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News Clips - May 14, 2010

From May 7 to May 13, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 468 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Middle East woos U.S. colleges | May 12
American exports are famously under attack from cheaper competitors except for one industry: higher education. U.S schools have set up satellite campuses abroad — especially in places like the Middle East and Asia — as a way to boost their reputations as international players. [...]  Carnegie Mellon has 11 overseas campuses in addition to its main campus in Pittsburgh, and most of these outposts are targeted mainly at graduates. Its Qatar campus, which opened in 2004, is the school's only overseas campus that grants undergraduate degrees. The campus looks like it should house works of art rather than students: The main building features a dramatic amphitheater with traditional Qatari seating on the floor, a cool fountain and lots of soft reflected light. But it's the American degree that students come here for. "We're not like Carnegie Mellon, or inspired by Carnegie Mellon, we ARE Carnegie Mellon," says CMU Qatar Dean Chuck Thorpe.


Twitter: A stand-in for opinion polls? | May 12
The next time you're low on cash and need to get a quick read on the public's feeling on politics or current events, consider sampling Twitter. According to a new report out of Carnegie Mellon University's computer science department, sentiments expressed via the millions of daily tweets strongly correlate with well-established public opinion polls, such as the Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) and Gallup polls. [...] Assistant professor Noah Smith and his team collected 1 billion Twitter messages posted in 2008 and 2009 and analyzed them for topic (politics versus economy) and sentiment (positive or negative). They compared the consumer confidence tweets against ICS data from the same period as well as Gallup's Economic Confidence Index.


Solving a musical catch-22
The Wall Street Journal | May 10
Whitney Gardner, fresh out of college with a degree in piano performance in 2005, was caught in an all-too-familiar bind for musicians who flock to New York City. The Carnegie Mellon University graduate could teach full time, but that would cut into her ability to perform. And performing would make it impossible to teach. Out of that musical Catch-22 was born In the Pocket NYC, a nonprofit consortium of musicians that helps performers teach and teachers perform. "We think it's a benefit for a student to study from a performing musician," Ms. Gardner, 29 years old, says.


Post Patriot Act pathogen research: Less bang per buck
Scientific American | May 11
The Patriot Act and the Bioterrorism Preparedness Act were passed in 2001 and 2002. These laws in part cover research on pathogens and toxins thought to have potential as bioweapons. The Bush administration increased funding for research on such toxins and pathogens—but the laws added a great many procedural steps for such research, and restricted who could work with the microbes. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon recently evaluated the impact of the laws on research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Education for Leadership

Wireless waterways pursued
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 13
Carnegie Mellon University students have devised a high-tech communication system for towboats to share their location with lockmasters and prevent traffic jams at narrow locks -- now officials need money to build it. The Port of Pittsburgh Commission is seeking private investors to build a demonstration of the "wireless waterways" system that could connect shippers, towboats, the Army Corps of Engineers and others with a system of powerful receivers and transmitters along the river.


Young inventors at CMU
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 12
Strat and Vani Rajan were part of a team demonstrating the OrthAssist, a mechanical exoskeleton that augments the wearer's strength, during a final presentation for biomedical engineering students in James F. Antaki's class at Carnegie Mellon University last week. A team of six students designed the device, which can lift up to 8 pounds, to help people with neuromuscular disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. Other students in Mr. Antaki's class showed their designs for medical products and tools, including a glove that translates sign language to voice, and a personalized pill access control and monitoring system.


Newsmaker: Moira Burke
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 9
Occupation: Doctoral student in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science's Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Burke plans to earn a doctorate next year. Education: Bachelor of arts in computer and information science, University of Oregon, 2001. Background: Before entering the doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon, Burke was the technology coordinator for the Portland Community College Library in Oregon. She worked there from 2001 to 2005. In Pittsburgh, Burke tutors elementary and middle-school students. Notable: Burke won two major awards for social-computing research. She received a Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. She will receive $10,000 for the 2010-11 academic year. Burke also won a Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges award, which provides $5,000 in research seed funding. The fellowships include networking retreats with industry scientists and leaders.

