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News Clips - September 14, 2007

From September 7 to September 13, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 208 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


DEA hopeful over drop in cocaine
USA Today | September 12
The DEA found a broad drop in the quantity of cocaine at the top levels of the supply chain in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest, according to a recently declassified DEA analysis. The analysis found the most significant decreases in supply and largest price increases for big suppliers rather than street-level dealers, suggesting dealers may be selling cocaine that is less pure to keep prices stable for regular customers. ... Eventually, drug traffickers will develop new routes to get around whatever is stopping them, says Alfred Blumstein, a professor who specializes in criminology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's a resilient process," Blumstein says. "I would anticipate that over a period of time, like six months to a year," the drug traffickers will "be back in shape."


Software turns photos from bad to good | September 12
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what can you say with two million snapshots? With some help from the Flickr photo-sharing Web site, two researchers at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University have shown how a new picture-patching program can transform flawed vacation shots into “Wow!”-worthy masterpieces. ... Graduate student James Hays and assistant robotics and computer science professor Alexei Efros are careful to point out that their digital patch is not intended to accurately restore all the information that should have been there but to fill in the missing pixels with images that could have been there.


How policy makers use number analyses to turn our heads
The Wall Street Journal | September 7
Most of us go about our daily lives without having to handle sums in the billions and trillions. So when advocates, politicians or business leaders want to get a rise from us over, say, wasteful spending, they have to figure out how to get us to understand what their studies have uncovered -- and to see it their way. ... Mr. Schwartz, editor of the Nonproliferation Review, admits to hesitating before using the stacking image. He decided to bring several bricks of dollar bills to a news conference about his report and recalls those went over well. Robert Siegler, a Carnegie Mellon cognitive psychologist, calls the stack-in-space image "silly" and adds, "It doesn't provide any more intuition than people already had."

Education for Leadership

Teachers, principals have huge influence
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 11
When it comes to the racial achievement gap, principals or teachers can have a bigger impact on achievement in one year than whether a child is poor or from a single-parent home, according to a Carnegie Mellon University professor. At a Pittsburgh Public Schools education committee meeting last night, Robert Strauss, a professor in the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon, released a report on the racial achievement gap that he conducted with graduate students.


Colleges Stress Moral Leadership
K5 The Home Team (The Christian Science Monitor) | September 10
Higher education's mission has always stretched beyond academics. But how do colleges make concrete the stuff of vision statements? Motivated in part by concerns about student cheating and broader ethical lapses in society, colleges and universities are increasingly exploring ways to prepare students to be moral exemplars and socially responsible leaders. As the world becomes more interconnected, they're also stepping up efforts to turn out graduates who are engaged global citizens. ... Carnegie Mellon, a research university in Pittsburgh, is piloting a program for about 700 first-year students to talk over issues such as: What is my aim in life? What is the purpose of work? Faculty volunteers will lead bimonthly group discussions centered on a book of their choice. "Students have always shown an attraction towards discussions of this type ... [but] Carnegie Mellon is a very work-oriented place - students are pretty crunched," says Indira Nair, vice provost for education. But she hasn't had any trouble finding volunteers to lead discussions. "Most faculty, I think, feel that it should be a vital part of a college education."

Arts and Humanities

Carnegie Mellon in tech venture with Harrisburg University
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 11
Carnegie Mellon University is collaborating on the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies to be based at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. ... The Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon, created in 1998 as a joint venture between its School of Computer Science and College of Fine Arts, pioneered a patented technology, called synthetic interviews. It enables computer users to use speech recognition to interview historical and fictional characters.

Information Technology

Feds add charges to hacker based in San Francisco
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 12
A San Francisco-based hacker convicted of breaking into a government computer system faces new federal charges in Pittsburgh of operating an identity theft network that sold tens of thousands of stolen credit card numbers, some to a government informant in Western Pennsylvania. ... Scams such as Butler's are common, said Marty Lindner, a senior technical staff member at the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute. "In general, the vast majority of attacks like this happen because people in charge of protecting the information haven't done their due diligence," Lindner said. "It only takes an advocate who is mildly motivated (to steal.) It doesn't take a rocket scientist."


