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August 09, 2012

Personal Mention

Simon Engler, a Robotics Institute Summer Scholar from the University of Calgary, has spent this summer working on robotic technology that might search for life on Mars. And next year, he’ll be working on food preparation skills that may one day support life — human life — on that planet. Engler is one of six people selected from more than 700 applicants to participate in a NASA-sponsored experiment called Hi-SEAS, or the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. He and his fellow crew members will spend four months on a simulated Mars mission, living and working like astronauts amidst the isolation of a Hawaiian lava field. Whenever he and the other crew members leave their special habitat, they will be suited up in space gear. He will field test a number of robots and related technology, including special binoculars that produce 3-D lidar images and new forms of food and food preparation strategies designed for sustaining astronauts on Mars and other deep-space missions. Read the full story.

Manuela Veloso, the Herbert A. Simon professor, was recently profiled in Wired Magazine as the "World's Most Wired Robot Master" for her CoBots (short for "collaborative robot"). Veloso aims to make robots that can anticipate and handle physical unknowns. Obstacle avoidance may not seem very glamorous at first glance — most people want their robots to shoot lasers or cry "danger!" — but it's a linchpin of real-world robotics and one of Veloso's key areas of focus. Read the article.

London isn’t the only place where the USA is winning gold. Lori Levin, associate research professor in the Language Technologies Institute, helped coach teams of U.S. high school students at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Levin reports the U.S. teams won two gold, three silver and one bronze medal, including first place in team competition.

Recent TV ads encouraging American workers to do "radical" things such as use their vacation days and take lunch breaks have received a lot of attention from columnists at The New York Times to popular bloggers. Associate Professor of English Kathy M. Newman takes on the topic in her latest post for the Working Class Perspectives blog. In "Take Back Your Vacation," Newman outlines the controversy and describes what it does to define American workers today. Read the piece.

Nada Arakji, who will be a freshman at Carnegie Mellon's Qatar campus this fall, was the first female Qatari swimmer to participate in the Olympics when she competed  in the 50-meter freestyle, Friday, Aug. 3. Arakji placed fourth in her heat with a time of :30.89. The gold medal in the event went to Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands with a time of :24.05. Arakji will study business administration with a minor in marketing. She also plans to join the basketball team, encourage other girls to take up sports and lead her own swimming club.

Juan Arrieta, who earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at CMU in 2007, has been awarded one of 28 fellowships in the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NAIC) program. Proposals were selected based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter and improve current approaches to launching, building and operating aerospace systems. Arrieta’s project, titled "The Regolith Biters — A Divide-and-Conquer Architecture for Sample-Return Missions," proposes a new approach to obtain samples from the soil (technically called "regolith") of small celestial bodies (asteroids and comets) and return them to Earth for scientific analysis. Read more about the NAIC program.

Second-year Master of Entertainment Industry Management (MEIM) students Samantha Fabin and Jing Lin recently returned from spending more than two weeks in Cannes, France. The pair was interning at the American Pavilion, a communication and hospitality center for the thousands of Americans visiting during the Cannes Film Festival. Since its debut in 1989, the pavilion has become a permanent fixture on the Cannes landscape. Fabin and Lin attended the festival as part of the American Pavilion's Student Program, an intensive internship and educational workshop that takes place in conjunction with the film festival. The competitive selection process involved submitting a resume, transcript, a recommendation letter and an essay. Read the full story.