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News Clips - March 14, 2008

From March 7 to March 13, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 281 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Venture capital spreads the wealth around the country
USA Today | March 10
While fabled Silicon Valley still attracts the most venture capital in the USA, several other cities, states and regions boast the fastest growth rates for start-ups and venture dollars over the past decade. The number of start-ups in New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C., region has risen anywhere from 70% to 600% since 1997, according to data released Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Thomson Financial. ... The heart of the steel industry last century, this city is home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and other world-class institutions that specialize in medical, biotech and pharmaceutical research.


Trumpets vs. crumpets in a robot duel
The New York Times | March 9
“Welcome to Honda! Please follow me,” Asimo, my guide, implored in a chirpy voice. As I walked with Asimo, a humanoid robot developed by the Honda Motor Company, to a table in the reception area of the company’s headquarters here, I thought how similar my guide seemed to a child in a spaceman costume. It was more than the gleaming outfit or the helmeted head with a dark visor covering the face — Asimo even had the deliberate walk of a child burdened by a bulky outfit and unsure of his surroundings. ... It could be that just building humanoid robots is accomplishment enough. James Morris, a computer scientist at the Mountain View, Calif., campus of Carnegie Mellon University, said that Asimo and the Toyota robots were inspiring demonstrations. “Like going to the moon, it’s science as performance art,” he said.


The Pennsylvania polka
Newsweek Magazine | March 8
At the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, on Polish Hill in Pittsburgh, they can't afford a janitor anymore. The ladies of the parish volunteer, swabbing the tile floors and polishing the mahogany pews. They are a familiar Pittsburgh type: the wry, forthright, steel-willed wives of hardworking, shot-and-beer men. Long after morning mass, in the dim sanctuary, I asked the "Stara Baba" crew (Polish for "old grandma") whom they support in the suddenly pivotal Pennsylvania Democratic primary next month. The uniform answer: Hillary Clinton. ... Still, his situation isn't hopeless. Polish Hill is only one of many Pittsburghs. There are no steel mills left. The largest employers include medical centers, the University of Pittsburgh, PNC Bank and Mellon Financial Corp. Pitt and Carnegie Mellon have spawned a fertile digital culture to match the medical one; programmers, painters and poets are flocking to stately old neighborhoods. A symbol of this change is the city's mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, who is all of 28 years old.

Education for Leadership

Newsmaker: Courtney Ondeck
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 7
Residence: Oakland Age: 21 Occupation: Senior at Carnegie Mellon University Family: Parents, Marian and Raymond; younger siblings, Matthew (also at Carnegie Mellon) and Cathy Education: Finishing her studies for a bachelor's degree with a double major in materials science engineering and biomedical engineering; 2004 graduate of Peters Township High School Background: Inspired by her parents -- a nurse and an engineer -- Ondeck is eyeing a career as a pediatrician with a specialty in bioengineering. At Carnegie Mellon, she has researched the use of magnetized nanoparticles of iron cobalt to treat cancer.

Arts and Humanities

Tech is everywhere
Stage Directions Magazine | March Issue
First and foremost, Carnegie Mellon University is known as an engineering school. Yes, you can study linguistics and sociology, but Carnegie Mellon is most renowned for its chemists and programmers, its data networks and robot festivals. So it’s no wonder that the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama is packed with stage technicians, and its workshops are packed with top-notch equipment. ... Carnegie Mellon Drama is a world-renowned conservatory; its productions are diverse, as are their technical requirements. This spring, Carnegie Mellon will stage August Wilson’s Piano Lesson, Friedrich Schiller’s Don Carlos and a citywide Commedia dell’Arte project, plus two additional labs in the department’s “Playground” series, which showcases independent student works.

Information Technology

Municipal wireless success demands public involvement, experts say
Government Technology Magazine | March 10
Most media have it wrong. Municipal wireless networks across the United States didn't stumble in 2007 - high-profile cities where deals fell apart, such as Chicago, San Francisco and Houston, were not going to finance, own or operate their respective networks. These weren't municipal networks at all. The business model that faltered in 2007 was the "private corporate franchise" model based on the deal that Philadelphia and EarthLink agreed to in 2006. It was, in fact, the free market that failed last year - not governments in their traditional role as the builders and maintainers of critical infrastructure. ... How we define a municipal network has repercussions for every aspect of next-generation network-building, and it will reverberate through 2008. Jon Peha, associate director of the Center for Wireless and Broadband Networking at Carnegie Mellon University, addresses these problems in his work.


Carnegie Mellon awards science prize
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 12
Carnegie Mellon University awarded its 2007 Dickson Prize in Science to a California professor who pioneered the technique used to produce today's computer chips and is now working on novel ways to deliver chemotherapy and other biological substances to targets in the body. Jean M.J. Frechet, who holds the Henry Rapoport Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, will deliver a free public lecture titled "Polymer Science: From Plastic Electronics to Therapeutics," at 4:30 p.m. on March 19 in the Mellon Institute Auditorium in Oakland.


