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News Clips - July 9, 2010

From July 2 to July 8, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 621 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Heat wave puts pressure on power grid
Marketplace Public Radio Blog | July 6
Marijia Ilich studies power grids at Carnegie Mellon University. She says there's a lot of talk about upgrading equipment. But what we really need to do is upgrade other things, like computer programs and communications that make it all work.


Planning ahead to avoid mobile traffic jams
CNN/American Public Media | July 1
Yesterday on the Future Tense podcast, professor Marvin Sirbu of Carnegie Mellon University explained that all of the radio spectrum in question is currently allocated to other users: broadcasters, maritime communications, military radar, etc. "In many cases," said Sirbu, "Those assignees are not using their spectrum very intensively." In that same podcast, Darrell M. West, founder of the Brookings Center for Technology and Innovation, noted: "Some companies want to sit on their spectrum allotments in the hope that they can do something with it in the future."


Water droplets create multilayered display
New Scientist | July 1
Peter Barnum, Srinivasa Narasimhan and Takeo Kanade at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have projected images onto a series of water screens, one behind the other, to give depth to the image. Each screen is formed by water droplets falling from 50 stainless-steel needles. The needles release their droplets in unison, with 60 such lines created every second. A camera tracks their position and feeds the information to a projector, which illuminates them with pulses of light. The human eye integrates the information from several pulses to create the illusion of images moving on a floating screen.

Education for Leadership

BankSimple's founders pitch an online bank with no branches and no fees
Los Angeles Times | July 7
Reich and Karkal, who met at Carnegie Mellon's business school, come at the job with some unusually rich credentials for a pair of 31-year-olds. Karkal, who grew up in India, was a bank consultant with McKinsey & Co. Reich, an Australian, went to medical school before working at a New York hedge fund and an online start-up that helped match mortgage lenders and borrowers. The founder of that mortgage site, Jerry Neumann, was one of the angel investors who put a total of $140,000 in BankSimple, an investment he decided to make because of what he saw in Reich.

Arts and Humanities

Poet Terrances Hayes shines in his new collection, Lighthead
Pittsburgh City Paper | July 8
In the ad for New York City's famed 92nd Street Y reading series in the May Harper's Magazine, the photo of Terrance Hayes sits right between those of John Irving and Salman Rushdie. If Hayes isn't quite as famous as those guys, the distinction still reflects growing recognition for the Pittsburgh-based poet who's just published his fourth collection. With Lighthead, the Carnegie Mellon professor lives up to such billing. Like 2006's Wind in a Box -- only moreso -- Lighthead is both wildly eclectic and wonderfully inventive. Hayes remains as probing and evocative on topics like race and militarism as he is bogglingly playful in turning language into sheer music.


Creating Dungeons & Dragons for Microsoft Surface | July 7
A team of Carnegie Mellon University students made waves when they released videos of their interactive Dungeons & Dragons interface using Microsoft Surface.  Combining the Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 ruleset with an advanced multi-touch screen, the project -- dubbed SurfaceScapes -- marries traditional tabletop roleplaying with modern technology, aiming to preserve the game's live social experience while streamlining the numerous manual steps and calculations involved.

Information Technology

Safety in numbers | July 17
“The area has exploded, in terms of the types of techniques and technologies,” says computer scientist Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “There are huge, rapid advances in this area with, of course, some very interesting challenges.” Some researchers, including Carley, are formulating powerful new algorithms that comb through mountains of data and uncover hidden “rules” that govern terrorism behavior. Each tiny electronic crumb — from among billions of cell phone calls, web-browsing records, e-mail messages, credit card receipts and airline manifests — could serve as a microclue to help create a complete picture of a terrorist’s life.


