economics and psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University may be able to explain why. SmartMoney recently highlighted research by Professor George Loewenstein, who monitored a particular region of the brain when people went shopping. His subjects were asked to look at 80 different products. Then they were shown the price, and asked to buy or pass. When they saw the price -- especially if it was too high -- the pain centers of their brains lit up.


World Bank anticorruption drive blunted as China threatens to halt loans
Fox News | March 26
World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz's war to reform the world's most important antipoverty institution faces a new and potentially crippling challenge — even while the former No. 2 man at the Pentagon is declaring victory. The claim of triumph came last week when the bank's 24-member board of directors embraced a watered-down version of Wolfowitz's strategy to link lending by the world's foremost development institution to a country’s governance and corruption record. ... “The bank is making a huge effort to compete with the markets by lowering its fees to the point of losing money,” said Adam Lerrick, an economist with Carnegie Mellon University. An analysis conducted by Lerrick for the American Enterprise Institute shows the bank loses between $100 million and $500 million per year on its loans — though accounting maneuvers paint a rosier picture of the financials.,2933,261290,00.html


For fast-food help, call in the robots
The New York Times | March 26
Some robots are destined to rove the surface of Mars. Others, like Hyperactive Bob, will work in fast-food restaurants. Pittsburgh's Hyperactive Technologies has come up with a system, based on the computer vision and artificial intelligence systems employed by robots, to manage the kitchens at so-called quick-service restaurants. ... The Department of Defense has also become a major customer for robots, investing in machines that can comb caves or perform battlefield tasks. Pittsburgh is one of the national centers for robotics because of the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University, which has one of the more extensive programs on the subject. Both Hyperactive founders are former Carnegie Mellon researchers.,+call+in+the+robots/2100-11394_3-6170097.html


Windfall time: When angels battle demons
The New York Times | March 24
Matthew Bushlow, a publicist in Burlington, Vt., is expecting a $2,000 tax refund this year. Like many people who anticipate a windfall — whether from a bonus, book advance, birthday money or Uncle Sam — Mr. Bushlow is on the verge of spending the money even before the check lands in his account. ... Windfalls, much as we love to get them, can be complicated. First there is the irresistible impulse to allocate the money — or spend it, via credit or some other form of borrowing — long before you even have the cash. That’s just human nature, says George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

Education for Leadership

Saturday diary: At the end of the day, living with guys is no big deal
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 24
My university, Carnegie Mellon, recently approved a gender-neutral housing policy that will permit a guy and a girl to shack up together on campus. It was the best thing to happen to Carnegie Mellon students since Star Wars came out on DVD, but some people fear its implications. I am not one of those people. I can understand why the policy has stirred controversy. But I speak from personal experience when I say that sleeping with the enemy is no big deal. ***This story was written by Brittany MacCandless, academic intern at the Post-Gazette and a student of professional and creative writing at Carnegie Mellon.

Arts and Humanities

Conference helps artists navigate changing copyright laws
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 27
Last year Pittsburgh's Girl Talk released "Night Ripper," a 16-track party record mixing more than 200 samples of popular songs, which Rolling Stone magazine picked as one of the year's best. He has toured the world performing the work, via his laptop, and has remixed tracks for Beck and other artists. Copyrights and intellectual property rights are still held dearly during the digital age, especially when it comes to sharing music files and other content over the Internet. But clearly, some assumptions are changing, as the acceptance of sampling is becoming more mainstream. ... The effect of copyright and intellectual property laws on art will be the focus of a two-day conference, titled "You're Not the Boss of Me: Copyright and Transgression," at Carnegie Mellon University on Friday and Saturday. Much of the attention will be on artists such as Girl Talk, who make their art while possibly transgressing laws.


Newsmaker: Anne Mundell
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 24
Anne Mundell. Residence: Highland Park. Age: 46. Family: Husband, David Betts. Occupation: Associate professor of scene design in the school of drama at Carnegie Mellon University. Education: Bachelor's degree in theater design, Kenyon College; master's degree in fine arts, Brandeis University.

Information Technology

Obsessive geniuses strive to create Almost Human robots
Wired | March 29
Behind every Hasbro Butterscotch Robotic Pony and every NASA rover exploring Mars are teams of roboticists who've worked obsessively to bring their creations to life. In the book Almost Human: Making Robots Think, published this month, Lee Gutkind introduces us to some of the most prominent minds and memorable personalities among them. A writing professor at the University of Pittsburgh and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction, Gutkind spent six years, off and on, at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh researching his subject. He uncovers a surprising amount of action -- from the RoboCup, in which Sony Aibos modified by rival teams compete in soccer, to the barren landscape of the Atacama Desert in Chile, where roboticists put a prototypical Mars rover named Zoë to the test. Wired News spoke by phone to Gutkind, who is currently the writer in residence at Arizona State University, about this unique subculture.


Invasion of the home robots
Electronic House | March 22
Smelling the fresh air after a long week at the office is nice. But you weren’t planning on experiencing nature from behind the handle of a push mower. Or maybe it’s just been a long day. The floors are grimy, and the last thing you want to do is whip out the broom and dustpan. Well, you’re in luck. In the last five years household robotics have advanced by leaps and bounds, and today, solid, reliable products are available in unprecedented variety. Not only do these bots sweep, clean, and cut more efficiently than in the past, they’re also affordable. ... Robots have already crept into our lives, says Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. That handy car GPS that tells you where to turn is in fact a semi-intelligent robot that’s handling a job normally processed in your brain. The unobtrusive nighttime heads up display on some newer model cars and the GPS locator chip in cell phone are also small examples of robotic automation.


