Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

News Clips - May 11, 2007

From May 4 to May 10, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 209 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Banking on obsolete statism
The Wall Street Journal | May 10
The kerfuffle over whether Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank's president, behaved badly regarding the contract for his companion to facilitate her departure from the bank involves no large issue. The bank's existence does. The bank's rationale, never strong, has evaporated. ... The bank argues, incoherently, that its clients value the "technical assistance," but that the clients would not adopt it unless bribed -- unless it were a condition of receiving subsidized loans. So the bank subsidizes projects that the client countries do not deem worth financing at market interest rates. As Allan Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon University says, money is fungible: Projects with the highest social or economic return are often dangled in front of the bank to get its loans -- but these projects would have been funded anyway. The bank's loans support marginal projects that would not have been funded without the loans. In the last five years, according to Adam Lerrick of the American Enterprise Institute, 90% of the bank's loans went to 27 middle-income countries, which Mr. Lerrick says "closely parallels" private sector lending decisions.


Face recognition systems weighed as next weapon against terrorism
USA Today | May 10
Homeland Security leaders are exploring futuristic and possibly privacy-invading technology aimed at finding terrorists and criminals by using digital surveillance photos that analyze facial characteristics. The government is paying for some of the most advanced research into controversial face-recognition technology, which converts photos into numerical sequences that can be instantly compared with millions of photos in a database. ... Using face-recognition for surveillance is "enormously difficult" because systems photograph people at oblique angles or in weak light, both of which create poor images, said Takeo Kanade, head of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. Terrorists can defeat the systems with disguises or hats that shield their faces.


Adding spirituality
Inside Higher Ed | May 8
Recent research coming out of the University of California at Los Angeles suggests not only that undergraduates are far more spiritual than was widely believed, but also that they’re seeking help with their seeking from their colleges – mostly in vain, it turns out. In an effort to help colleges better respond to students’ spiritual quests, the lead researchers for the Spirituality in Higher Education project invited representatives from 10 non-sectarian institutions to Los Angeles in November to develop individual plans to better address matters of spirituality on campus. Researchers offered a progress report of sorts Monday, highlighting the actions leaders at Carnegie Mellon University, Miami University, in Ohio, and Florida State University have taken to better nurture student spirituality on campus since November, while more broadly outlining the discussions being held at the other seven universities still in earlier stages of the process. ... At Carnegie Mellon, faculty members will pair with student affairs administrators and head to the dorms to lead weekly discussions with groups of 20 to 25 freshmen on the “big questions”: “What is my role in the community? What is my authentic self and how do I honor that self?” said Indira Nair, Carnegie Mellon’s vice provost of education. Faculty will choose foundational readings and enjoy the freedom to pave their own approach toward asking these questions during this fall’s 12-week pilot program.


Science college first to make SAT/ACT scores optional
USA Today | May 7
Officials at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts say they will make college entrance exam scores optional in admission, making it the first nationally ranked science and engineering institute to do so. ... This year, WPI got about 5,700 applications and expects to enroll 800 freshmen this fall. In contrast, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh receives about 22,000 applications for 1,360 places. Scores provide a national yardstick and a hedge against grade inflation, says Carnegie Mellon admissions director Mike Steidel. "The scores really do help us narrow down who we're going to offer admission to," he says.


One reason for pay gap: Women don't ask
MSNBC | May 7
Shellye Archambeau knows a lot about how much men and women make in corporate America, having been a top executive for more than two decades, running major businesses at companies such as IBM and Blockbuster. She definitely noticed a disparity in pay between men and women, but she also noticed something else over the years: Few women she supervised came a knocking on her door demanding more money. The men, on the other hand, were more likely to squawk for a fatter paycheck. ... Whether we like it or not, many employers and society at large still see men as the main breadwinners in the family, says Linda Babcock, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University. “People often see women as the second wage earners, and that’s not an effective strategy for us,” she adds.


