Carnegie Mellon University

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CMU Community News

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December 04, 2014

News Briefs

Toys for Tots Pick-Up Dec. 9

A Carnegie Mellon shuttle bus will be stationed on the walkway near the Cohon University Center’s Merson Courtyard from 8 to 10 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 9, to pick up donations to this year’s Toys for Tots Campaign. Sponsored by the College of Engineering First-Year Advisory Board and the Carnegie Mellon University Police, the program is modeled after the U.S. Marine Corps program that has been collecting toys for needy children since the 1950s. 

All donations must be new and unwrapped toys.

Collection sites prior to Dec. 9 are as follows:

  • Carnegie Mellon University Police, 300 South Craig Street, Main lobby;
  • Software Engineering Institute, Main Lobby;
  • Mellon Institute, 3rd floor Security Desk;
  • UTDC, Main Lobby;
  • Morewood Gardens, Student Life Office;
  • Warner Hall, Enrollment Services;
  • Cohon University Center, Student Activities Office;
  • College of Fine Arts, Room 104;
  • Pittsburgh Technology Center, Technology Drive, Main Lobby;
  • NREC, 40th Street, Main Lobby; Hunt Library, 1st Floor Lobby;
  • Tepper School of Business, 1st Floor Main Lobby; and
  • Scaife Hall, Room 110.

If anyone has toys that need to be picked up and cannot make it to the pick-up site or any of the above locations, contact CMU Police Officer Donald Campbell at

Students To Present Surveillance Policy Recommendations to City Council

From drones to traffic cameras to body cameras, technology is giving law enforcement officials many new options to watch and protect citizens. However, their use raises legal and ethical questions, including potentially violating the privacy rights of innocent people.

CMU students majoring in ethics, history and public policy will present their recommendations on the issue to City of Pittsburgh officials from 1:30 - 3 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 10 in City Council Chambers.

Learn more.

CMU, Pitt Collaborate To Enhance Library Services

In an email to the Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh communities this past Tuesday, Dec. 2, CMU President Subra Suresh and Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced a collaboration among the school’s library systems to better respond to the evolving needs of its respective campuses. 

The partnership, led by Keith Webster, dean of University Libraries at Carnegie Mellon, and Ronald Larsen, dean of the School of Information Sciences at Pitt, will explore how best to leverage the expertise and resources across each university to improve library services for students, faculty, staff and alumni at each institution.

Learn more.

CAS Accepting Proposals for Performance Initiative

The Center for the Arts in Society (CAS) is accepting project proposals for its Performance Initiative (2014-2017), coordinated by Wendy Arons of the Drama School and Kristina Straub of the English Department. The center plans to approach performance as an expansive form, from the traditional relationship between an audience and an actor to the constructions of political protest or how we frame our lives through social rituals, athletics, digital capture devices and everyday acts.

A close examination of human performance has begun to define most fields, from politics to robotics and from entertainment to art and literature. It is a topic that has the possibility to bring together many fields of exploration between the arts and humanities with potentially potent results.

For this initiative, CAS will undertake three faculty-led projects that involve analysis and production in their events and activities. Two of the three projects were announced at the presentation on Sept. 3. “Performing Peace” will be directed by John Carson (School of Art) and Jennifer Keating-Miller (Undergraduate Research Office.) Larry Shea (School of Drama) will direct “Ghosts in the Machines.” A third project will be selected in February after a review of the proposals. Learn more.

CoBots Reach 1,000-Kilometer Milestone

For three years, a group of robots, known as CoBots, has been navigating the corridors of Carnegie Mellon's Gates and Hillman centers and Newell-Simon Hall, running errands and guiding visitors without human supervision. On Nov. 18, their collective odometer reached 1,000 kilometers — more than 620 miles — a first-ever accomplishment for indoor autonomous robots.

And they have no plans to stop.

Manuela Veloso, professor of computer science and founder and leader of the CoBot project, said reaching 1,000 kilometers is a scientific and engineering milestone that clearly separates common technology demonstrations from a long-term operation, offering new solutions and challenges for artificial intelligence and robotics researchers.

Learn more.

PSC Receives NSF Award for Bridges Supercomputer

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has received a $9.65 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a uniquely capable supercomputer designed to empower new research communities, bring desktop convenience to supercomputing, expand campus access and help researchers needing to tackle vast data to work more intuitively.

Called Bridges, the new supercomputer will consist of three tiered, memory-intensive resources to serve a wide variety of scientists, including those new to supercomputing and without specialized programming skills.

Bridges will offer new computational capabilities to researchers working in diverse, data-intensive fields such as genomics, the social sciences and the humanities.

Learn more.

CMU-Q Team Introduces "Alice" to Middle East

A team of faculty and students from Carnegie Mellon in Qatar recently introduced "Alice Middle East," 3-D interactive educational animation software designed to help primary and secondary school students learn the basics of computer programming and how to apply logical thinking and problem-solving techniques.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser expressed a keen interest in Alice in 2008, which prompted Carnegie Mellon faculty to explore the possibility of developing a version of Alice for the Middle East. Funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) National Priorities Research Program, Alice Middle East was first implemented in 2012 with an initial pilot program in Al-Arqam Academy, a private English-speaking school in Doha.

Nour Elhouda Tabet, a teacher at Al Arqam Academy, commented on the impact of Alice in her classroom.

