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News Clips - June 4, 2010

From May 27 to June 3, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 943 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Obama urges expansion of agenda
USA Today | June 2
President Obama called Tuesday for sticking with his domestic agenda "even if it's not always popular" and portrayed congressional Republicans as obstructionists who favor "more tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for corporations." Obama sounded at times as if he were kicking off this fall's campaign for control of Congress during his speech before 350 academic and business leaders at the Carnegie Mellon University campus. […] Carnegie Mellon is a high-tech pioneer in a city that's in the process of a transition from steelmaking to a service economy. Obama highlighted a bright spot: The city's tallest skyscraper, built as the corporate headquarters ofU.S. Steel, bears the logo of a major regional health care provider, a sign of the changes in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, where 32% of workers were employed in manufacturing in 1970, compared with 8% today.


Remarks: Obama at Carnegie Mellon University June 2, 2010
TIME/The Page Blog | June 2
Good afternoon. It's great to be back at Carnegie Mellon, and in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh. I love visiting a good sports town. Last year, I stole Dan Rooney to serve as my ambassador to Ireland. But to make it up to you, I invited both the Steelers and the Penguins to the White House to celebrate their championships. And seeing as how the Blackhawks are headed to Philly tonight with a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, let's just say I'm glad to be on this side of the state today. Of course, we meet here at an incredibly difficult time for America – among other things, it's a time when the worst environmental disaster of its kind in our nation's history is threatening the Gulf Coast and the people who live there. Right now, stopping this oil spill and containing its damage must be the top priority of my Administration, and we are waging this battle every minute of every day.


Fruitfly larvae smell the light | June 1
Researchers in Germany have genetically modified fruitfly larvae so that they can smell light. The team, led by Klemens Störtkuhl of Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, managed to change the larvae's odour receptors so that they respond to blue light instead of smells1. The researchers hope that the move will allow them to unravel the way in which the larvae detect and interpret smells. Fruitfly larvae normally shy away from light, but will move towards favourable smells, such as those of food, or flee unpleasant odours. Trying to work out which receptors are responding to which odour, though, is difficult. "Multiple odorant receptors may be activated by one odour, a single odorant receptor may be sensitive to multiple odours," says biologist Elaine Fishilevich of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the work. "And then there is the timing of activation."


International-relations professor to advise on Bush Oral-History Project
The Chronicle of Higher Education | May 30
When Kiron K. Skinner isn't explaining history and public policy on television and radio shows, she is likely to be busy running the international-relations program at Carnegie Mellon University. Or she may be serving on think-tank or policy-advisory panels or traveling to California for her work as a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Now she has another project to squeeze in, one that could affect how future generations will understand the troubled opening years of this century in America: She has been chosen to serve on the advisory board for the George W. Bush Oral History Project, to be conducted by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. The center has done similar projects on each president since Jimmy Carter.

Education for Leadership

European micro robots win at IEEE games | May 28
Swiss and French microrobots walked away with gold at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Alaska this week. In the Mobile Microrobotics Challenge, six teams from Canada, Europe and the United States pitted sub-mm machines against each other in three tests: a 2mm dash; an assembly task inserting pegs into designated holes; and a freestyle competition. In the 2mm dash, themicrobot from Carnegie Mellon University broke the world record held by Switzerland's ETH Zurich (set at an earlier nanosoccer competition) with an average time of 78ms.

Arts and Humanities

Conflict Kitchen Project serves the food of adversary nations to bring people together
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | June 3
It's a take-out window for a $5 sandwich, but, like baseball and "The Wizard of Oz," Conflict Kitchen offers consumers an experience more intricate than what's on the surface. […] Conflict Kitchen shares prep space and staff with Waffle Shop, which opened two years ago as a two-semester art project for a class at Carnegie Mellon University, where Mr. Jon Rubin teaches art. His "storefront project" involves students in creating a real-life place for community to gather and share ideas. Waffle Shop: A Reality Show, which continues to operate with a staff mostly of students on work-study, live-streams video from the restaurant on its website,