The World Bank's real problem
Time | May 3
The World Bank is undeniably in crisis. But not because its president, Paul Wolfowitz, got his girlfriend a raise. It is the Wolfowitz saga that has been grabbing all the headlines, of course. The Iraq-war architect was plucked from the Defense Department and deposited by President George W. Bush at the World Bank in 2005 (by tradition, the U.S. President picks the bank's chief). ... The World Bank's initial job was to finance reconstruction in Europe. The Marshall Plan rendered that task superfluous, so the bank--in the first of several reinventions--moved on to bankroll development in other countries. The idea was to lend to governments that were creditworthy but had no access to rich-country capital markets. "Now we live in a world where there are huge global capital markets, where, if anything, investors are too willing to invest in developing countries," says Adam Lerrick, a former investment banker who teaches economics at Carnegie Mellon University. The World Bank's net lending has plummeted over the past few years, even as it keeps shopping loans to the likes of Brazil, Turkey, Russia and China, sometimes on hugely generous terms.,9171,1617526,00.html

Education for Leadership

Carnegie Mellon grad gets his first leading role in 'Traveler'
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 10
Actor Matthew Bomer, a 2000 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, is well aware of the tepid greeting viewers gave last fall's batch of dark, conspiracy-filled serialized dramas, so he's quick to differentiate his new dark, conspiracy-filled, ABC serial "Traveler." "Something I think it's important for people to know is that every question raised in the pilot of this series is answered by the eighth episode, and new questions are brought up for future seasons," Bomer said last week. "It's not a serialized show that writes itself into a corner."


Fotowoosh transforms web site to 3-D experience
Pop City Media | May 9
Imagine getting inside a two-dimensional picture, moving around in the space and seeing it from a different angle. That is the idea behind Fotowoosh, a revolutionary new digital tool that converts flat images to three dimensional web pictures, developed by Derek Hoiem, a Carnegie Mellon University robotics doctoral candidate. While the technology is still in a working state, Freewebs, a Silver Spring, Maryland, company has bought licensing rights to Fotowoosh and plans to unleash it free to the general public in the coming month. Freewebs is a private, creative website company that provides web tools to those interested in developing a multimedia website, blog, or forum. “What makes Fotowoosh possible is the computer’s recognition of the geometry of a scene,” explains Hoiem, who collaborated on the invention with advisors Alexei Efros and Martial Hebert, both faculty members at Carnegie Mellon. "In the future, this could lead to giving the computer an image of a busy street scene and, as we watch, the computer predicts what could happen in the future, like a Harry Potter scene where an image comes to life."


How to succeed in Advance Placement courses
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 6
On the practical level, the Advanced Placement courses and exams raise lots of questions: How can I do well on the test? Should I take the college credit if I can? Should I even take AP courses in the first place? To help students deal with those concerns, here's some advice from students who have scored well, high school teachers whose students typically do well and college officials. ... Mike Steidel, director of admission at Carnegie Mellon University: "Most of the kids are not looking to skip the freshman year. What we're trying to do is challenge them to the best of their ability. If they're ready to get to the next level of a particular class, the preference here is they would essentially take other classes that would allow them to explore. You'd have to get more than five courses of credit to think of graduating a semester early. Most students have one or two classes but not half a year."


Is your wireless network safe from hackers?
WTAE | May 3
Do you use a wireless Internet network in your house or surf the Web on a laptop in public places?  If you do, data thieves could be listening in. ... Evan Wright and Aakash Shah are computer security graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. Team 4 asked them to take a drive through local neighborhoods with a laptop and a program that displays available wireless networks and whether or not they are unsecured. ... "There's people who sit in public places and take advantage of people who are surfing in those public environments and try to launch an attack," said Adam Perrig of Carnegie Mellon security. "In fact, one time I was in a Tokyo airport when it happened to me." Perrig is one the nation's leading computer security experts. He said logging onto the Web without wireless security could also allow a hacker to use your computer to launch attacks on others. "It will look like it's you," said Perrig. The solution is as simple. Read the directions that came with your wireless router when you installed it. "You really just have to understand that this technology is access into your personal space, and you need to implement what comes with the box," said Ed Schlesinger of Carnegie Mellon's computer engineering section.

Arts and Humanities

New and improved game innovation database
GameDaily | May 8
Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) today announced that it has created a new and improved Game Innovation Database at The online resource is dedicated to cataloging computer and video game "firsts." It is meant to be a resource to show the progress and evolution of games to the present point. "Our old system was a great way to store the innovations but our new system lets you see the relationships between innovations in ways not possible before," said project advisor and ETC Assistant Professor Jesse Schell. "And since anyone can contribute new content, this can easily become a central repository for game-innovation data used by universities worldwide."


