Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
February 13, 2014

News Briefs

Health Care Technology Conference Tomorrow

Carnegie Mellon's third annual Innovation in Health Care Technology Conference will bring together health care industry leaders, information technology experts and entrepreneurs to discuss "Transforming Health Care Through Innovative Disruption." The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 14) at the Omni William Penn Hotel, downtown.

The agenda includes keynote presentations by Dr. William F. Bria III, chief medical information officer at the HCI Group and board chairman for the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, and CMU's Alan J. Russell, the Highmark Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems and director of the Disruptive Health Technology Institute.

Faculty from the Heinz College and Tepper School of Business will moderate several panel discussions. Read more.

Scott Institute Announces Energy Grants

The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation has announced a second round of seed grants to explore energy-related questions, such as how consumers might change their behavior if they received feedback on the electricity usage of their plug-in appliances, and what kind of methods and techniques can be derived for optimum partitioning of power in distributed power generation systems.

"When we put out our most recent call for short proposals, we quickly received 34 innovative and interdisciplinary ideas from across the campus," said M. Granger Morgan, Scott Institute director and head of the Engineering and Public Policy Department. "The response demonstrates the many opportunities to build new bridges and undertake new innovative projects on our campus."

According to Andy Gellman, institute co-director, one impressive aspect of the responses received is that they spanned a wide range of activity, from developing advanced technologies to human behavior and improving public policy. "Such broad interdisciplinary interest and strength is probably CMU's greatest asset in energy research and education," Gellman said.

Read about the seven seed grants.

Engineering Sponsors Video Contest

The College of Engineering and the National Academy of Engineering are sponsoring video contests with cash prizes! The College of Engineering contest is open to CIT students as individuals or as part of a team. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged, too.

The CIT contest deadline is Monday, Feb. 17. Learn more about the contests.

CMU Report Commended by Middle States

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education commended Carnegie Mellon for the quality of its Periodic Review Report, which was submitted in June 2013.
Such commendations go to fewer than one in 10 universities. Nearly 200 CMU faculty and staff took part in preparing the report, which is comparable to a “midterm report card” in the reaccreditation cycle.
President Subra Suresh said the result is “a tribute to the university’s commitment to meaningful assessment of our academic programs and administrative systems, and to continuously improve the way we accomplish our core missions of research and teaching.”
CMU will conduct its next Middle States self-study and peer reviewer visit in 2016-2018. 

CMU Technology Teaches Children Fus-ha

A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon in Qatar has developed a new way to teach fus-ha, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), using interactive technology. The project, “Advancing Arabic Language Learning in Qatar,” was funded by a Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) grant in 2009 and this year the Carnegie Mellon researchers partnered with Qatar Academy to bring their technology into kindergarten classes.

Before starting school, most Arab children do not realize that there are two variants of the Arabic language: the local dialect they speak at home and the formal version called Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). While rarely used for day-to-day interactions, MSA is the variety used in writing and formal speech.

To address the pressing need to introduce students to MSA, the team of researchers created a series of activities based on the Middle Eastern folk tale Aladdin, which they presented on large, interactive surfaces called Microsoft PixelSense. The 40-inch displays allow children to interact with the program — and each other — at any one time.

Among the activities are an alphabet bingo, where students score points by pairing objects with their first letters, and a storyboard, where students recreate the Aladdin tale by placing scenes in the right order. While the lessons meet Qatar’s Supreme Education Council Arabic curricula, this is the first time such an approach has been used in Qatar.

Learn more:

Thank You, Donors

Carnegie Mellon celebrated its fifth annual Love a Donor Week (Feb. 10-14) to honor alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends who support Carnegie Mellon. At events across campus students came together to express their gratitude in a personal way by writing "thank you" notes to donors for making annual gifts to the university in 2013. This past Monday, Carnegie Mellon thanked the many faculty and staff donors with an appreciation lunch. More than 130 faculty and staff donors attended the luncheon.

Love a Donor week also educates students about the essential role philanthropy plays in the life of a university. Learn more about Love a Donor Week and read some of the exciting stories about CMU donors at

EH&S Testing Ice Alert Markers

Winter conditions bring an increase in people slipping and falling, and this winter has been no exception. To help make people more aware of potentially icy conditions, Environmental Health & Safety is testing six ice alert warning markers at various points around campus.