Clinical trials and the common good | June 1
It’s a drama that plays out again and again wherever cutting-edge science meets mortal disease. First, researchers test a therapy that works miracles in animals. Expectant patients flock to those researchers. But then regulatory authorities and ethics committees prevent the researchers from offering the new therapy because of concerns about safety or the science behind the animal study. […] Jonathan Kimmelman is Associate Professor, Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies and Medicine at McGill University. Alex John London is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics and Political Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Information Technology

Carnegie Mellon researcher: Human factor is big in cybersecurity
The New New Internet | June 1
Cybersecurity is moving away from being merely an IT solution to include the human factor in cybersecurity as humans can make or break a good security system. Social engineering attacks that convince users to click on links that download malware to computers are an easier method of gaining access to a network than more traditional hacking methods. Research is currently being conducted at Carnegie Mellon University that is focusing on the human aspect of cybersecurity, with researchers attempting to build in aspects of human behavior to enhance cybersecurity. For cybersecurity to work effectively, each individual within an organization must be on-board, according to the researchers. “The human factor is big,” Lorrie Cranor, associate professor of computer science and engineering and public policy at CMU and part of the CyLab program at the university, said. “We all break the rules. We need to understand the humans, understand human decision-making.


New technology to create strong nanofabrics | June 3
These bioengineers have developed a new technology that can be used to regenerate heart and other tissues and to make nanometer-thick fabrics that are both strong and extremely elastic. The key breakthrough came in the development of a matrix that can assemble itself through interaction with a thermosensitive surface. The protein composition of that matrix can be customized to generate specific properties, and the nanofabric can then be lifted off as a sheet by altering temperature. "To date it has been very difficult to replicate this extracellular matrix using manmade materials," said Adam W. Feinberg, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University who will be an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall. "But we thought if cells can build this matrix at the surface of their membranes, maybe we can build it ourselves on a surface too. We were thrilled to see that we could."


Local colleges, universities incorporating wind energy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | June 3
Across the region, more and more colleges and universities are showing their commitment to going green by using wind energy. […] While the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection does not keep track of the number of colleges and universities purchasing wind energy, Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University are among other schools in the region using wind energy. At CMU, 75 percent of electricity comes from wind energy, said Martin Altschul, university engineer, and at Chatham 12 percent to 15 percent of electricity comes from wind energy, said Mary Whitney, university sustainability coordinator.


What's the impact of the Marcellus Shale on our environment?
Pop City | June 2
Pittsburgh is at the center of another energy revolution. The drilling of the Marcellus Shale promises jobs in areas hard hit by unemployment, lucrative leases for landowners and a new energy economy. The potential is staggering. As one industry executive put it, Pennsylvania is to natural gas what Saudi Arabia is to oil. The Marcellus will be bigger to PA than the blast furnace, says another. […] Terry Collins, Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry and head of theInstitute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon, is a pioneer in the research of green chemistry. Technologies that remove toxins from the water, one of his biggest concerns, are the focus of his lifelong research. "Endocrine disruptors work their disruptions at ultra low concentrations," he explains. "It's inconceivable that the chemicals will not find their way into people's wells and drinking water. I'm troubled that this industry has a federal pass on all these processes that have an effect on our water.

Regional Impact

Website helps connect bored kids with hands-on summer activities
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 3
An 8-year-old might enjoy a treasure hunter's week that uses map-reading and riddles to find hidden trails and prizes. A teenager could learn how to design unique fashions or perfect a jump shot. A soon-to-be-kindergartner's eyes might light up at the thought of traipsing across a stage. Those are among the dozens of local summer camps and programs cataloged in a new online database ( designed to counter kids' annual summer complaint of "there's nothing to do." […] For nine years Carnegie Mellon has been among 60 locations for "iD Tech Camps" for ages 7-17. "The whole premise behind this program is to engage kids in technology by giving them hands-on projects," iD Tech's Karen Thurm Safran said. Activities include devising video games, building websites or working with robots and 3-D animations. Other CMU camps include "Summer String Workshops" for young musicians and, since 1992, "C-Mites" for gifted students, university spokeswoman Teresa Thomas said.


