Carnegie Mellon University

Dear CMU Ambassadors,

For three days this fall, Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon were at the center of a world-spanning, future-looking conversation to address energy security and climate change. More than 4,000 international energy leaders descended on Pittsburgh for the Global Clean Energy Action Forum — and Carnegie Mellon University’s research and innovation were in the spotlight.

This convening of global energy ministers from 31 countries, CEOs, experts and policymakers aimed to catalyze new innovations and accelerate the deployment of existing technologies and policies to advance the world’s clean energy transition. As part of the event’s activities, dignitaries visited our facilities at Mill 19 to view demonstrations of cutting-edge research and technologies, and CMU community members served as panelists discussing critical topics. The Department of Energy selected Pittsburgh as the location and CMU as the co-host because our region and institution are tirelessly working in this consequential area on multiple fronts: science, technology and policy.

The Global Clean Action Energy Forum is just one of several recent examples of Carnegie Mellon’s thought leadership that I’m pleased to share with you as a CMU Ambassador. Our institution — and especially our faculty — are increasingly influencing the national research agenda as government officials seek advice, advocacy and partnership on important initiatives and policies around economic development and innovation.

In August, I was honored to be at the White House for the signing of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 — historic bipartisan legislation that CMU helped to shape, including through my testimony before Congress and through engagement from our faculty with the White House, Congress and federal agencies. The act will increase U.S. competitiveness, boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing and fund scientific research and development at levels not seen since the dawn of the space race. It joins several other pieces of legislation that aim to put science and technology at the center of our national response to societal challenges. In September, the Pittsburgh region was awarded a $62.7 million Regional Challenge grant for which CMU is a partner. This grant will capitalize on southwestern Pennsylvania’s strengths in robotics, AI and automation by applying these technologies to more of our region’s key sectors and accelerating workforce development initiatives that will offer more people pathways to opportunity.

Our thought leadership is also showcased in an op-ed by Richard Scheines, the Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Writing in The Hill, Dean Scheines makes the case for why investment in the social sciences is a critical tool in addressing the challenges of the coming decades. From vaccine hesitancy to ethics in AI, public and private partners must provide investments in the social sciences that parallel other science and technology funding to ensure solutions are effective and don’t have unintended consequences.

CMU’s role as a global agent for change is further illustrated by our September announcement of a $275.7 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to expand engineering and technology education at CMU-Africa. This transformational grant will endow our engineering graduate degree program in Africa and will launch a new pan-African initiative to facilitate the digital transformation of the continent and its economy. Earning a degree through CMU-Africa is life-changing for students, and the innovative and entrepreneurial mindset they are bringing to their careers and industries has an exponential effect on economic opportunities across Africa. This grant is truly a game-changer for both our campus and the continent, and we look forward to its far-reaching effects in the years ahead.

CMU is also leading a transformation of scientific discovery with our investment in the world’s first cloud laboratory in an academic setting. Now under construction near our Pittsburgh campus, the cutting-edge facility will allow researchers to conduct experiments at a rapid pace for a fraction of the cost, accelerating progress through automation. Rebecca Doerge, the Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science, recently explained our vision for this extraordinary project, part of our multifaceted future of science initiative that includes the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences, in The Guardian.

Research into haptic technology — designed to create the sensation of touch for device users — is an area where CMU continues to push boundaries. Popular Science highlighted a new technology from our Future Interfaces Group that uses tiny ultrasound speakers in a virtual reality headset to mimic sensations like water splashing onto your face. These kinds of technologies are integral to creating fully immersive digital experiences. This CMU lab was also featured on a recent NBC Nightly News segment that reached millions of households.

It is not just CMU’s science, policy and technology expertise that is attracting attention. As a world-renowned leader in the performing arts, our alumni continue to earn recognition at the highest levels. A trio of alumni won six Tony Awards at the annual ceremony for which CMU is the exclusive higher education partner. Jamie deRoy and Kevin Emrick each took home awards for Best Play and Best Revival of a Musical for “The Lehman Trilogy” and “Company.” In addition, Kevin joined Billy Porter in winning Best Musical for “A Strange Loop.” And at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, alumnus Noah Mitz won Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special for “Adele: One Night Only.” Our incredible School of Drama and its alumni are regularly at the forefront of artistic excellence and innovation.

Finally, I’m pleased to share that the latest U.S. News & World Report annual rankings contained exceptional recognition of CMU’s upward trajectory. This year, our ranking among National Universities climbed to #22. In addition, we were chosen as the #3 Most Innovative School, and 23 specialty areas received top 10 rankings, spanning computer science, business and engineering. These successes reflect our continued focus on student services, instruction, research and the overall CMU experience — investments that we aim to build upon with your continued support.

As always, thank you for your advocacy, service and support of Carnegie Mellon. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming in-person events, either on campus or around the country!


Farnam Jahanian
President and Henry L. Hillman President's Chair