These markers look like pinwheels and turn blue as conditions become more favorable for sidewalks to be icy, particularly if there is black ice that is almost impossible to see. If you see these markers and they are blue, adjust your walking accordingly. Walk slower, take a wider stance, use shorter strides, bend your knees slightly and use handrails on stairs. 

The locations of these markers are:

  • Driveway between Hamburg Hall and the Collaborative Innovation Center Building off of Forbes Ave.;
  • Warner Hall campus directory area;
  • Walkway between the East Campus Garage and the University Center;
  • The east end of the East-West walkway;
  • Near the Fence; and
  • Bottom of Tech Street, at the College of Fine Arts parking lot entrance.

Student Employee of the Year Award Nominations Now Open

Nominations are now being accepted for the Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY) Award sponsored by the National Student Employment Association (NSEA). This award program recognizes the outstanding contributions of students who work while attending college. All undergraduate student employees are eligible for nomination. The SEOTY nomination process and form are available at: Registration deadline is Feb. 21. Contact Pati Kravetz at with questions.

Student Employees To Be Honored at Appreciation Lunch

Registration is now open for the Student Employee Appreciation Lunch from 12 – 1:30 p.m., April 2 in the  University Center’s Rangos Hall. Campus supervisors can host their student employees, and join them for lunch to celebrate the great work they do. Entertainment will be provided by musical theater students in the School of Drama. Registration deadline is March 28. Register at

Dates Added for Responsible Conduct of Research Seminar Series

Additional dates have been scheduled for the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series this semester. Upcoming sessions are scheduled from 12 – 1 p.m. in the University Center. Dates and topics are:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 18: Introduction to Intellectual Property
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25: Ethical Issues with Research Involving Human Subjects
  • Tuesday, March 18: Who Owns the Data?
  • Wednesday, March 26: Data Security
  • Tuesday, April 8: Research Data Management
  • Tuesday, April 22: International Research Considerations: Foreign Travel and Foreign Collaborators

More information is available on the RCR website. Space is limited, so please register early.

Seeking Notary Publics

Human Resources is updating notary public information listed in the online Faculty/Staff Directory. If you are a notary public and willing to provide notary public services free of charge to employees and students for official university business, and would like to be included in the directory, please send email to Haley Lantz at and include your name, department, location and phone number.

Drink for Pink at The Porch, Feb. 26

Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff are invited to participate in “Drink for Pink,” a fundraiser for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Susan B. Komen Foundation, from 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26 at The Porch at Schenley Plaza.

Guest bartenders will include Senator Jay Costa, City Council members Dan Gilman (DC'04), Corey O’Connor and Bruce Kraus. The guest of honor is former Steelers Quarterback Charlie Batch.

Sponsored by Dollar Bank, the event is a project of the Oakland Business Improvement District, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the South Side Chamber of Commerce.

Learn To Swim

Adult group swimming lessons began Feb. 4 and will continue every Tuesday for five weeks (Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25 and March 4) from 6:30 – 7 p.m. in the University Center pool. Classes are $15 each and you can pay at the University Center Equipment Desk. The equipment desk now accepts credit cards and plaid cash.  The lesson schedule is as follows:

  • Week 1 Bobbing, Floating, Gliding and Kicking
  • Week 2 Backstroke, Freestyle Arms and Breathing
  • Week 3 Elementary Backstroke and Breaststroke
  • Week 4 Deep Water—survival techniques and treading water
  • Week 5 Review—Swimmers choice

Questions? Contact Pattye Stragar at

Safe Driving Classes Scheduled

Environmental Health & Safety has scheduled two free Safe Driving classes this semester that, depending on your insurance company, may result in lowering your insurance premiums.

University protocol requires that anyone whose job requires them to drive a vehicle on behalf of the university take this class once every three years. The class also is recommended for those who aren’t required to drive as part of their job but who may drive on occasion.
Classes will be held from 8:30 – 11 a.m. on the following days:

  • Tuesday, March 11
  • Tuesday, April 8

To register, go to and click on the Defensive Driving link.

Close Windows and Check Spaces

FMS is encouraging members of the campus community to protect their work spaces during the winter months by:

  • Checking your department's occupied and unoccupied areas;
  • Closing and locking windows; and
  • Turning thermostats ON and checking for heat.

Please pay attention to cold spots in your buildings. During extreme cold temperatures, occupants with offices on exterior walls should leave their door open and stairwell doors open to allow warm air to circulate.

Please check your areas often and report problems to Service Response at 412-268-2910. Now is the time frozen split pipes will begin to thaw and do damage to buildings.