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News Clips - January 25, 2008

From January 18 to January 24, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 649 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Business schools take more students straight out of college
The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) | January 25
When Shelli Ulrich entered an M.B.A. program four months after graduating from college, her friends warned her that she would be at a disadvantage without the years of corporate experience most of her classmates could draw on. But the traditional timetable of working for four or five years before starting an M.B.A. didn't work for her. ... Fortunately for her, the University of Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business was also rethinking whether it made sense to insist that M.B.A. students come in with several years of corporate work under their belts. ... A growing number of business schools, including those at Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and Stanford Universities and the University of Texas at Austin, have begun similar programs to catch promising students early. The result, they hope, will be a more diverse student body, with more women and members of minority groups, as well as talented and ambitious students who might otherwise forgo an M.B.A., particularly if they get sidetracked by careers or head off to other professional schools.


"Smart" casting for slightly smug comedy
Reuters | January 21
With a title like "Smart People," a film placed in academia signals that its characters might be too clever for their own good. ... The savvy casting of Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and "Juno's" hot young star Ellen Page in seemingly tailor-made roles gives Miramax plenty of marketing hooks for its April 11 release. ... For students at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid) is a horror show: An acerbic widower who has lost interest in even his own specialty, Victorian literature, he is self-absorbed, demanding, arrogant, contemptuous of his students and grouchy as hell. He doesn't warm up one bit at home; nevertheless, he is a role model for his young daughter Vanessa (Page), who already is as friendless and conceited as dad. She is even a Young Republican. Older brother James (Ashton Holmes) lives in a dorm, presumably to escape the poisonous atmosphere at home and to keep his many secrets.


Will the cure be worse than the disease? (Fortune Magazine) | January 21
The wobbly economy is overtaking Iraq as the issue weighing most heavily on the minds of America's voters. And Washington has noticed. The White House and Congress are almost certain to enact some kind of stimulus package. But like all such temporary, feel-good measures, it will generate a quick blip in growth that will quickly evaporate. In reality only one player has the power to do anything swift and decisive: the Federal Reserve. And its chairman, Ben Bernanke, has already made his intentions abundantly clear, with a stunning three-quarters of a percentage point rate cut announced Tuesday following an unscheduled meeting. Unfortunately, the cure he's prescribing may be worse than the disease. ... But Bernanke is setting the stage for an even bigger recession down the road. Just as the ultra-low rates of the early 2000s created many of the problems we're experiencing today, pumping money into the system would probably stoke inflation, forcing the Fed to hike rates sharply in the near future. "It's better to take a small recession and kill inflation immediately instead of facing high inflation and a really big recession later," says Carnegie Mellon economist Allan Meltzer.


New rocket has problem with vibration
The New York Times (AP) | January 20
NASA is working to solve a potentially dangerous vibration problem in its next generation of launching vehicles. Engineers are concerned that a new rocket, the Ares I, which will replace the space shuttle and send astronauts on their way to the moon, could shake violently during the first minutes of flight. The problem is common to solid rocket boosters. If not corrected, the shaking, which arises from the powerful first stage of the rocket, could “shake apart the whole structure,” said Paul Fischbeck, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “They know it’s a real problem,” said Professor Fischbeck, who has consulted on risk issues with NASA.


Has America lost the war on drugs?
National Public Radio | January 16
Over the course of 35 years, the U.S. government has spent an estimated $500 billion dollars fighting the drug trade, yet critics argue that there has been very little to show for it. In an article published in November, Rolling Stone reporter Ben Wallace-Wells explains why he thinks America has lost the war. ***Carnegie Mellon professor of operations research and public policy, Jonathan Caulkins, was a guest on this Talk of the Nation broadcast.

Education for Leadership

Skating: Ice dance team takes unconventional route to nationals
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 23
Maybe it was because they each had walked away from ice dancing. Or maybe it was the fact that they had similar training styles tucked into busy lives. "You put all those things together, and it just works," Peter Rodgers-Fischl said yesterday from St. Paul, Minn., where he and ice dancing partner Marsha Snyder will compete in the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in St. Paul Minn., beginning today with compulsory dance. ... Rodgers-Fischl, 21, a North Allegheny High School graduate, is a junior in biomedical and chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He teaches skating at several area rinks. The two were matched less than a year ago by a coach who formerly had worked with each. They finished second in an Eastern sectional in November.

Arts and Humanities

For many, home valuations are psychological
Chicago Tribune | January 20
This time it's personal. Sure we worry when the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops or the dollar takes a bow. But when we hear our homes are losing value, we react viscerally. Buyers and sellers, who have their finger to the market winds and are making dollar decisions, are the most emotionally vulnerable. And emotions and sound financial judgments don't always mix. ... "But people tend to think, 'maybe if I wait prices will drop more,'" notes George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology, Carnegie Mellon University. It's only in hindsight, though, that we can see the bottom of a cycle, he says.,0,2698625.story


Write it yourself
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 19
In the never-ending battle to get kids to read, it would be easy to assume that libraries and video games are mortal enemies -- with the mesmerizing sorcery of Harry Potter in one corner, and the irresistible techno-stimulation of the Nintendo Wii in the other. But at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at least, that's not the case. In fact, the library has partnered with a team of graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center to create a new kind of game that helps children become storytellers, called "My StoryMaker."