St. Procopius Abbey premieres 'Novena' oratorio
Catholic Explorer | May 3
The foundation for peace casts a shadow over the heart of Jerusalem, where the desire for peace between Israel and Palestine wages war against political realities. Here lies the Dormition Abbey, which is built on the slopes of Mount Zion—a holy place where Christianity, Judaism and Islam coalesce. ... The commitment to peace and prayer attracted more than philanthropic-minded financial seeders; it motivated a musical articulation of the craving for peace at the place where it’s most needed: on the streets of Jerusalem, the center of mounting hostility and a mutual longing for the kind of peace only God can provide. What started as a handful of enthusiastic visitors to the Dormition Abbey, turned into a full-time project for fundraiser Helene Paharik, a pastoral associate in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa. Having accepted responsibility in 2005 for energizing the capital campaign to make the dream of Beit Bendict Interfaith Peace Academy come true, she roused the enthusiasm of a liturgical minister in the Diocese of Greensburg, Tom Octave, a baritone soloist and vocal performer at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., and conductor. Relying on his God-given talent in music, Octave said he embraced the peace project and sang its praises to friend and colleague, Nancy Galbraith, a world renowned composer out of Carnegie Mellon University.


Show 'em which city really rocks...(or plays classical better)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 3
Tonight the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic will take the stage at Severance Hall in Cleveland to perform an all Hindemith program. That's the home of the Cleveland Orchestra, of course, and since we will never see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra up there, this is the closest we can get to showing off Pittsburgh. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. and will be led by conductor Juan Pablo Izquierdo. I know it is a bit last-minute, but tickets are available at 412-268-2383.


Film kitchen hosts a music-video contest with all-local sounds
Pittsburgh City Paper | May 3
In past years, Film Kitchen's annual contest challenged local artists to make films and videos on a given theme. (The first, in 2003, was "Kitchen Films.") This year, the monthly screening series built its contest around not images, but sounds. The Film Kitchen Music Video Contest, on Tue., May 8, features cash prizes, audience voting and live music. ... On May 8, at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Regent Square Theater, Film Kitchen will screen at least one video for each of the eight audio tracks. Judges (who will be seeing the videos for the first time) will award cash prizes including $200 for first place. Judges include Ayanah Moor, an artist and Carnegie Mellon assistant professor; musician and producer Soy Sos (of Soma Mestizo); and filmmaker and educator Gordon Nelson. An additional $100 will go to whoever made the video that wins audience voting.

Information Technology

Carnegie Mellon professor lands Microsoft fellowship
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 8
Pittsburgh's young "genius" can add "leader in the field of computer science" to his list of titles. Luis von Ahn, 28, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, is one of five recipients nationwide of this year's Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship, a $200,000 award to help young professors who are likely to define the direction of computer science.


The thinkers: Carnegie Mellon prof using game theory to match kidneys
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 7
As scientific discovery evolves, researchers in one discipline are increasingly entering other fields through a side door. That is how Tuomas Sandholm ended up working on kidney transplants. Dr. Sandholm is a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who specializes in game theory, which is often used to find the best solutions to problems when there are millions of alternatives. He has already used those skills to start an international company, Combinenet, which has conducted 450 electronic auctions that have saved the companies involved nearly $4.4 billion. ... The Carnegie Mellon algorithm, which Dr. Sandholm developed with fellow professor Avrim Blum and graduate student David Abraham, is so new that it has only been in use for three months. It is being tested by the Alliance for Paired Donation, a voluntary kidney exchange network based in Toledo, Ohio.


Little robot can worm its way into your heart
Philadelphia Inquirer | May 7
Someday soon Cameron Riviere hopes thousands of his little robots will be crawling on patients' hearts delivering treatments that currently can only be done with massively invasive operations, if at all. Riviere, an associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, isn't trying to remake the submarine from Fantastic Voyage. His inch-long HeartLander isn't small enough to navigate blood vessels.


Entertainment digest from staff reports
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 6
Lee Gutkind didn't answer the call when it came, but he was still in time to agree to an appearance tomorrow on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central, 11 p.m.), where he'll talk about his book, "Almost Human: Making Robots Think," about the culture of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. He got a voice mail message from a publicist at W.W. Norton, publisher of his book, begging, "Please do it, please do it, please do it." Seems his cell phone had been charging and he hadn't looked at it for hours, so he didn't know what she was talking about at first. When Gutkind readily agreed, it then took the "Daily Show" five days to confirm the date.


