News Briefs-Faculty & Staff News - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, July 31, 2014

News Briefs

"Shipbreakers" Wins Best Feature Documentary

"Shipbreakers," written, produced and directed by ETC faculty member Ralph Vituccio, Tom Clancey and the late Carnegie Mellon Professor Paul Goodman, has won the Best Feature Award in the Documentary Category at The World International Film Festival in San Francisco. The festival celebrates filmmakers worldwide whose topics deal with issues of the third world. The festival promotes awareness of social issues, helps gain a deeper understanding and greater respect for different cultures, and provides a platform for filmmakers to introduce their films to the broadest possible audience. 

Shipbreakers tells the story of 40,000 migrant workers in Alang, India, who make $1-$2 per day dismantling ships that are no longer seaworthy. They cut the ships apart by hand, working in extremely dangerous conditions and without any safety or labor regulations.

"This is one of the most dangerous industrial sites in the world — there are explosions all the time, people die, people are maimed," Vituccio said. "The ships are 20 stories high and several football fields long, and the men are wearing sandals, climbing up the ships on rope ladders and using chisels and hammers to break up propellers and other precious metals."

Vituccio said the environmental pollution is devastating because the ships are laden with toxic materials, which are buried in surrounding farmlands or simply left to pollute the once pristine tidal flats.

"Every ship is a sump of toxic waste," Vituccio said. "If workers aren't killed on the job from explosions or falling objects, exposure to toxic waste, for many, will result in long-term illness or early death. They don't have a union or any protection. If they complain, they don't get hired. There's no pay standardization, and if — or when — they get hurt, there is no medical or lost wages compensation."

The film will premiere at the World International Film Festival in San Francisco on Sept. 20.

Learn more about the festivalLearn more about the film.

GSA Hosts NAGPS Leadership Summit

Carnegie Mellon's Graduate Student Assembly is hosting the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) Third Annual Leadership Summit Aug. 4-6 in Baker Hall's Steinberg Auditorium. The NAGPS is a student-run, national, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for graduate and professional students across the United States.

The theme of this year's conference is "Adaptive Leadership: Empowering Leaders, Growing Communities." This theme is inspired by three types of issues that graduate student leaders often face: Leading Without Much Authority; Leading Diverse Groups; and Connecting Service with Public and Professional Lives.

Summit speakers include CMU Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert; Suzie Laurich-McIntyre, Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education at CMU; Dan Gilman, Pittsburgh City Councilman & Former CMU Student Body President; Laura Maxwell, Leadership Coach and Director of the Tepper School's Accelerate Leadership Program; David Kaufer, CMU Professor of Rhetoric and Developer of Docuscope & Classroom Salon; Ruth Poproski, Director of CMU's Eberly Center's Future Faculty Program; and Jay Whitacre, CMU Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Founder & CTO of Aquion Energy. Learn more.

Computer Poker and Robot Soccer Teams Shine in Major Competitions

Carnegie Mellon’s computer poker team dealt its strongest performance to date, decisively beating its competitors in Heads-Up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em at the Annual Computer Poker Competition at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) meeting in Quebec City.

Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon’s team in the annual RoboCup robot soccer competition, the winningest team in the history of RoboCup’s small-size league, had another strong outing at the world championship in João Pessoa, Brazil, though ultimately the team came in second.

At the AAAI, the CMU team included Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science, and two of his Ph.D. students in computer science, Noam Brown and Sam Ganzfried.  They competed against 13 other teams in the Heads-Up, No-Limit Texas Hold-em game, which Sandholm says is the game that all of the top teams focused on this year and in which the most progress has occurred in recent years.

The game included two categories of competition: elimination, in which the bots all play together and the weakest bot is eliminated at the end of each round; and total bankroll, where the goal is to win as much as possible from all opponents in aggregate. The CMU team, Tartanian 7, won both categories in the competition that concluded July 27.

At RoboCup, July 19-25, the CMDragon team included Manuela Veloso, professor of computer science, two of her Robotics Institute Ph.D. students, Joydeep Biswas and Juan Pablo Mendoza, and two Computer Science Department Ph.D. students, Danny Zhu and Richard Wang. The team won seven games to get to the final, before losing 2-0 in a rematch of last year’s final with a team from China’s Zheijang University.

EH&S To Conduct Doherty Hall Evacuation Aug. 13

To comply with the City of Pittsburgh’s All Hazards Plan, Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) will conduct a building evacuation of Doherty Hall at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 13.