"Innovation is driven by expression and our upcoming generation is highly creative and our teaching methods must support this. Alice has enabled students to express their ideas through storytelling and animation whilst also learning programming skills along the way. Alice has an impact on the students overall learning experience; we can utilize it to further their interest in writing, history or art," Tabet said.

Learn more.

“'Twas the Night Before Christmas” Exhibit on Display

An exhibit for “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” with examples from The Anne Lyon Haight Collection of 300 editions of Clement Clark Moore’s poem, is on view in Special Collections, Hunt Library, 4th floor.

Find out if Santa is really elf-sized and the types of toys he brings. Discover if Santa uses technology like telephones and skywriting or why nostalgia seems important to the illustrators.

Hours are 1 - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, or by appointment with Mary Kay Johnsen, or 412-268-6622.

Support the Children’s School at Barnes & Noble Bookfair

Shop and support the Carnegie Mellon Children’s School at the Barnes & Noble Bookfair at the Waterfront from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6.

A percentage of your purchase of books and items at the café will benefit the Children’s School. At 2 p.m., former Pittsburgh Steeler Josh Miller and Shawn Allen will be on hand to sign their book “Always a Home Game.”

If you can’t attend in person, shop online Dec. 6-11 by visiting BN.COM/bookfairs and enter bookfair ID #11402047 at checkout.

MBA Students Analyze Robot Design To Help Boost Tech Transfer

MBA students at the Tepper School of Business worked with CMU’s Robotics Institute, experts from IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, and industry stakeholders to analyze critical steps in the robot design process and how establishing standards, best practices and access to data can help boost the transfer of technology into the marketplace. This project, closely aligned with IEEE’s mission of “Advancing Technology for Humanity,” supported a graduate level course in marketing.

“Our students examined the role of engineers throughout the development process of new robotic technologies, from concept to production. This included an assessment of the major process challenges that engineers face, identifying sources of information and data that are currently available and pinpointing unmet needs,” said John Mather, head of the master’s degree program and professor of marketing.  “Focused on key transfer phases in the robot design process, the students surveyed robotics engineers, scientists and researchers to determine the potential benefits of standardization and increased access to shared data and best practices.”

Learn more.

Alumni Honored Among Region's Smartest Business Leaders

Honoring the Pittsburgh region for its renaissance, Smart Business Magazine brought its popular Smart 50 Awards program for top business and organizational leaders to Pittsburgh this year, and Carnegie Mellon participated as a sponsor of the program that honored recipients during a dinner and reception on Nov. 19 at the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center.

Presented by Chase, recipients were recognized as the top executives of the smartest 50 companies in the Pittsburgh region for their ability to effectively build and lead organizations that have a strong commitment to the area’s growth and success. The honorees represented a diverse span of industries, including corporations and community service organizations.

In addition to its sponsorship, Carnegie Mellon took the spotlight as several alumni were among the Smart 50 recipients. They were:

  •     Josh Knauer (BA/DC ’95), president and CEO of Rhiza;
  •     Sean McDonald (EMP ’91), president and CEO of Precision Therapeutics;
  •     Jesse Schell (MS/CIT ’93), owner of Schell Games and ETC professor;
  •     Herb Shear (EMP ’01), executive chairman at GENCO;
  •     Scott Barnyak (BSIM ’91), principal partner at SDLC Partners; and
  •     Henry Wang (BS/DC ’97; MIS/HNZ ’97), principal at TMD Holdings, LLC.

Learn more.

West Side of East Campus Garage Re-Opens; Turnaround Eliminated

The west entrance/exit of the East Campus Garage has re-opened (one entry and one exit lane) and the Cohon University Center (CUC) loading dock has moved to a temporary location as the construction work zone has shifted to the Forbes Avenue side of the CUC. Lease holders will be required to exit the garage from the Beeler Street exit from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

This work area shift has eliminated the CUC turnaround. Individual cars picking up or dropping off people or goods may use the new short-term parking area located just inside the west entrance of the East Campus Garage. Alternative pick-up and drop-off areas have been identified for caravans of cars transporting groups, hotel and non-CMU shuttle vans and charter buses. See for staging information.

Read about the CUC Addition project.

Attention Ph.D.s: Seeking Participants for Three Minute Thesis Competition

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) challenges Ph.D. students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just 3 minutes, in language appropriate for a general audience. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or "dumbing-down" research but forces students to consolidate their ideas and crystallize their research discoveries.

Any currently enrolled CMU Ph.D. candidate may sign up to compete. Register online. Registration deadline is Jan. 18.

Qualifying rounds will be held January through March and the championship round will be held in April. Heat winners will receive iPads or the equivalent value as a research/travel grant. Championship winners will receive $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 research/travel grants.

Learn more about Three Minute Thesis.

"Be the Answer"; Give to the United Way

Carnegie Mellon’s 2014 United Way Campaign runs through Thursday, Dec. 11. This year’s theme is "Be the answer."

Employees are encouraged to live this year’s campaign theme by advocating for, or volunteering with, the United Way and by pledging or donating during the campaign. Please visit to make your pledge online and learn more about featured agencies that benefit from the United Way, including CMU's current featured agency, Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (United Way agency code #300). "Be the answer" to someone in need in Allegheny County. Pledge today!