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Feb. 22: University Hosts Author of New Book Giving Inside View of Robotics Institute


Anne Watzman

Byron Spice

Media Advisory: Carnegie Mellon To Host Author of New Book
That Gives Inside View of People, Projects in the Robotics InstituteAlmost Human

EVENT: Meet Pittsburgh author Lee Gutkind and hear how he wrote his latest book, "Almost Human — Making Robots Think," a behind-the-scenes look at the people and projects inside Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute (RI). The book, to be published by W.W. Norton & Co., features four Carnegie Mellon faculty members, including Computer Science Professor Manuela Veloso, Associate Research Professor David Wettergreen, Robotics Professor William "Red" Whittaker and Biological Sciences Professor Alan Waggoner, as well as NASA scientist Nathalie Cabrol and dozens of other RI faculty, students and staff members (some of whom will be on hand for this event). Gutkind tells the stories behind robots that inspect and map abandoned coal mines, contend autonomously in international robotic soccer competitions, search for life with NASA scientists in Chile's Atacama Desert, and almost win DARPA's 2005 Grand Challenge — a race for rovers in the Mojave Desert.

Gutkind spent four years in the labs and classrooms of the Robotics Institute, observing the inhabitants, sitting in on their classes, attending their meetings and traveling to odd places to view the progress of their research.     

Gutkind is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and a master of the creative non-fiction genre. He has written books about organ transplantation, pediatrics, veterinary medicine, baseball umpires and the tragedy of childhood mental illness. He is founder and editor of the journal Creative Nonfiction. For more, see

WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27.
A book signing and presentation for the university community will take place at 4 p.m. in Wean Hall 7500.

WHERE: 3305 Newell-Simon Hall, behind Hamburg Hall off Forbes Avenue on the Carnegie Mellon campus. You will enter Newell-Simon on the third level and room 3305 will be up the hallway to your right. Parking is available in the lot underneath the Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC) at Panther Hollow on the western edge of campus. Take Forbes Avenue to S. Craig Street. Turn onto S. Craig, make a right onto Henry Street and a right onto Neville Street. The CIC parking lot is down the hill on your left. After parking, take the elevator to the lobby and exit. Newell-Simon Hall will be a few hundred yards away on the right.