An evacuation announcement will be made over the building’s public address system, followed by the sounding of the fire alarm. Once the fire alarm sounds, occupants should quickly leave the building via their nearest exit and assemble in the building’s designated assembly area, which is by the Fence, the sidewalk along the Mall or the south side of the Gates and Hillman centers. Assembly areas can be found at

Failure to leave a building when the fire alarm sounds is a violation of a City of Pittsburgh ordinance and can result in a fine and court appearance.

Questions about the evacuations should be directed to Richard Caruso at 412-951-3089 or

Call for 2015 Alumni Award Nominations: Deadline is Sept. 1

The CMU Alumni Association is accepting nominations for the 2015 Alumni Awards. Each year, the association honors alumni, students and faculty for outstanding service to the university and alumni who have achieved exceptional success in their chosen professions.
We need your nominations! An online nomination form, list of current and previous award recipients and descriptions of each award category can be found on the Web at Packets may be submitted online or sent via email (, fax 
(412-268-7239) or campus mail (Attention: Alumni Award Nominations, Office of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving, Alumni House, 2nd Floor).

Save the Date: The 2014 Alumni Award honorees will be honored beginning at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10 during Ceilidh Weekend. Learn about this year’s winners at

For more information, send email to

Olive Project Team the Runner-Up in NAS Competition

The Olive Project’s entry in the National Academy of Sciences’ competition seeking ways to increase awareness of current issues and opportunities in research data and information was selected as the runner-up. The CMU team’s entry, "Olive: Sustaining Executable Content Over Decades," is posted on the Board on Research Data and Information website. The awardees (Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Gloriana St. Clair, Benjamin Gilbert, Jan Harkes, Dan Ryan, Erika Linke and Keith Webster) will present their project on Oct. 23 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., as part of a symposium during the regularly scheduled Board of Research Data and Information meeting.

The Olive Project (Olive Executable Archive) is a collaboration between the School of Computer Science and the University Libraries.

CMU Spinoff a Finalist in Three Funding Competitions

Carnegie Mellon spinoff Rubitection, a medical device company based in Pittsburgh that is developing a low cost tool for early bedsore detection, has been named a finalist in three funding competitions for startups — MassChallenge’s Accelerator Program, the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s Big C Competition and the Risingstars Boot Camp, presented by Techstars and M-Power Nola.

Founded by alumna Sanna Gaspard, who earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at CMU, Rubitection is developing the Rubitect Assessment System to provide caregivers and health care providers with a tool to detect the early signs of bedsores. The system consists of an easy to use handheld probe that is placed on at-risk areas of the body. The system will allow caregivers to provide preventative care to keep early-stage bedsores from progressing into a more severe wound. For more information, visit

Get Your SMART ID Card Today

If you have not yet exchanged your ID Card for the new official SMART ID Card, Enrollment Services encourages you to do so at The HUB on the lower level of Warner Hall. 

Beginning Aug. 1, entry on Port Authority Transit (PAT) methods will be granted only with a valid, active SMART Card.

If you have a SMART Card and are experiencing any issues when tapping your card on a PAT card reader, please email with the following information:

  • PAT route  and direction (bus, incline, or T);
  • Date and time access denial occurred; and
  • Vehicle number (listed on the inside of a bus or T).

For additional information regarding the SMART Card transition and frequently asked questions, visit The HUB website at

Tennis, Anyone?

Tennis lessons are being offered on campus through Aug. 15. All lessons are being taught be varsity tennis coach and USPTA certified tennis professional Mike Belmonte. The cost is $60 per hour. Learn more and register.

CMU Credit Union Offers New Loan Rates

The Carnegie Mellon Credit Union is offering new rates for new and used vehicles as well as personal loans. The rates are as follows:

  • New vehicles as low as 2.25 percent for 36, 48 or 60 months;
  • New vehicles as low as 2.75 percent for 72 months;
  • Used vehicles 2007 thru 2014 as low as 2.99 percent;
  • Used vehicles as low as 3.50 percent for 72 months; and
  • Personal loans as low as 7.99 percent.

Spots Available at the Cyert Center

The Cyert Center for Early Education has openings for 2014-2015 for children who will be 4 years old through kindergarten age by the end of September. The new program year begins Aug. 18, 2014, and ends Aug. 7, 2015. Please email or call 412-268-2149 for details.