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News Clips - February 15, 2008

From February 8 to February 14, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 370 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Whittaker unleashes the robots | February 12
When William "Red" Whittaker was considering a career to pursue, he looked to find a field where he could make his mark. Adept at science and engineering, he pondered a career in computers but felt the trajectory for that industry was fairly well defined. So he picked robotics, which at the time in the 1970s was mostly the domain of science fiction. ... Whittaker is the Fredkin professor of robotics, director of the Field Robotics Center and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Among his early projects were remote-controlled robots to inspect and perform repairs in the contaminated nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pa.


In oil rich Mideast, shades of the Ivy League
The New York Times | February 11
On a hot October evening, hundreds of families flocked to the sumptuous Ritz Carlton here in this Persian Gulf capital for an unusual college fair, the Education City roadshow. Qataris, Bangladeshis, Syrians, Indians, Egyptians — in saris, in suits, in dishdashis, in jeans — came to hear what it takes to win admission to one of the five American universities that offer degrees at Education City, a 2,500-acre campus on the outskirts of Doha where oil and gas money pays for everything from adventurous architecture to professors’ salaries. ... Cornell’s medical school, which combines pre-med training and professional training over six years, will graduate the first Qatar-trained physicians this spring. Virginia Commonwealth University brought its art and design program to Qatari women 10 years ago and began admitting men this year. Carnegie Mellon offers computer and business programs. *** Part two of a two-part series on Carnegie Mellon Qatar and other universities abroad.  It also includes an interactive Q & A with Charles Thorpe and a student.


Retail therapy: Does sadness mean spending?
ABC News | February 8
Down in the mouth? Why not pick up something nice for yourself? It's a practice so common it has come to be called retail therapy. And in a recent study, researchers uncovered evidence of what shopaholics have known for years -- that people may be willing to spend more on themselves when they're feeling sad. ... To reach their conclusions, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pittsburgh showed volunteers either a video clip that showed grief following a tragic death or a neutral clip from a nature show. Afterward, participants had the chance to purchase an ordinary item -- a sporty water bottle. They found that people who'd watched the sad video clip offered an average of 300 percent more money for the item than those who had viewed the neutral clip.


U.S. universities rush to set up outposts abroad
The New York Times | February 10
When John Sexton, the president of New York University, first met Omar Saif Ghobash, an investor trying to entice him to open a branch campus in the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Sexton was not sure what to make of the proposal — so he asked for a $50 million gift. ... The American system of higher education, long the envy of the world, is becoming an important export as more universities take their programs overseas. ... At Education City in Doha, Qatar’s capital, they can study medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, international affairs at Georgetown, computer science and business at Carnegie Mellon, fine arts at Virginia Commonwealth, engineering at Texas A&M, and soon, journalism at Northwestern. *** Part one of a two-part series on Carnegie Mellon Qatar and other universities abroad.  It also includes an interactive Q & A with Charles Thorpe and a student.

Education for Leadership

PG South: Baldwin grad fits the bill at Carnegie Mellon
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 14
Carnegie Mellon basketball coach Tony Wingen saw flashes of Ryan Einwag's basketball potential when he was recruiting him at Baldwin High School. ... The trick was convincing Einwag to come to Carnegie Mellon. It wasn't as hard to do as for some kids Wingen recruits. Einwag picked Carnegie Mellon over two other University Athletic Association schools -- Emory and Rochester -- and several Pittsburgh-area colleges for a few reasons, including its proximity to home and its strong academic reputation. "I wanted the challenge," Einwag said. "Knowing the education I would get at Carnegie Mellon really helped. I knew it would be a great experience." That's exactly what Carnegie Mellon athletics are about, Wingen said. Academics come first, with an emphasis on managing time and handling a rigorous, difficult class schedule.


Newsmaker: Betrade 'Betty' Mbom
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 8
Residence: Oakland Age: 21 Education: Plans to graduate this year with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a minor in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Biological Sciences Noteworthy: Mbom was selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as one of five recipients of its Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study.

Arts and Humanities

Art Review: Carnegie Mellon exhibition resounds, responds
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 12
An idea-permeated, very contemporary exhibition at Carnegie Mellon University includes the novel contributions of an artist whose works were made in response to the other artworks exhibited. Ian Finch -- a published Pittsburgh poet who has also studied experimental book arts -- began creating his studiously rendered graphite wall drawings as the art of Maya Schindler, Sarah E. Wood and Colin Zaug was being installed. His compositions are inspired by Venn diagrams --overlapping circles designed by logician John Venn to show relationships among groups of things -- and supplemented by cryptic text ("another body mind," "sans seraphim," "melted abacus"). Finch will give a free public artist's talk at noon Thursday at the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery.