The growing green scene
Pop City Media | March 21
While SureTight is one of 1,800 companies in the region that manufacture building products, its SIPS are distinctive, known as green or environmentally preferred products (EPP). EPPs have one of five characteristics: they’re made from recycled products, or bio-based, or low in chemical emissions, naturally or minimally processed, or use little energy. ... “I love what they’re doing. What Rebecca Flora [GBA executive director] has done, positioning Southwestern Pennsylvania as the green building capital, is great. ... “We have several competitive assets," says Flora who cites the national recognition the leadership of western Pennsylvania has achieved in green building. “The amount of innovation going on here—research grants and related type of R&D activity—is quite high.” For example, the University of Pittsburgh was one of the first in the nation to offer a master’s degree in green construction while Carnegie Mellon University has advanced degrees in sustainable design. From 1990 to 2004, both universities, along with local companies, garnered 2,700 patents for EPP technology.


Can printed material survive in digital age?
ScrippsNews | March 22
The future of publishing may be digital, but that doesn't necessarily spell the demise of printed materials. That was the message one printing industry executive delivered at the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts' annual international conference this week in Pittsburgh. "The Internet has not dramatically reduced the need to print but has changed the location where printing takes place," said Dean Hornsby, director of the integrated solutions group at Matthews Marking Products, a division of Pittsburgh-based Matthews International that develops codes and labels for packaging and industrial products. ... Another potential market will come in biomedicine, where synthetic tissue eventually will be printed on-site in hospital operating rooms for trauma patients. Matthews has collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University on the tissue technology, he said.

Regional Impact

City takes only 2 bids for energy consulting business
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 28
Pittsburgh is on the verge of awarding a lucrative consulting contract to a firm that could help cut the city's $8.4 million utility bill, but it is using a process that effectively excludes competitors and raises questions about fairness. ... The emergence of just two firms competing for a complex contract that could result in millions of dollars in savings and expenses for the city isn't ideal, said Robert Strauss, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy & Management. "In such circumstances, there's merit in having as much competition as possible," he said yesterday.


Region's firms scramble for worker visas
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 28
Rahul Pamecha came from India to work in the U.S. information technology industry for some of the same reasons immigrants came from Europe more than a century ago to toil in Pittsburgh's mills and mines. ... To Pamecha's boss, Syed I. Ahmed, chief executive of RIZ Global, the H-1B visa program is necessary for his company to compete globally against companies offering IT services worldwide. ... One reason for the gap between the supply of IT workers from the U.S. and the demand for those skills is that fewer U.S. students are pursuing that career. Information technology is not as attractive to U.S. students as it once was, said Randal E. Bryant, dean of Carnegie Mellon University's computer science school.


Sunday forum: Just say no to nukes
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 25
While the United States remains fixated on the war in Iraq, for good reasons, it also must not neglect the single greatest danger to our national security: the presence in the world of thousands of nuclear weapons capable of destroying much of mankind. ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon professor of physics, Lincoln Wolfenstein.


Film notes: Carnegie Mellon to unreel film festival
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 24
Film festival news is breaking out all over: The fourth annual Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival will open with the Russian film "Peter FM" at 7 p.m. Thursday. It's about a radio disc jockey who loses her cell phone, the architect who finds it and the effects of that serendipitous moment.


New test could bring children relief from arthritis
WPXI | March 23
Alison Fritz, 16, of Erie, has suffered from arthritis pain most of her life. “I just thought it was normal,” said Fritz. Her mom knew it wasn't. Two years ago Fritz was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. “I had to quit the basketball team and I got really depressed. Then I had to start taking a lot of medicine,” said Fritz. It's not unusual to misdiagnosis arthritis in children. Researchers at Children's Hospital teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to develop 3-D imaging cameras that actually show the inflammation caused by arthritis. Doctors evaluate the pattern of temperature.


Tag-team detection | March 26
Fluorescent labels are getting an upgrade. First came the discovery that reducing the rate of excitation of fluorescent dyes can greatly increase the amount of light given off. Now, US chemists have found a way to embed multiple fluorescent compounds into a single DNA construct to produce highly fluorescent DNA nanotags, which could find use in a range of applications, including capillary electrophoresis. 'We really feel that this is the tip of the iceberg and that nanotags 100 times brighter than existing labels can be developed in any color,' says team leader Bruce Armitage from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.


Higher education for software specialists
Computer Business Review | March 23
When you buy application software, services, or other technology from a vendor, or when you need to recruit skilled staff for senior roles, you may wonder what education is the relevant background for such positions. With skilled staff in seemingly perpetual short supply, what type of educational background is likely to inculcate the relevant skills? A new course may have some of the answers. ... A U.S. educational establishment, Carnegie Mellon West University - an offshoot of the main university that has been based in Silicon Valley since 2002 - has just announced that it intends to offer a masters degree course in software management, starting in autumn 2007.


QF hosting six-day leadership programme
Gulf Times | March 23
A U.S.-based non-profit organization, LeaderShape Inc, is conducting a six-day workshop, hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF), to help develop future leaders in Qatar and the region. LeaderShape Inc, that specializes in building leadership skills, was founded in 1986. The workshop, organized through the initiative of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, will begin today and last until March 28. The intensive programme is designed to expand and enhance the leadership capacities of young adults, promoting values of integrity, diversity and creativity.


Robots with rhythm could rock your world
New Scientist | March 22
A robot blob that dances "soulfully" to different tunes could pave the way for machines that interact more naturally with human beings, researchers claim. Marek Michalowski of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, and Hideki Kozima of the National Institute of Communications Technology (NICT) in Kyoto, Japan, programmed the squishy, yellow robot, called "Keepon", to pick out the beat in a piece of music and move along in time. It can also track the rhythmic motion of a person or another object and move in time to that.