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News Clips - July 18, 2008

From July 11 to July 17, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 503 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Robotic art commemorates Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary
USA Today (AP) | July 16
A green roller coaster twists above the entrance to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. But this attraction isn't for human riders — the coaster's cars are filled with plants and a solar panel that triggers the ride to stop and start. "It bends the idea of what robotics is about and who it's for," said Illah Nourbakhsh, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and one of the originators of the Robot 250 idea. He hopes the project shows that rather than just being for industrial automation or tinkering engineers, robots can give everyday people a new way to express themselves.


Pittsburgh is robot country
Christian Science Monitor | July 16
The combination of Carnegie Mellon University’s pioneering robotics program and leftovers from the city’s industrial past have created something of a perfect storm that is fostering the development of the next generation of robotics. “Pittsburgh offers a special chance to look at robotics,” says Carl DiSalvo, associate professor at Georgia Tech’s digital media program and one of the cocreators of Robot 250. “Because of [Carnegie Mellon’s] robotics institute being here … and there’s also an interesting history of the relationship between robotics and labor and the city that makes Pittsburgh a unique place to look at robotics."


Keeping up with the Jetsons
Amateur Economists | July 14
In about 10 years we could all feel a little closer, technologically speaking, to George Jetson. Although our cars probably won’t be flying, they could be driving themselves. In June 2008, Carnegie Mellon University issued a press release stating that their robotics institute had just received a $5 million grant from General Motors. This money will be used to continue one of the institute’s main projects: autonomous cars. According to Dr. Raj Rajkumar, who is the co-director of the project, the technology for driverless cars could be available to the public in as little as 10 years with the cars themselves available by 2030.


Defense, NSF team up on national security research
Science Magazine | July 11
Will NSF's involvement provide sufficient cover for the Pentagon? Silver thinks "the proper protections" are in place, including promises that the Pentagon-supported research will be unclassified and that scientists will be able to publish without interference. Cognitive psychologist Baruch Fischhoff of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says academic reviewers should ensure top-notch applicants.

Education for Leadership

Carnegie Mellon student crowned Miss Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 14
Kendria Perry of Pittsburgh has been crowned the new Miss Pennsylvania. Ms. Perry, 23, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University originally from North Carolina, was chosen from among 27 contestants at the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageant at Nazareth Area High School in Northampton County on Saturday night. Ms. Perry, who entered the contest as Miss Armstrong County and played a classical piano piece during the talent competition, plans to champion Art Works, an arts education initiative, during her reign. She receives a $7,000 scholarship and a place in the Miss America pageant in January.

Arts and Humanities

After terror charges, artist exhibits academic freedom
The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) | July 18
Richard Pell, an assistant professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University who collaborates with the art ensemble, believes students have become more reluctant to explore boundaries. "They are programmed not to cross lines and not to transgress," he says. When they see an artist like Mr. Kurtz who gets in trouble for doing so, says Mr. Pell, "it raises the specter of fear of doing anything out of the ordinary, which is suicide for the artistic process."


Out of sight, out of clime: Burying carbon in a vault of sea and rock
Scientific American | July 14
"On the one hand you wouldn't want to bet the future of U.S. climate policy on it until one has done more work, but on the other hand it looks quite promising," says engineer M. Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University, a carbon sequestration expert. "In contrast to CO2 injected in the ground, which is buoyant, in this case it won't be buoyant."

Regional Impact

Valve failure blamed in Monroeville gas spill
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | July 16
David Dzombak, an environmental engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, also said Abers Creek shouldn't face any long-term impacts from the spill. "Long-term, gasoline is pretty biodegradable," he said.


The BigBots are coming
Pittsburgh City Paper | July 10
One of the biggest BigBots is Grisha Coleman's "Reach, Robot." Coleman, a composer, choreographer and research fellow at Carnegie Mellon's Studio for Creative Inquiry, installed sensors around the one-acre PPG Plaza with the help of roboticist Frank Broz. The sensors use LIDAR technology -- think radar with lasers. As visitors walk through the laser field, they activate sound recordings, which change in reaction to where people are and what they do.


FED FOCUS-Uber-regulator role to stretch mandate, manpower
The Guardian (Reuters) | July 15
"It's clear there is a greater role for the Fed. But exactly how that process evolves is hard to judge," said Chester Spatt, director of the center for financial markets at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.


Camps keep children busy
Gulf Times | July 13
Carnegie Mellon University Qatar and Georgetown University (Qatar), both Education City-based institutions, recently concluded their summer programs. With such a wide array of camps and workshops available, students may keep themselves busy during the summer, the principal of a private school said. “The camps also leave lasting memories in children and some of the participants develop life-long friendships at such places."


The cult of the dabbawala
The Economist | July 10
Harvard Business School has produced a case study of the dabbawalas, urging its students to learn from the organization, which relies entirely on human endeavor and employs no technology. For Paul Goodman, a professor of organizational psychology at Carnegie Mellon University who has made a documentary on the dabbawalas, this is one of the critical aspects of their appeal to Western management thinkers. “Most of our modern business education is about analytic models, technology and efficient business practices,” he says. The dabbawalas, by contrast, focus more on “human and social ingenuity”, he says.