News Briefs-Faculty & Staff News - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, November 21, 2013

News Briefs

CMU-Alert Test Friday

A test of the university’s Emergency Notification Service, CMU-Alert, will be conducted at 4:30 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 22. All members of the Carnegie Mellon community are encouraged to register for the CMU-Alert service, which sends voice and/or text messages to registered phones in the event of a campus emergency. These messages provide brief details about the nature of the emergency and will always direct you to more information, instructions, and timely updates at www.cmu.edu/alert.

You can register for the CMU-Alert service online on this same site, www.cmu.edu/alert.  Click on the “register for CMU-Alert” link in the grey box on the top right.  You will need to login with your username and password to access the registration page.

Your contact information will be treated confidentially. You will be contacted by the CMU-Alert system only if there is an incident/event that threatens public safety or during tests of the system in the spring and fall semesters. Note that the text and voice options may carry a nominal fee for recipients, depending on your cellphone carrier and cellphone plan. The recipient is responsible for these fees.

Alert information will also be posted in a special area at the top of www.cmu.edu directing users to more information at www.cmu.edu/alert.

Major Power Shutdown Sunday

Facilities Management Services, Campus Design and Facilities Development are planning a major power shutdown to repair damage to the 4160V power distribution that occurred at the Scott Hall construction site last Friday causing the power outage. An eight-hour shutdown is needed for Roberts Hall, Scaife Hall, Hamerschlag Hall, Purnell Center, Doherty Hall, Gates Hillman Center, the FMS Building, Hamburg Hall, Smith Hall and Newel-Simon Hall.

All shutdowns are planned to happen from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. Heating and chilled water systems will start shutting down at 5 a.m. Occupants should shut off all non-essential equipment when leaving campus for the weekend.

There will be a meeting regarding the shutdown at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 22 in Warner Hall's Carnegie Conference Room West. Staff from Facilities Management Services and Campus Design and Facilities Development will attend to answer questions and concerns. Contact Kyle Tomer at kt2n@andrew.cmu.edu or 412-268-6332 with questions and/or concerns.

Review Your Employee Payroll Data

Payroll Services is beginning a year-end review of employee payroll data and is asking CMU employees to validate all personal and tax information on pay stubs no later than Dec. 13, 2013. Particularly, you will want to review your address and social security number. The accuracy of this information is critical to ensure correct information on your 2013 W2 form. Incorrect information will result in a corrected W2, and may require you to file an amended return if you have already prepared and filed your 2013 taxes.

To review and update your personal information:

  • Log into HRConnection
  • Select Demographics on the left hand navigation
  • Click Next to continue
  • On the Demographics Information screen, validate your “mailing address” – this is where your W-2 will be mailed
  • Should you find any of the information to be incorrect, please make the necessary address corrections in the HRConnection screens.
  • The system will prompt you to complete a new Local Earned Income Tax Residency Certification Form. The form will identify both your residence location and taxation (PSD) and EIT rate along with the same info for your employment location. This is the basis for how your earned income tax is withheld.

If your Social Security Number is incorrect, please contact your HREM Administrator. Payroll Services thanks you in advance for your efforts in helping us achieve a successful 2013 - W2 season.

CMU Launches New Institute for Strategic Analysis

Carnegie Mellon has launched a new Institute for Strategic Analysis (CMU-ISA) to provide a focal point for the university's ongoing consultations with senior U.S. defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials.

The CMU-ISA will tap expertise from across the university, but with particular emphasis on researchers in computer science, cybersecurity, decision science and international relations. Carnegie Mellon's unique combination of strengths in those areas has proven valuable to senior government officials faced with issues concerning communications, computation, and command and control.

"Carnegie Mellon isn't entering into policy debates, but providing information on the basic science that underlies policy and determines what is possible and what is not," said Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of CMU's Center for International Relations and Politics. "National security officials have become regular visitors to Carnegie Mellon because they appreciate the quality of our researchers and our ability to work across disciplines to solve complex, real-world problems," she added.

Skinner will direct the CMU-ISA, which is a joint effort of the School of Computer Science, the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Engineering. Read more about the new institute.

Hornbostel Biography Airs on WQED-TV Friday

“Henry Hornbostel: In Architecture and Legacy,” a television biography featuring the life and times of Henry Hornbostel, Carnegie Mellon’s original architect, will air at 10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22 on WQED-TV. In 1904, CMU founder Andrew Carnegie selected Hornbostel to design and build what was then called Carnegie Tech — Baker/Porter Halls, Hamerschlag Hall, the College of Fine Arts and Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall. The biography includes interviews with Charles Rosenblum, an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Architecture who helped produce the film, and Architecture Librarian and Archivist Martin Aurand. The film was produced by AmericanArkFilms. Watch the “pitch video” at http://vimeo.com/26680694 and read more at http://www.americanarkfilms.com/. Read the preview in the Post-Gazette.