Information Technology

How to implement role-based access control
TMCnet (Computer Weekly Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) | January 21
Counselors do it, actors do it, and people advertising on handwritten cards in telephone boxes do it. Although role playing is not common in IT departments, if they were to do more of it, it might prevent the kind of situation that analyst Rob Enderle remembers occurring at an IT company several years ago. ... Role-based access control takes the privileges associated with each role in the company and maps them directly into the systems used for accessing IT resources. Implemented properly, it enables users to carry out activities - and only those activities - allowed by their role. Unfortunately, many companies do not adequately align their security needs with their IT security. "They may have defined separation of duties in their business model on paper, but they did not enforce it technically. You can easily open up a vulnerability that way," says Dawn Cappelli, team lead for insider threats in Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team.


AWEA backs power market
Renewable Energy World | January 17
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has issued a statement confirming the US wind industry's broad support for competitive wholesale electricity markets. ...  The industry also favors RTOs in their role in minimizing the operational impacts of variable resources by netting out aggregate load and generation over a wide region and facilitating regional transmission planning. However, the APPA statement said: 'A recent study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center finds that "there is no evidence that membership in an RTO (Regional Transmission Organization) promoted the development of renewables." In fact, the study finds that when the variable of RTO participation was isolated from other factors (such as state requirements for renewable production), there was no relationship between RTOs and renewable energy development and a "negative correlation" between RTOs and wind energy.

Regional Impact

City sidewalk, busy sidewalks make area towns more livable
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | January 24
A recent lunchtime trip across the street was harrowing for four out-of-towners trying to get Primanti's sandwiches. With a car turning into a parking lot and trucks zooming by, crossing four lanes of traffic on University Boulevard in Moon felt like "walking over Mt. Everest," Anthony Caldarelli said of their effort. ... Moon is one of several suburbs in the region following a national trend to make developments friendlier for pedestrians. Sidewalks are a crucial element, planners say, giving people an option to cars and a place to interact with neighbors and shoppers. "The only way that can happen is with sidewalks. You have to walk," said Luis F. Rico-Gutierrez, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Remaking Cities Institute. "If you're in a car, you're in a capsule. You can't interact with anyone."


Bridging the gap
Pop City Media | January 23
The erasable board in her Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute office tells the tale. In a loopy, high-tech scrawl there are inquiries, possibilities, projects – India to Africa, Qatar to Southeast Asia, six months to the horizon. “We get wonderful, amazing e-mails from all over the world,” Bernardine Dias smiles. “TechBridgeWorld brings people together interested in working on these projects, in sharing resources and infrastructure.” A Sri Lankan with a love for singing and science, dancing, reading, and cooking, Mary Bernardine Dias yearned to study physics. A scholarship brought her overseas to Hamilton College, 1994. Upstate New York? “I came from the tropics,” she says. “I was freezing."


The next page: On the wings of Dr. King
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 20
Since 1999, the Creative Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University has organized the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards. The guidelines call for poems or personal narratives that respond to or are inspired by the legacy of Dr. King. The competition is open to students from local high schools and Carnegie Mellon. Fifteen high school students were honored for their work. We present here first-place winners in prose and poetry.


Adelaide student receives first communication scholarship | January 23
Courage and perseverance have paid off for young Adelaide IT specialist Megan Boundey. Megan is the first person to be awarded a Telstra Media Communication Scholarship to study the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. The student, who has worked at the Australian Rail Track Corporation for the past three years, has been awarded the $90,000 scholarship and will begin study at Carnegie Mellon University in January 2008.


Is Wall St. pushing economy down wrong path?
The China Post (Los Angeles Times) | January 17
Is a recession a serious risk -- or is it mostly in Wall Street's mind? Financial markets have descended into a major funk in the last two weeks, driving key stock indexes to their lowest levels in more than a year. But some analysts say the action in stocks and bonds is overstating the chances of grave trouble in the economy. And they contend the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Bush administration are being goaded by markets to take economic-stimulus measures that may be costly, excessive and even unnecessary. "The administration, Congress, the Fed and the day traders on Wall Street all seem to be in panic mode," said Allan Meltzer, a veteran economist and Fed-watcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.


Automobile's future is electronic, green
Middle East Times (AFP) | January 17
The automobile's future is electronic and green, using alternate fuels and slick technology to protect both people and the environment, the head of the world's largest car company said Tuesday. General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner's prediction came in an unprecedented address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). ... A Chevrolet Tahoe converted into a self-driving vehicle won the US defense department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Urban Challenge by maneuvering through traffic on mock city streets in November. Carnegie Mellon University students modified the SUV into an "autonomous vehicle" with backing from GM.