New tech to keep tab on diseases
Times of India | July 8
Information was then sent to a central database, which analysed the data through the T-Cube Web Interface (TCWI) software and mapped the disease occurrence, number of people affected and location. "The software pops up an alert window that can tell us when the disease cropped up, on which date the numbers peaked, and when it was subdued," said professor Artur Dubrawski, who directs the Auton Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, which developed the TCWI.  The data is then disseminated to the relevant authorities through the Sahana Messaging and Alerting Module. The project was guided by Dr K Vijay Raghavan, director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences.


Linking green buildings, productivity and the bottom line | July 8
In a five-year company case study, Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University measured a 3.2 percent productivity gain, or $1,600 per employee per year, on lighting improvements alone. So how does 1 percent to 3 percent productivity gain impact the bottom line? The literature suggests multiplying annual payrolls times these increases. In such a case, the annual savings are substantial. Indeed, the 2003 California report found average annual employee costs to be 10.25 times larger than the cost of space per employee. The author extrapolates these findings to calculate that a 1 percent productivity increase would therefore have a financial impact over time roughly equal to reducing property costs by 10 percent.

Regional Impact

Concentrate on riverfront, Verona sustainability study suggests
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 7
In the spring, students from Carnegie Mellon University performed a sustainability needs assessment for Verona. The purpose was to define what needs to be done to make the community more sustainable for the future and how to do it. Matthew Mehalik teaches the sustainable community development course at the H. John Heinz III College School of Public Policy and Management, where students were enrolled. He also is a program director for Sustainable Pittsburgh, which promotes maintainability through the integration of economic prosperity, social equity and environmental quality. He said that over the past few years, there has been substantial interest in redeveloping small towns and a renewed interest in smart growth.


We can learn a lot from Pittsburgh | July 3
Don Smith Jr., president of Regional Industrial Development Corp., talked about how the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University attract more than $1 billion a year in research dollars to spawn spinoff companies. The region positions itself as a national energy center. It is home to plentiful coal and natural gas, the country's only domestic manufacturer of nuclear technology and companies involved in solar and wind projects.


How CMU class led to Oakmont book
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 7
Carnegie Mellon University history professor Steve Schlossman initiated the course in 2005 "as a way to force my own hand to get back into the game. Can't say it's worked yet," he joked. One of his students, Adam Lazarus, became a freelance sportswriter and the pair decided to team up to write about Mr. Miller and the '73 Open "because it's the single greatest championship round and it justifies an in-depth examination," the CMU historian said.


Heat wave is unrelenting
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
That they don't test Pittsburgh's overall supply is a perverse benefit of the region's biggest economic disaster: the disappearance of its steel industry. Mills used massive amounts of power to the point that, after the deindustrialization 25 years ago, Duquesne Light had 50 percent more power generating capacity than it has today, said Lester Lave, a professor of economics and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and an authority on the power supply grid. That gap has closed somewhat almost a generation later, but the region still sits with a sufficient oversupply that a backup generating station on Brunot's Island has only been fired up twice in recent memory.


In wake of disaster, group hopes advancements will improve mine safety
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 7
J. Brett Harvey, president and CEO of Consol Energy, likened the efforts to a police force adding patrolmen in a traffic area with a high count of accidents, rather than assessing the area for risk and seeking technological solutions. Mr. Harvey was one of four panelists Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Technology Council's event at Carnegie Mellon University. Phil Smith, communications director of the United Mine Workers of America, was not at the panel discussion, but said the new legislation will most definitely help to improve safety. It will cost the mining companies money, which they may not be happy about, he said, but compared to how much they spend producing coal, it's a small price to pay.


An open mind: Welcome to virtual class
Deccan Herald | July 7
The backers of free courseware acknowledge the benefit of self-enrichment. Still, they say they expect open education not only to expand access to information but also to lead to success in higher education, particularly among low-income students and those who are first in their family to go to college.  Joel Smith, Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer at Carnegie Mellon, sums up the challenge: “Free lectures and open syllabi and reading lists are great if the goal is enrichment for people who are already successful in formal higher education. But if the goal is to truly give access to high-quality postsecondary education to most people, well, for that you need to do a lot more."
Deccan Herald