Inkblots Used To Improve Security of Online Passwords

Carnegie Mellon computer scientists have developed a new password system that incorporates inkblots to provide an extra measure of protection when, as so often occurs, lists of passwords get stolen from websites. This new type of password, dubbed a GOTCHA (Generating panOptic Turing Tests to Tell Computers and Humans Apart), would be suitable for protecting high-value accounts, such as bank accounts, medical records and other sensitive information.

To create a GOTCHA, a user chooses a password and a computer then generates several random, multi-colored inkblots. The user describes each inkblot with a text phrase. These phrases are then stored in a random order along with the password. When the user returns to the site and signs in with the password, the inkblots are displayed again along with the list of descriptive phrases; the user then matches each phrase with the appropriate inkblot. Read more.

Programming Teams Dominate Regional Competition

Five Carnegie Mellon teams ranked among the Top 10 scorers in regional competition for the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest, with one team, CMU1, taking the top spot.

As members of the first-place team, Aram Ebtekar, a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department; Ajay Ravindran, a junior majoring in computer science, and Bo Ma, a master's degree student in the Institute for Software Research, will compete at the ACM-ICPC World Finals June 22-26 in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

CMU2, which includes Ray Y Li, a freshman in the Mellon College of Science; Jason Li, a sophomore computer science major, and Namit Shetty, a master's degree student in computer science, finished in third place, just behind the University of Michigan’s Victors team.

“Traditionally, three teams from our regional advance to the World Finals, but only one team from each school is permitted,” said Danny Sleator, professor of computer science and the head coach of the CMU teams. “That’s a shame for CMU2, which proved to be a very strong team. In fact, all of our teams performed impressively this year.”

The five teams competed Nov. 8-9 at the ACM-ICPC East Central North American Regional Programming Contest in Youngstown, Ohio, one of four sites necessary to accommodate the region’s 114 teams.

CMU3, which finished in 7th place, includes David Wise, a junior who majors in mathematical sciences, and senior Jason Chow and freshman Ananya Kumar, both computer science majors. CMU4, which ranked 9th, includes sophomore Yuting Ge and freshman Jiacheng Ye, both computer science majors, and Yongzuan Wu, a master's degree student in computer science. CMU5, finishing in 10th place, includes sophomore Naomi H. Rubin, senior Susan Wang and junior Kechun Mao, all computer science majors.

Sleator is aided in his coaching duties this year by Yan Gu and Jakub Pachocki, both Ph.D. students in computer science. Jump Trading is the team sponsor.

CMU-Q Students Win Enterprise Challenge

Students from Carnegie Mellon in Qatar took home first place in The Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2013, a business competition organized by Qatar Shell and Bedaya Center. The winning Team "Qatarans" made a net profit of QAR 37 million in the final round of the business simulation.

Participating students Zeeshan Hanif, Raheem Shahid, Saad Asim, Hassan Ijaz and Syed Zuhair were mentored by George White, a distinguished career professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

"We are thrilled to win and are honored to receive this recognition for our university. The Enterprise Challenge helped us realize that there are many opportunities in Qatar for future entrepreneurs, we just need to find them and make the most of them," said Ijaz, a junior business administration major.

The Enterprise Challenge Qatar is a program launched by Qatar Shell and Bedaya Center to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship among young people, promote their business knowledge and equip them with practical business skills.

Toys for Tots Drive Underway

Carnegie Mellon first-year engineering students Trevor Hadick, Wei Mon Lu and Pranjal Bhatia joined the pastry chefs of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association (PAA), who designed a massive gingerbread holiday village, to kick off CMU's ninth annual Toys for Tots drive earlier this week.

The Toys for Tots campaign, sponsored by the College of Engineering's First-Year Advisory Board (FAB) and the Carnegie Mellon Police, encourages the university community and surrounding neighborhoods to donate unwrapped toys to the drive, which ties into the national U.S. Marine Corps program that has been collecting toys for needy children since the early 1950s.

Donations will be accepted through Dec. 9 at collection sites across campus.

Support Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts Through United Way

In response to the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines, United Way Worldwide has set up a fund for disaster relief. Donors can give to the United Way Worldwide/Philippines Typhoon fund, at no fee, using code number 11480944. You can give to this fund through CMU’s United Way campaign at: http://www.cmu.edu/hr/unitedway.

