Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

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July 17, 2014

News Briefs

CMU-Alert Texts Test Scheduled for Monday, July 21

Text message subscribers to CMU-Alert, the university’s Emergency Notification Service, will receive test texts at noon, Monday, July 21. This test is for faculty and staff text message subscribers only.

This exercise is a follow-up to the test this past April, when many text message subscribers did not receive their message. It is believed that the majority of these failures were a result of our new CMU–Alert service provider, e2Campus, needing mobile phone carrier information in addition to phone numbers.

Therefore, if you are a text message subscriber and have not reviewed and/or updated your mobile phone information, please do so as soon as possible by following the instructions at

All members of the Carnegie Mellon community are encouraged to register for the CMU-Alert service, which sends voice and/or text messages to registered phones in the event of a campus emergency. These messages provide brief details about the nature of the emergency and direct you to more information and timely updates at

You can register for the CMU-Alert service at (when you click on this link, you will need to login with your username and password to access this page). Your contact information will be treated confidentially. You will be contacted by the CMU-Alert system only if there is an incident/event that threatens public safety or during tests of the system in the spring and fall semesters.

CMU Credit Union Offers New Loan Rates

The Carnegie Mellon Credit Union is offering new rates for new and used vehicles as well as personal loans. The rates are as follows:

  • New vehicles as low as 2.25 percent for 36, 48 or 60 months;
  • New vehicles as low as 2.75 percent for 72 months;
  • Used vehicles 2007 thru 2014 as low as 2.99 percent;
  • Used vehicles as low as 3.50 percent for 72 months; and
  • Personal loans as low as 7.99 percent.

Startup Neon Labs Partners With IGN; Receives $4.1 Million in Funding

Neon Labs, the Carnegie Mellon startup that uses an image selection platform to maximize viewership of, and revenue from, digital content, has announced an agreement with IGN Entertainment, a premier media publisher that attracts 48.7 million unique visitors per month.

This engagement was announced in conjunction with Neon's news of a Series A round of $4.1 million in funding. This new investment will enable Neon to meet increasing customer demand and accelerate its partnership with online video platform provider Brightcove.

"It is very exciting that IGN has chosen to be one of Neon's first partners. Our collaboration with them has reinforced how ideally suited Neon's proprietary technology is to helping online video publishers increase user engagement through state-of-the-art brain science," said Neon co-founder and senior technical adviser Michael J. Tarr, head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Psychology. "This is great for Neon and illustrates how basic research in human cognitive neuroscience can be successfully applied to solve technology problems."

Founded on research conducted in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), Neon is one of the first companies to use cognitive and brain science to increase audience engagement for online video publishers. Using research that shows how visual perception unconsciously affects preferences, the Neon team developed a Web-based software service that automatically selects the most visually appealing frame from a stream of video to be used as the thumbnail. Thumbnails — the entry point for a Web user to interact with a video — are becoming more important to video publishers as the number of online videos continues to increase.

Learn more.

New Computing Cluster Traces Lineage to Los Alamos Supercomputer

Parts of a decommissioned Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) supercomputer have found a new home at Carnegie Mellon, where the components are being reconfigured into a new computing cluster for use in education and research related to large-scale computer systems.

The new computing cluster, called Narwhal, is being built at CMU from 448 blade computers salvaged from Cerrillos, the smaller stablemate of what was once the world's fastest computer, Roadrunner. In 2008, Roadrunner became the first computer to break the petaflop barrier, performing more than one million billion calculations per second, or one petaflop.

Roadrunner and Cerrillos, both taken offline last year, shared an innovative hybrid architecture that harnessed two types of computer processors to greatly increase overall processing speed.

Narwhal will include 1,792 processor cores — a fraction of Cerrillos' 14,400 cores, which in turn was a fraction of Roadrunner's 122,400 cores. But Garth Gibson, professor of computer science and principal investigator for Narwhal, said the new CMU computing cluster will provide a unique and powerful resource for students and researchers.

"Working with Los Alamos National Laboratory over the last decade, CMU research has been able to contribute to innovative fault tolerance and parallel file systems at the largest scale," Gibson said.  "With Narwhal, we open a new front — assistance with large-scale computer systems software education. Roadrunner and Cerrillos may be retired, but even a sliver of these machines' core capabilities is more capable than most educational computing resources."

Learn more.

State Budget Includes Funding for PSC

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's budget for fiscal year 2015 includes $500,000 for the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).

"We are, of course, pleased and honored that the state has once again found PSC to be worthy of funding in this fiscally challenging year," said Ralph Roskies, scientific director for PSC. "We’re grateful to the members of the General Assembly, the Allegheny County delegation and especially the critical bipartisan support of senators Randy Vulakovich and Jay Costa and representatives Mark Mustio and Joe Markosek."

The state’s return on its past investments in PSC has been outstanding. Since the PSC’s inception, the center has brought over $500 million in outside funds into Pennsylvania, representing a 14:1 return on state funding for the PSC.

"An economic study has shown that PSC is responsible for generating 1,600 jobs and over $200 million in annual economic activity," said Cheryl Begandy, the PSC’s director of education, outreach and training. "In addition, our place on the leading edge of computing technologies at the largest scale enables us to respond quickly to technological developments, giving the state, its researchers and its small and mid-sized companies a leg up in capitalizing on these advances."

The PSC’s state funding goes toward science, technology, engineering and math education projects, outreach to serve small- and medium-sized Pennsylvania businesses’ computational needs, other workforce development projects and other operational activities.

Spots Available at the Cyert Center

The Cyert Center for Early Education has openings for 2014-2015 for children who will be 4 years old through kindergarten age by the end of September. The new program year begins Aug. 18, 2014, and ends Aug. 7, 2015. Please email or call 412-268-2149 for details.

Street Parking Rates Adjusted for July

The parking study being conducted by Tepper School of Business professors Mark Fichman and Stephen Spear have adjusted street parking rates adjacent to campus for July.

The rates are:

  • Frew Street, $1.25/hour;
  • Frew Street (5000 block, adjacent to Skibo Gym), $1/hour;
  • Margaret Morrison Street, $0.75/hour;
  • Schenley Drive (adjacent to the Tepper School), $0.50/hour; and
  • Tech Street, $1.50/hour.

Fichman, an associate professor of organizational behavior and theory, and Spear, a professor of economics, are measuring local street parking usage and seeking to optimize the parking resources by adjusting hourly rates to sustain an occupancy of approximately 80 percent during regular business periods. This establishes a reasonable level for revenue while allowing for intermittent parking availability throughout the business day.
The ongoing study will continue to evaluate parking usage and adjust rates on a regular basis. Learn more about the study.

Lower Hamerschlag Drive To Close for Scott Hall Steel Erection

The lower part of Hamerschlag Drive will be closed to all vehicular traffic from 6 a.m., Friday, July 25 through 6 p.m., Saturday, July 26 for the mobilization of a 300-ton, 300-foot-tall crane that will be used to erect the steel structure for Scott Hall.

There will be no access from Hamerschlag Drive to the Physical Plant Building, the Roberts Hall loading dock, the Gates High Bay and parking garage, and to the loading docks for Doherty and Wean halls. Permit holders in the Gates parking garage may use the East Campus Garage during this closure.

Carnegie Mellon Police along with Pittsburgh Police, paramedics and fire departments will have unrestricted access to lower Hamerschlag Drive through an emergency access temporary road from Frew Street through the Scott Hall construction site.

Summer Camps Offered

Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Athletics offers several summer sports camps for kids. Camps include boys and girls soccer and boys basketball. Also offered is a fitness camp for boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14.  For more information and to register your child, go to