Training grant will benefit region's brownfields
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 7
Southwestern Pennsylvania is building a future on old, contaminated industrial sites, and a $197,000 federal job training grant will help support that effort, the head of a Braddock social services agency said Thursday. ... EPA spokeswoman Terri White said this is the region's second grant. The first was $100,000 to Carnegie Mellon University. Deborah Lange, executive director of Carnegie Mellon's Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, said the earlier program had about 30 students, half of whom found jobs.

Regional Impact

Angel investors bearing good news
Pop City Media | March 12
The snow was falling steadily when I spoke with Allan May, a founder of Life Science Angels. It was a beautiful but chilly winter day in Pittsburgh.  Not in California.  “It’s 60 degrees here,” he said, smiling through the phone. Competing with the weather in Menlo Park will never be Pittsburgh’s forte.  But West Coast angel investors, who recently spent time in the city, are forecasting that Pittsburgh will be a hot market for future investors. And that was before Pittsburgh placed #2 in a national ranking for venture capital funding growth (see innovation news story in this week's issue.) Strong research facilities at both Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, high quality entrepreneurs and early-stage companies and, the depth and mindset of the city’s entrepreneurial support system were a few of the many attributes noted.


Obama says he'll work 'as hard as we can' in Pa.
Philadelphia Daily News | March 12
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama freely admits that he's an underdog in the Pennsylvania presidential primary. "Senator Clinton is favored to win in a blowout," Obama said yesterday after an appearance at a wind-energy company in Bucks County. But the Illinois senator - who is locked in a tight battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination - says he'll do everything he can to fight back over the next six weeks. ... Political analyst Jon Delano, of Carnegie Mellon University, said that campaigning on jobs and the economy is key in Pennsylvania. "The candidate who focuses on the economy and jobs the best, is going to have an advantage," he said. But Delano questioned Obama's decision to make his first stop in the Philadelphia region.


Building Innovation
TEQ Magazine | March Issue
The eye-catching and intriguing edifice that is Carnegie Mellon University's Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC) makes it a hard building to miss when strolling down Forbes Avenue towards the university's campus - transparent glass and terra cotta brick dominate the four-story structure that appears to hang suspended over Junction Hollow. ... "The world has noticed that we have Intel, Apple and Google all in the same building," Dr. Jared Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon said. "Those are important names that have a lot of cachet." Cohon asserted that the CIC is an essential facet of the university's overall economic development vision for the region and said it will serve to attract and retain top talent to the region.


Center gives area colleges high marks
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 13
The University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Carnegie Mellon University again received high marks in an annual study of major research universities for 2007. ... Among leading private research universities, Carnegie Mellon finished in the Top 25 in five standards.


Gas companies work to update aging system
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | March 7
Natural gas lines that crisscross Western Pennsylvania largely are steel pipes built to last five or six decades, and they should be replaced soon with more durable plastic lines, utility experts say. But many Americans apparently believe that "once you put something down, it lasts forever," Lester Lave of Carnegie Mellon University's Electric Industry Center said Thursday. "We don't appropriate any money to fix the infrastructure, as you can see from bridges and highways," Lave said.


It's GeoLife, Jim, but not as we know it
The Guardian | March 13
If you'd spent a day seeing the sights in Beijing, it would be nice to be able to review your trip afterwards by watching an avatar trace your route on a map - with popup photos, if you took any. ... This sort of "life experience tracing" is not something you can do in Beijing today, unless you know Yu Zeng and his colleagues in Microsoft Research's Beijing lab, where GeoLife is just one of many projects. It was also one of about 40 shown to the world's press on the first day of TechFest 08 in Redmond last week. ... Microsoft Research is run like the world's biggest university computer science department, according to Rick Rashid, the man in charge. In fact, it's modeled on "Carnegie Mellon's computer science department in the 1980s, because that's what I knew", he says. Its focus is on publishing world-class research papers, and Rashid keeps score by counting how many Microsoft papers are delivered at major conferences such as Siggraph.


Magnetic device lets one 'feel' 3D computer objects
EE Times Asia | March 10
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a device that could allow people to feel textures and shapes of 3D designs created on computers—without awkward mechanical gear. The university announced that it could soon be possible to feel objects created on computers through a touch-based, or haptic, interface, without using gloves, similar equipment or force feedback. One lightweight moving part floats on magnetic fields and simulates various sensations people experience when they touch real objects.


Interested in animation?
Gulf News | March 9
Those who want to develop a career in animation films — a genre that is becoming more and more popular every year — can enroll in a Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) at the Carnegie Mellon University's (Carnegie Mellon) Heinz School in Adelaide, South Australia. ... The MET is an intense and intensive two-year program with a major focus on the design and delivery of small group projects requiring an in depth application of advanced computing, engineering, programming, artistic and organizational skills within an entertainment technology context.