Arts and Humanities

Historian to discuss book on 'Miracle at Oakmont'
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 10
Carnegie Mellon University historian Steven Schlossman will discuss his new book, "Chasing Greatness: Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer and the Miracle at Oakmont," co-authored by Adam Lazarus (New American Library, $24.95), in two appearances here this week: Tuesday -- Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 510 S. 27th St., South Side, at 7 p.m. Saturday -- Borders Books and Music, 1775 N. Highland Road, Bethel Park, at 3 p.m.


Study challenges key autism theory
Discovery Health | May 12
A new study counters an influential theory that people with autism have trouble communicating with others because of problems in something called the mirror neuron system, which is crucial to human communication skills. The mirror neuron system, which encompasses two areas of the brain, activates when you do something -- like move an arm -- or when you watch someone else do something. This system appears to play a role in how you figure out what's going on around you and determine other people's motivations. [...] The study appears online May 12 in the journal Neuron. The researchers are from Carnegie Mellon University, New York University and the University of Pittsburgh.


Local teens create and learn through hip hop at CMU's Arts Greenhouse
Pittsburgh City Paper | May 13
Amos Levy once asked a local student about his high school's music program. "I go to Peabody," the student told Levy. "We don't got nothing. I guess if you consider banging on the tables in the lunch room a music program -- that's about what we've got." That's precisely why Levy, along with a handful of Carnegie Mellon faculty members and local hip-hop artists and producers, maintains the Arts Greenhouse, an after-school hip-hop education program that helps low-income and minority teens pursue their artistic visions. At the Arts Greenhouse, founded in 2003 by CMU professors Riccardo Schulz and Judith Schachter, teens can create their own beats using recording and production facilities at CMU's School of Music.

Information Technology

Computer vision sees better by focusing on the small things
Yahoo! News | May 10
Researchers are taking an innovative approach to an object recognition system for computers that starts small and builds up rather than struggling to grasp what the most important parts of an object are. This "bottom-up" method should make object recognition systems much easier to build while enabling them to use computer memory more efficiently. [...] Although the researchers' work promises more efficient use of computer memory and programmers' time, "it is far more important than just a better way to do object recognition," said Tai Sing Lee, an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who was not involved in the research. "This work is important partly because I feel it speaks to a couple scientific mysteries in the brain."


LEED for commercial interiors can result in productivity gains, energy savings | May 10
Green buildings have long been called high-performance buildings in Europe and in segments of the U.S. facilities market. The idea is that, while environmental responsibility is noble, sustainable design also should support better human comfort and business results. Experience — and related research — bears out this thinking. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, for example, is widely seen as a way to improve a building’s environmental profile and energy use. Yet research indicates that it improves workplace effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). [...] Fortunately, facility managers and owners now have lots of research to back up performance claims. End-user studies and industry research by groups like Carnegie Mellon University and the Heschong-Mahone Group have shown evidence of direct improvements in productivity among workers resulting from improved lighting, view, ventilation, and air-temperature conditions, which are central tenets of green building. These and other results bear out the connection between LEED and improved personnel and organizational results.

Regional Impact

Urban vehicle test-track idea derails
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 13
A proposal to build an urban vehicle test track on a 178-acre site in Hazelwood by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA has been scuttled, at least for now. Because technology has changed along with its needs, Bombardier has decided to forgo construction and allow Carnegie Mellon University to take the lead on the project, said Maryanne Roberts, spokeswoman for Bombardier, which has two plants in West Mifflin. "The entire project has been redefined. CMU will be able to explore and test the technology of the smart infrastructure required in the transportation guideways in its laboratories," she said.


How Pittsburgh pulled itself out of the pit
Lexington Herald-Leader | May 11
It wasn't too long ago that this Pennsylvania city at the confluence of three rivers was known for steel, ketchup, dirty water and even dirtier air. A lot has changed, as 200 business and civic leaders from Lexington and 100 from Louisville discovered Monday when they arrived for a three-day visit organized by Commerce Lexington and Greater Louisville Inc. [...] One key factor was long-term investment in higher education, especially the region's major research universities: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Thanks largely to that research, the region now has 1,600 technology companies and advanced manufacturing plants. Research universities could do much more to boost Kentucky's economy if they were properly funded, rather than facing constant budget cuts, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. and University of Louisville President James Ramsey said during an afternoon panel discussion.