CMU’s United Way campaign will run through Friday, Dec. 13. Since Oct. 9, the CMU community has pledged more than $86,000 toward this year’s campaign. To learn more about the campaign visit http://www.cmu.edu/hr/unitedway.

Alumni Association Board Seeks New Members

The Alumni Association Board (AAB) seeks nominations for its 2014 class. Each year, the board elects five new members to serve four-year terms, beginning July 1. The AAB strives to strike a balance among its members with regard to college affiliation, year of graduation, gender, ethnicity and geographic representation. In addition, the board gives particular weight to the depth and breadth of the nominee’s current and previous volunteer experiences with CMU. To view the AAB Frequently Asked Questions and access the AAB Nomination Form, visit: http://alumni.cmu.edu/s/1410/alumni/index.aspx?sid=1410&gid=1&pgid=375 The nomination deadline is Nov. 30. Questions? Please contact Lynn DeFabio at defabio@cmu.edu.

PSC Receives Four HPCwire Awards

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has received four 2013 HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards. HPCwire is the trade publication for the high performance computing (HPC) community. The PSC has been selected to receive two Readers’ Choice and two Editors’ Choice awards. They are:

Readers’ Choice Awards

  • Best use of HPC in Life Sciences
 for“Blacklight,” a supercomputer that has helped researchers overcome limitations in complex DNA and RNA sequencing tasks, identifying expressed genes in nonhuman primates, petroleum-digesting soil microorganisms and bacterial enzymes that may help convert non-food crops into usable biofuels.
  • Best use of HPC in “Edge” HPC Application for a collaborative project to test ideas for eradicating malaria before trying them in the real world.

Editors’ Choice Awards

  • Best Application of “Big Data” in HPC for “Sherlock,” the PSC’s newest supercomputing resource, that can solve what are known as graph problems: questions concerning complex networks that can’t be understood in isolated pieces. Sherlock is busy shedding light on cancer protein and gene interactions, as well as performing smarter information retrieval in complex documents such as Wikipedia.
  • Best use of HPC in Financial Services
 for early work on the PSC’s Blacklight that enabled researchers to prove that high-volume automated traders were exploiting market reporting rules to make “invisible” trades that manipulated the markets. In October, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ changed their rules to close this loophole.


Read more.

Fall 2013 Quick Facts Online

Institutional Research & Analysis has posted the “Fall 2013 Quick Facts” and the “Student Enrollment” section of the 2013-14 Factbook online at www.cmu.edu/ira. Look in the purple “Frequently Requested Information” box on the right-hand side of the Web page.

University Store To Renew Reading Series

The University Store is renewing its Faculty and Staff Reading Series. If you have recently published a book and would like to give a reading or short talk, please RSVP to Katie Charles-McGrath at katiec@andrew.cmu.edu. Presentations will be scheduled from 5:30 – 7 p.m on the third Tuesday of each month beginning in January and running through April (Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 18 and April 15). Please RSVP by Jan. 2. (Overstock books must be returnable to the publisher without penalty after the event.)

Purchase Discounted Tickets to Kennywood’s Holiday Lights

Staff Council is offering discounted tickets to Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 22. Tickets for CMU staff are $13 ($16.99 regular price). Children 2 years old and younger are free. The park is open from 5 – 9 p.m. those days, weather permitting. There is a limit of 12 tickets per person. For more information on Kennywood’s Holiday Lights, visit http://www.kennywood.com. For discounted tickets contact Nicole Stenger at nstenger@cs.cmu.edu.

Posner Center Internship Applications Due Nov. 25

Carnegie Mellon students are encouraged to apply for a unique opportunity to pursue individual study, showcase their research in a public exhibit and earn $3,000 through the Posner Center Internship Program, sponsored by the Posner Fine Arts Foundation.

To apply, compose an essay explaining your interest or proposed research topic, including the materials you would plan to use from the Posner Memorial Collection and a brief bio.

During the spring 2014 semester, the selected intern will research their topic and work with the special collections librarian to prepare an exhibit for display at the Posner Center from summer through fall 2014. The exhibit will be promoted by the University Libraries and accessible to all Posner Center visitors, including the university’s Board of Trustees.

The application deadline is 11:59 p.m., Monday, Nov. 25. Please direct any questions to Special Collections Librarian Mary Kay Johnsen at 412-268-6622 or mj0g@andrew.cmu.edu. Read more about the internship program at http://www.cmu.edu/posner-center/internship/index.html

Spring Textbook Adoptions Due

Faculty and departmental administrators are reminded to submit Spring course material adoptions as soon as possible via cmu.verbacollect.com or by email to Matt Senvisky at msenvisk@andrew.cmu.edu. Early adoptions mean more rental textbooks, more used books and better textbook pricing for students.