Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

8 1/2 x 11 Newsletter - July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008
Vol. 19, No. 4

In this issue:

Walk in Pausch's Memory Set For Aug. 17; Memorial Service This Fall

Members of the Carnegie Mellon community will participate in the 5K "Pick Up the Pace for Pancreatic Cancer" walk in memory of Computer Science Professor Randy Pausch at 10 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 17, at the North Park Boathouse in Allison Park. To join the team, visit and click on "Pausch's People" on the right-hand side of the page. Walk participants and supporters can purchase a black and gold bandanna for $3 by contacting Cleah Schlueter,, or Vivian Lee, The proceeds will be donated in Pausch's honor to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Pausch, who earned his greatest worldwide fame for his inspirational "Last Lecture" which he turned into a bestselling book with fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus Jeffrey Zaslow, died July 25 of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47. That life-affirming lecture, a guide on how to lead your life and a "message in a bottle" for his three young children, was delivered at Carnegie Mellon Sept. 18, 2007, a few weeks after Pausch learned he had months to live. Titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," the humorous and heartfelt talk was videotaped and unexpectedly spread around the world via the Internet. Tens of millions of people have since been inspired by viewing the video footage, which is available at

An award-winning computer scientist, Pausch co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center and created the revolutionary computer programming software tool known as "Alice." He was also the creator of the popular "Building Virtual Worlds" class. "Perhaps the greatest lesson, however, Randy taught us all was how to live, even in the face of great challenges, and how to follow our passion," said President Jared L. Cohon. "We will miss Randy, but we will carry the memory of him and all that he did to make Carnegie Mellon a better university and each of us who knew him a better person."

A campus memorial service is being planned for this fall. Details will be announced at a later date.

For more on Pausch and his legacy, visit

CFA Appoints Interim Heads of Architecture, Design and Drama

Hilary Robinson, the Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts, has appointed interim heads for its schools of Architecture, Design and Drama. Stephen Lee, an architecture professor, succeeds Laura Lee who stepped down earlier this year to take a sabbatical this fall and will return to teaching in January. Stephen Lee, faculty advisor to Carnegie Mellon's solar decathlon teams, has focused his work on systems integration for high performance, and sustainable commercial and residential architecture. He is a sustainable architecture consultant for institutional and commercial clients in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Stephen Stadelmeier, an associate professor in the School of Design who teaches product design courses, succeeds Dan Boyarski, who is taking a one-year sabbatical and will return to the faculty next fall. Stadelmeier's interests include group problem formulation, working strategies and personal mobility. He is currently involved in a project on dynamic wheelchair seating in conjunction with Falcon Industries and the University of Pittsburgh.

Dick Block, a longtime senior lecturer who has also served the Drama School as an associate head, succeeds Elizabeth Bradley who resigned to become chair of the Department of Drama at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Block has worked on such Broadway productions as "Evita," "42nd St.," "Barnum" and "Cats," and has been involved with projects at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Public Theatre.

New Master's Degree Crosses Traditional Boundaries

A new Master of Tangible Interaction Design (MTID) degree has been created in the School of Architecture, which draws on the university's strengths in the arts, robotics, software and human-computer interaction. The program aims to attract two distinct groups: computer scientists and engineers wanting to master creative skills; and artists, musicians, designers and architects seeking technical abilities to implement ideas. "There will be remarkable opportunities for creative people who have skills and experience that cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries and who are comfortable making informed decisions about physical form, computational behavior and human experience," said Mark D. Gross, professor in the School of Architecture and director of the MTID program. The university is recruiting students for the first class, which begins in the fall semester.

For more:

University Study Asks, "Why Play a Losing Game?"

A new Carnegie Mellon study sheds light on the reasons why low-income lottery players eagerly invest in a product that provides poor returns. "Some poor people see playing the lottery as their best opportunity for improving their financial situations, albeit wrongly so," said the study's lead author Emily Haisley, a doctoral student in the Department of Organizational Behavior and Theory at the Tepper School of Business. In the study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, participants who were made to feel subjectively poor bought nearly twice as many lottery tickets as a comparison group that was made to feel subjectively more affluent.

The researchers recommend that state lottery administrators explore strategies that balance the economic burdens faced by low-income households with the need to maintain important funding streams for state governments. George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon professor of economics and psychology, and Romel Mostafa, a graduate student in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, are study co-authors.

For more:

News Briefs

  • Eight students from Carnegie Mellon's Music Preparatory School, aged 9 to 16, captured top honors at the 52nd World Piano Competition July 2–13 in Cincinnati. Of those eight winners, six are graduates of the School's Beginning Piano for Children class taught by piano majors in conjunction with the School of Music's piano pedagogy program. All winners received a cash prize based on their medal and will be featured in a recital in New York's Carnegie Hall. For more:
  • The Chiara, an educational robot developed in Computer Science Research Professor Dave Touretzky's Tekkotsu lab, took second place at the AAAI-08 (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) Mobile Robot Exhibition and Workshop July 13–17 in Chicago. The six-legged robot features a six-degree range of freedom arm with gripper, a webcam and a Pico-ITX computer running Ubuntu Linux. The Tekkotsu lab at Carnegie Mellon teaches undergraduates the computer science side of robotics: computer vision, navigation, manipulation and human-robot interaction. For more:

Personal Mention

  • The magnetic nanoparticle research of Materials Science and Engineering Professor Michael E. McHenry is currently available on the Engineering TV Web site. McHenry is also featured on the site discussing topics such as cut-core transformers, radio-frequency plasma torch synthesis and ferrofluids. For more:
  • Graduate students from the School of Design and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) will present their project from this past semester at the Design Expo at the Microsoft Faculty Summit July 27–29 in Redmond, Wash. The project, "Current-c," is a device designed to help people effectively interact with money at the moment of purchase and to divide one's financial life into categories that make sense to them. The student participants are Gabe Clapper, Melissa Cliver, Lesley Fleishman, Christina Payne and Elliott Williams. Bruce Hanington, associate professor in the School of Design, and Shelley Evenson, associate professor in the School of Design and the HCII, led the project-based course, which was sponsored by Microsoft and Motorola.
  • The Heinz School's Creative Enterprise Management student Kendria Perry took home the crown at the 2008 Miss Pennsylvania pageant July 12 in Nazareth, Pa. She will go on to represent Pennsylvania at the 2009 Miss America competition, Jan. 24 in Las Vegas.

Calendar Highlights