Carnegie Mellon University

Gelfand Center Welcomes Propel Schools to CMU

By Sofia Baybekova

On March 27, sixty-four students from Propel Andrew Street High School and Propel Braddock Hills High School visited Carnegie Mellon University. The visit was organized by the Leonard Gelfand Center with support from the Simon Initiative. During their visit, students attended talks from CMU faculty members Dr. Marc Dandin, and Dr. Swarun Kumar, as well as a CMU PhD candidate Ananya Rao. Students also received a tour of CMU’s TechSpark and Moore Lab facilities. 

Dr. Marc Dandin, an Assistant Professor at CMU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, talked about his professional background as a co-founder of a start-up company within the medical diagnostics space, and his experience working in several law firms as a technical specialist. Dr. Dandin provided the students with insight into what it takes to start your own company and the benefits of having expertise in a variety of fields. He also briefly discussed his current research work at CMU which focuses on biomedicine, microsystems engineering, and integrated circuit design. 

Dr. Swarun Kumar is the Sathaye Family Foundation Associate Professor at CMU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department, with affiliate appointments at CMU’s School of Computer Science, the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, and Cylab. Dr. Kumar discussed his research which focuses on building next-generation wireless network protocols and services. Dr. Kumar leads the Laboratory for Emerging Wireless Technologies (WiTech) at CMU. 

Ananya Rao is a PhD candidate in Robotics at CMU advised by Dr. David Wettergreen and Dr. Howie Choset. Rao told the students about her educational journey and shared the life experiences that led her on the path of pursuing a PhD in robotics at CMU. Rao also talked about her current area of study which focuses on autonomy for space exploration and disaster management. Rao earned her B.S. in Computer Science from CMU’s School of Computer Science, and an M.S. in Robotics from CMU’s Robotics Institute. She is the recipient of the Best Paper Award at the International Symposium on Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems (DARS21).

propel_speakers.jpgAnanya Rao, Swarun Kumar, and Marc Dandin. 

After the presentations, Propel students toured CMU’s TechSpark and Moore Lab facilities. Dr. Axel Moore, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at CMU took the students on a tour of Moore Lab and discussed his research. The students interacted with models of human spines that implement spinal deformity progression and correction procedures. 

propel_moorelab_1.jpgAxel Moore showing Propel students models of spines from Moore Lab.

propel_moorelab_2.jpgPropel students looking at models of spines from Moore Lab.

At TechSpark, Ed Wojciechowski, TeckSpark’s Machine Shop Manager gave the students an in-depth tour of all the equipment the space has to offer. Propel students were very excited to see the variety of different projects CMU students were working on, and were greatly inspired by the many building possibilities within CMU’s maker space. 

propel-techspark-1.jpgPropel students visiting TechSpark.

propel-techspark-2.jpgEd Wojciechowski giving Propel students a tour of TechSpark.

The mission of the Leonard Gelfand Center is “to create and strengthen partnerships with local schools and education providers”. This visit was a great example of the exciting cross-departmental programming available to Pittsburgh’s K-12 partners through Gelfand Outreach. If you are a K-12 partner and would like to learn more about other programming opportunities available through the Leonard Gelfand Center, contact Pamela Piskurich, the Director of Educational Outreach Initiatives at the Gelfand Center.