FAQ: Inside the high-stakes 700-MHz-spectrum auction
Wired Magazine | September 11
The FCC's 700-MHz-spectrum auction, now set for January 16, 2008, has the potential to affect everything from the cost of your wireless service to the competitive landscape among U.S. mobile providers for years to come. ... The 700-MHz auction represents the largest portion of spectrum to become available in years, according to David Farber, professor of computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. Very broadly, this spectrum is divided into two bands -- the lower and upper 700 MHz. The lower band is 48 MHz wide, and the upper band is 60 MHz wide. Of the upper 60 MHz, 24 MHz is being reserved for public safety, according the to the FCC.


Charming Pythonistas
O'Reilly Media | September 11
Women are woefully underrepresented in IT. With few exceptions, women represent less than 30 percent of the IT workforce in most countries, while comprising approximately half the workforce. Even worse, undergraduate enrollment in CS majors has trended downwards, from 36 percent of US graduates in CS down to only 17 percent in 2004. ... In the late 1990s, Carnegie Mellon University was able to improve entry and retention rates significantly. What worked for them? Here's some of their advice from their groundbreaking study described in Unlocking the Clubhouse: "Programs should provide mentoring and community, multiple pathways into the curriculum for students with differing levels of experience, a high quality and positive learning environment, and should develop a culture that supports and celebrates multiple approaches to the study of computer science. Paint a Broad Picture of Computer Science: ...many prospective students, including some of the most enthusiastic, inherit from high school and society a narrow notion of computer science as focused on computers and on coding. Introductory courses that use integrative projects that focus on principles over programming, or that link science to applications, help broaden students' vision."


Council earmarks $1 million for green building research
Concrete Products Magazine | September Issue
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced a major research commitment covering energy and water security; global climate change prevention; indoor environmental quality; and, passive survivability in the face of natural and man-made disasters. ... “Research will help us advance the practice of building science,” adds USGBC Board Member Vivian Loftness of Carnegie Mellon University. “It should also track and validate as quickly as possible the profound connection between green buildings and human health and productivity. We sense this connection intuitively, and we're beginning to have some astonishing data about fewer absences in schools, greater productivity and fewer injuries in business, even higher sales in retail environments. We need research that proves the business case so profoundly that an organization's commitment to building green becomes the easiest and best operational decision they can make."

Regional Impact

Cranberry braces for Westinghouse move
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 13
It's the largest influx of jobs into any one Pennsylvania municipality in more than a generation. But beyond knowing that the relocation of Westinghouse Electric Co.'s vast nuclear energy campus to Cranberry will create more jobs and traffic, area officials say they are uncertain about exactly how that will play out in Cranberry and nearby communities, the region's fastest-growing suburbs. ... The district has hired a demographer from Carnegie Mellon University and is in constant contact about new housing with each of the nine municipalities that make up the 134-square-mile district. "We realize that this is just the calm before the storm and that we have to begin planning. But we have adapted to growth in the past and will do the same in the future," Tylinski said.


Tepper School of Business selects Glowpoint | September 12
Glowpoint Inc. (OTC:GLOW.PK), an Internet-based video service provider in Hillside, today announced a three-year agreement with the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Glowpoint has been selected for the school's FlexMode M.B.A. program to facilitate video-classroom sessions to employees of large corporations. The Tepper School was ranked third among the top M.B.A. programs in the nation in The Wall Street Journal in 2006. ... The program will provide access to video systems at corporations throughout the U.S. via Glowpoint's conferencing services.