Information Technology

Shakespeare goes digital again
The Chronicle of Higher Education | February 11
Michael Witmore, an associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, announced the launch of Shakespeare’s Global Globe on Saturday. The site is a map that indicates the locations of self-reported Shakespeare readers across the globe. If they’re reading one of Shakespeare’s works, visitors can input their location, and one of his plays, via a slick revolving display. You can also filter the map according to genre or the title.


Bottled water being taxed, banned in some cities
WTAE Channel 4 News | February 8
Metropolitan areas across the country are banning or putting heavier taxes on bottled water because officials said the plastic bottles are bad for the environment. ... "You should not feel guilty about drinking bottled water. It's a rational thing to do. Public water is safe, but bottled water can be a higher quality of what we can get out of our taps," Carnegie Mellon University water expert David Dzombak said. What bottled water drinkers should feel guilty about, Dzombak said, is not recycling the bottles. Dzombak said he would like to see the state institute a deposit back for plastics bottles.

Regional Impact

County's financial future debated
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 12
On an unusually balmy February afternoon last week, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, flanked by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, stood in a stuffy room at the City-County Building, watching Gov. Ed Rendell promote his budget. In these times, Mr. Rendell said, with the ever-looming prospect of a national economic downturn, Pennsylvania, unlike many other states, is doing well. ... In its 2007 budget, the county also sold off about $14 million in tax liens and used a last-minute $19.9 million payment from state gambling revenue to cover a deficit. At this rate, Mr. Onorato's critics like former county Chief Executive Jim Roddey and Carnegie Mellon University economist Bob Strauss, argue that short of raising property taxes, the county and its "onetime fix" approach to budgetary deficits places it on the brink of financial disaster.


Study: Wider school voucher programs make people happier
The New York Sun | February 8
Universal school voucher programs that include religious schools make people happier than vouchers limited to nonsectarian schools only, a new study argues. The report, by an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, Maria Marta Ferreyra, simulated two imaginary voucher programs in the Chicago area using an economic model. The model creates imaginary households that make "decisions" about where to live and send their children based on the quality of schools and neighborhood characteristics.


Lunar landing challenge lures him to Carnegie Mellon team
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 13
A successful project requires organization and talented people working toward a common goal. Tony Spear used that tried-and-true formula to land Pathfinder on Mars in 1997. He now intends to use that plan at Carnegie Mellon University to land a rover on the moon and claim the $25 million Google Lunar X Prize. "It's a wonderful thrill to come back to Carnegie Mellon to win the X Prize," said Mr. Spear, a 1962 graduate. "My team was the first to land a rover on Mars, and I'm here to win the space lottery on the moon."


Pittsburgh developing a home for robotic toy makers
Pop City Media | February 13
Two new robotics toy startups, both Carnegie Mellon University spinouts, are tooling away in Pittsburgh on the next generation of high-tech toys. Interbots and Bossa Nova Concepts are working behind closed doors in Technology Collaborative spaces on Craig Street, developing family-friendly, emotive robots that they hope to unveil commercially within two years.


Esther Bush earns praise for guidance of Urban League
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 10
As a child, Esther Bush thought it was unfair that many of the fun things in life, such as climbing trees and driving trucks, seemed reserved for boys and men. ... A lifetime passion for causes -- education, civil rights, social services -- propelled Bush to the helm of the Urban League at a time when it was struggling financially. She has guided it through more than a decade of success, say government, civic and educational leaders in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. ... Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon, who served on the Pittsburgh Urban League's board for nine years, says Bush's energy astonishes those who work with her. "She's a ball of fire," Cohon says. "She's a great leader -- not only as the leader of the Urban League, but also as a voice of the African-American community in Pittsburgh and the region."


Study: If your date is hot, so are you
United Press International | February 12
Attractive people are popular targets for romantic pursuits, but they tend to flock together with other attractive companions, a U.S. study found. Researchers Leonard Lee of Columbia University in New York, George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Dan Ariely of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked with James Hong and Jim Young of, a Web site that allows members to rate others on physical attractiveness.


Advance reported in biosensor technology
United Press International | February 11
U.S. biotechnologists have created fluorogen activating proteins, or FAPs, that are expected to become a key component of molecular biosensor technology. The scientists at Carnegie Mellon University's Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center said the FAPs can be used to monitor biological activities of individual proteins and other biomolecules within living cells in real time.


No free lunch: Lesson from a Nobel Laureate
Philippine Daily Inquirer | February 10
The Philippine economy could have been growing at eight percent or more now, if not for inconsistencies in economic policy that have beset our country over recent years. This is the inference one could get from the work that won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics for Prof. Finn Erling Kydland, a Norwegian economist now teaching in the University of California at Santa Barbara. ...  What earned him the Nobel Prize jointly with his academic advisor at Carnegie Mellon University, Edward C. Prescott, was their work on real business cycle theory and time inconsistency in economic policy.