World Environment Day conference convenes in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | June 3
Late last year, not long after the United Nations named Pittsburgh as the North American host city for its 2010 World Environment Day, a group of local industry and foundation officials spearheaded by the nonprofit Sustainable Pittsburgh, brainstormed and decided on water as the theme for events that would mark the global celebration here. […] A water theme for World Environment Day helps boost its relevance to Pittsburgh, said David Dzombak, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and faculty director of the school's Steinbrenner Institute for Environment Education and Research, which is a conference sponsor. The Pittsburgh economy has relied on water for centuries, and in recent decades, it's been a more integral part of redevelopment as civic leaders consider ways to utilize the riverfronts, he said.


President Obama speaks about economy at CMU
KDKA-TV News | June 2
President Barack Obama returned to Pittsburgh today and delivered a speech about the economy at Carnegie Mellon University. During the speech he talked about how the country needs to move forward in order to come out of the recession. "America does not stand still. We move forward. That is why I've said that as we emerge from this recession, we cannot return to the pre-crisis status quo. We cannot go back to an economy that was too dependent on bubbles and debt and financial speculation. We cannot accept economic growth that leaves the middle-class owing more and making less. We must build a new, stronger foundation for growth and prosperity – and that's exactly what we've been doing for the last 16 months," President Obama said.


Newsmaker: Abigail Rosen Holmes
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | June 2
Associate professor of lighting design at Carnegie Mellon University. Family: Husband, Thomas; Whitman, their chocolate Lab. Background: Holmes' career in lighting design encompasses concert touring, television, special events, circuses and architecture. She is a partner at NyxDesign LLC and has created concert tour designs for musicians such as Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Martina McBride, Bonnie Raitt, Janet Jackson and Amy Grant. Noteworthy: She was listed among the top 50 most powerful people in entertainment technology by Live Design Magazine.


Gulf oil slick nears Florida coast
Aljazeera | June 3
The slick from the massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico is closing in on the Florida coast, US officials say, as engineers from BP face problems in their latest efforts to plug the leak. […] In a speech on Wednesday, Barack Obama said the Gulf oil spill had highlighted the risks associated with oil drilling and called on the US to break its dependence on fossil fuels. "An America run solely on fossil fuels should not be the vision we have for our children and grandchildren," he said at Pennsylvania's Carnegie Mellon University.


Qatar: Business plan on mobile phone apps wins contest | June 2
A business plan on easy-to-use mobile phone applications for the Arab world upstaged 21 others at the recently concluded Business Plan Competition at the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ). "We are grateful to Carnegie Mellon for organising such a competition," said Youssef Francis, a CMUQ student who is part of the Doon Enterprises team, winners of the contest. Doon's other team members were Edmond Abi-Saleh and Ossama Obeid, who are also CMUQ students. "It is a rare opportunity. Not every university sponsors such a chance for students to pitch business ideas with the possibility to bring them to fruition," said Francis.


Self-driven cars come closer to reality
ANI/One India | June 1
Advancing towards cars that drive on their own, Volvo Car Corp. has tested its new S60 model, which has the first in-car system that can sense an imminent collision with pedestrians and brake automatically if the driver doesn't. […] What fully autonomous vehicles might be like is hinted at by an experimental car built by a GM-backed team of engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Their 'Boss' car earned a 2 million dollar prize in 2007 by outperforming 10 other autonomous vehicles in a simulated urban environment.


Helping hands
The Economist – Technology Blog | May 27
In his poignant tale of human empathy and compassion (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”), the late science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick explored the defining characteristics that distinguish human beings from sentient machines. […] Even forecasts published over the past decade have proved wildly optimistic. No less an authority than Hans Moravec, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, expected all-purpose robots to be widely available by 2010. Ray Kurzweil, a respected computer scientist, serial inventor and futurist, predicted that some 55m robots would be in circulation by 2010. Toyota confidently expected it would be selling robots to families and the elderly by 2010. All predictions made over the past decade about the use of personal robots have fallen well short.