PA higher education goes global | May 13
"We are living in an increasingly interconnected world," says Carnegie Mellon University Office of International Education Director Linda Gentile. “We are in Western Pennsylvania. If we only attracted students from Western Pennsylvania, it would hamper our students’ ability to grow and expand outside what is normal for them. That variety helps everyone, both the international students and the local students, learn and grow from each other.” Enticing international students can be challenging, sending recruiters to the ends of the Earth, creating a network of educators and creating name recognition in other parts of the world. Through his work with AIRC, DeCrosta’s office began recruiting in rural areas not often utilized by traditional college recruiters.  They targeted an Indian suburb densely populated with upscale private schools, whose students were well educated, came from financially stable families and, through widespread internet access, were exposed to and interested in the American market.


Mammoth effort: Replicating ancient blood leads to modern insights
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 13
Woolly mammoths haven't been around for thousands of years, though well-preserved remains continue to turn up in the Arctic and in fields of Siberian permafrost. The long-tusked relatives of the modern elephant continue to excite our collective imaginations because -- unlike dinosaurs -- our paths crossed in the not-so-distant past. As the Ice Age wiped out the vegetation that mammoths used for food, early humans may have hunted the 11-foot-tall, 6-to-8-ton creature to extinction, according to one widely held theory. The idea of cloning woolly mammoths has been a staple of science fiction for decades. Still, scientists -- including Chien Ho, a professor of biological science at Carnegie Mellon University -- are more interested in how the once-tropical creatures coped with the Ice Age cold than in creating a new mammoth from DNA.


Quake, rattle and roll? Not in Western Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 9
Mike Cadman was sitting at his kitchen table writing checks when his house began to tremble. "Things just started falling off my shelves and on to the floor. It went on for a good 25 to 30 seconds," the Mercer County resident recalled of the most powerful recorded earthquake in Pennsylvania. [...] The chances are so remote that Dr. Jacobo Bielak, a world-renowned professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, declined to hypothesize about the damage a magnitude-6, -7 or -8 earthquake here could cause. "The chance is negligible," said Bielak, who specializes in urban seismology. "Why alarm anyone when there is so little risk?"


Lesson from Greece: Don't spend more than you make
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | May 9
Greece's problems with money shouldn't seem so foreign. Anyone with a checking account knows you can't buy more than you spend -- at least not indefinitely, anyway. [...] Some experts believe the United States could default in the distant future -- if there's no end to systemic deficit spending. The federal deficit hit an all-time high of $1.4 trillion this year. "Governments have assumed the credit risk of the private sector," said Marvin Goodfriend, economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. "In that sense, the United States should recognize that the problems Greece is facing, and Europe more generally, could become problems in the United States."


CMU appoints new Australian executive director
Campus Review | May 10
Carnegie Mellon University has appointed Terry F. Buss as the new executive director of the H John Heinz III College in Adelaide. Previously, Buss was the distinguished professor of public policy at the school. Before joining Heinz College two years ago, he directed the international, security and defence studies program at the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, DC, for five years.


CMU teams for internship in Bangladesh
Gulf Times | May 10
Teams from Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Pittsburgh and Qatar campuses will undertake a unique internship programme this summer in Bangladesh to research and develop two projects. The innovative Student Technology ExPerience (iSTEP) provides students with the opportunity to apply skills learnt in the classroom to benefit under-served communities around the world. The creation and evaluation of culturally-relevant educational technology tools and games to enhance English literacy, and a low-cost Braille writing tutor for visually-impaired students are among the projects.


Toyota may commence retail sales of its first $50,000 fuel-cell car by 2015 | May 9
According to a Bloomberg report, Yoshihiko Masuda, managing director of advanced vehicles at Toyota Motor Corp., has confirmed that the automaker has reduced the cost of manufacturing fuel-cell vehicles by 90 percent, and may likely commence the sales of its first retail hydrogen vehicle by 2015. [...] Commenting on the potential advantage that fuel-cell vehicles have over battery vehicles, Jay Whitacre, a professor of materials science and engineering at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, said that the former beat the latter in terms of "cost basis per car, range and performance."