Carnegie Mellon and Caterpillar partnership will bring robotics center and jobs to Pittsburgh
Pop City Media | September 12
Carnegie Mellon University and Caterpillar Inc. are joining forces to develop a new age of heavy machinery that will rely on robotics technology to improve safety and productivity in a variety of industries. ... "The region should look at this as a good opportunity with a great company for the future of robotics,” Bares says. “This is a field that is in its early childhood and Caterpillar feels the time is right to begin developing these products. We’re confident that it also will provide Caterpillar with access to some of the best minds in the business."


Onorato calls for changes to casino garage
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 13
Pressure appears to be building on the developer of the North Shore casino to make changes to mitigate the impact a massive parking garage will have on the city skyline. Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said yesterday he believes changes should be made so the garage "blends into the community" and doesn't dominate the landscape. ... Mr. Onorato said there are examples of garages being done right, including one at Carnegie Mellon University where "you can't even tell it's a garage" to a new parking structure on the North Shore between Heinz Field and PNC Park.


Pittsburgh study: Teachers key in affecting pupils' success
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 11
Though yawning achievement gaps exist between black and white students in Pittsburgh Public Schools, who the teacher is might be the best predictor of how well students will do, according to a two-year study of student performance presented to the school board Monday night. The report, which included test scores in 199 math teachers' classrooms, found average test scores varied as much as 59 percent from the top teacher's classroom to the bottom, regardless of the students' race, according to the study led by Robert P. Strauss, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. ... As students get older, the achievement gap grows, Strauss said. In math, white students score about 3 percent higher than the statewide average in Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. Black students score about 10 percent below average. By 11th grade, that 13 percent gap increases to nearly 20 percent, the study found.


Science Center's 'Bodies' exhibit controversial
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 7
Organizers of the controversial "Bodies -- The Exhibition" hope the 15 preserved Chinese cadavers don't just bring crowds to the North Shore center. They and other people involved in bringing the seven-month exhibit here see the bodies as an unprecedented opportunity to educate and inspire debate. "It's an excellent occasion to have a dialogue on significant issues," said Peter Madsen, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics at Carnegie Mellon University. "It's very admirable about the center that they don't want to stifle that dialogue; instead, they're encouraging it."


QSTP TECHtalk delves into what makes and breaks a joint venture
Al Bawaba | September 13
Seventy-five percent of joint ventures fail within their first year.  And the top two reasons they fail are lack of due diligence, and partners not agreeing on firm goals from the start.  These insights were revealed by Robert Hager, Managing Partner of Patton Boggs, at QSTP’s TECHtalks last night at the Diplomatic Club. “Joint ventures fail because they are put together too quickly” Hager explained.  “Add into the mix cultural differences and different concepts of time, risk and reward when taking on an international partner, and you really have to lay your groundwork.  You need to spend a lot of time planning and negotiating to ensure a successful venture”. ... As part of the renowned Qatar Foundation, founded by the country’s Emir, the science park is co-located with campuses of Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, Weill Cornell and other premier universities.  It provides research-friendly premises for companies from around the world, plus an incubator and investment for technology start-ups.


Greater strides in the field of education
The Economic Times | September 12
Recently, five leading American Universities including the University of California campuses at Berkeley and San Diego, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University and State University of New York at Buffalo, which are ranked among the best universities in the world has joined hands with Indian institutions led by AMRITA Vishwa Vidhyapeetham, ISRO and Department of Science and Technology (DST) to enhance science and engineering education in India over Edusat. ...  The program will expose US faculty to potential research partnerships in India and could also promote more Indian students to gain admission into US engineering schools.


Carnegie Mellon University holds opening ceremony for students
Middle East North Africa Financial Network | September 10
The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar announced that a total of fifty-eight freshmen as well as faculty and staff have attended a formal convocation event to commence their four-year study at the university, The Peninsula reported. ... She later concluded that the class is the largest class to join the university and consists of 26 male and 32 female students, 41 students enrolled in the business administration course and 17 in the university's computer science course.