City to have a robotic birthday party
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 4
The robots are coming, the robots are coming. To celebrate Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary in 2008, Carnegie Mellon University is trying to place dozens of robots along the North Shore, Downtown and Oakland as part of a $1.25 million effort called "Robot 250." Expect to see robotic art installations, student-made robots and robots on loan from local companies with "robo-tours" and robot "block parties" as promotional hooks. To be clear, the automatons are not necessarily going to look like "movie robots," cautioned Dennis Bateman, project director for The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Nor will they roam the streets touting the region's virtues -- "wel-come-to-the-most-live-a-ble-ci-ty-in-the-U-S-A." ... "Robot 250" was the idea of Carnegie Mellon robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh, who wanted the project to coincide with an array of initiatives being planned for Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary -- everything from a renovation of Point State Park to a Forbes Road travel guide to a reunion campaign.

Regional Impact

Ideas flow to buoy Route 8 businesses
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 5
Flood-control measures, traffic improvements and government cooperation are needed to help restore the section of Shaler's Route 8 business corridor still smarting from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, a team of specialists has suggested. "The team looked at a very small section of this community, but it's a small section that was dramatically impacted by the flooding," Shaler Manager Tim Rogers said. "We've lost 700 jobs in this small corridor. Some companies were literally wiped off the map." The team -- made up of specialists from around the country who were assembled by the Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center at Carnegie Mellon University -- outlined some of its findings during a public forum Friday at Fall Run Park in Shaler.


North Hills enrollment faces 7.5 percent decline
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 10
Enrollment in the North Hills School District is expected to decline by 7.5 percent over the next eight years, according to a study conducted by a Carnegie Mellon University professor. By 2016, enrollment is projected to be 4,409, down from 4,768 this school year, said Shelby Stewman, a professor of demography and sociology at Carnegie Mellon.


Wild bids Carnegie Mellon and performing goodbye (but gets a nice parting gift)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 10
Bill Cosby will deliver the keynote address at Carnegie Mellon University's commencement on May 20, but I am more interested in another part of the ceremony in Gesling Stadium: Earl Wild will receive an honorary doctorate. One of the titans of the piano in the 20th century, Wild attended the institution in the 1930s and has taught there off and on from 1992. This year is actually his last, since the 91-year-old has moved to Palm Springs from Columbus.


With pending shortage of engineers, experts seek national effort
Pittsburgh Business Times | May 4
In the next 10 years, according to the National Academy of Sciences, China and India will dwarf the United States in the amount of engineers they graduate. ... As living standards improve in other countries, it's likely to get even harder. Pradeep Khosla, the Indian-born dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said the improving standard of living in China and India will lure a foreign-born engineer back home after graduating from school in the U.S.


Needy? Just lean on me
Times Online | May 5
Ugh, clingy! Emotional neediness in a partner is generally considered something to be shunned and discouraged at all costs in our self-reliant Western world. But Brooke Feeney has made an award-winning discovery: if you want your partner to stop leaning on you, give them all the support they could ever need. Feeney, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, calls her discovery the dependency paradox. This week it won her the £6,000 first prize at the first Mind Gym Academic Awards. Her study of 115 volunteer couples over six months stuffs the notion of stiff upper lips. Instead it suggests that people with needy partners can create a beneficient cycle: by offering constant support the partners start to feel more confident that they can live without stabilizers.


Cybercrooks have a new target: You
Rediff News | May 4
Reminiscing about the good old days is not a pastime that owners of fast-growing businesses typically indulge in. But when it comes to the rapidly evolving world of technology security, it's hard to blame entrepreneurs for feeling nostalgic. The good old days were merely months ago, and they were a time of relative tranquility for small companies. ... The Computer Security Institute, another industry group, and the FBI recently surveyed 313 organizations and found that computer crime cost companies an average of $168,000 in 2006. "If you have any online presence, no matter how small you are, they can find you," says Marty Lindner, a senior member of the tech staff at the Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT, the Internet security research lab at Carnegie Mellon University. "And your money is as good as anyone else."