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January 08, 2015

News Briefs

Mellon Foundation Grant To Support Graduate Education in the Humanities

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Carnegie Mellon a five-year, $2 million grant to use technology-enhanced learning (TEL) to transform and enhance graduate education in the humanities. With a well-established legacy of pioneering TEL and through its Simon Initiative, a strategic, university-wide commitment to use TEL to improve learning outcomes for all students, Carnegie Mellon is uniquely positioned to advance digital scholarship and TEL in the humanities.

"The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation cares deeply about the future of the humanities, and they realize that one way to keep the humanities vital is to bring them into contact with the digital tools being developed in other disciplines. As CMU is a leader in most things digital, and certainly a leader in technology-enhanced learning, we are a natural partner," said Richard Scheines, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The new grant will primarily involve the Dietrich College’s English, History, Modern Languages and Philosophy departments. All humanities Ph.D. students and interested faculty will be trained to take advantage of the benefits technology offers through intensive, weeklong summer courses aimed at providing basic literacy.

Learn more.

Shipbreakers Airs on WQED Saturday

Shipbreakers, a documentary co-produced by Entertainment Technology Center Assistant Professor Ralph Vituccio, cinematographer Tom Clancey, a former CMU staff member, and the late Carnegie Mellon Professor Paul Goodman, will be broadcast at 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10 on WQED-TV in Pittsburgh. 

Shipbreakers tells the story of 40,000 migrant workers in Alang, India, who make $1-$2 per day dismantling ships that are no longer seaworthy. They cut the ships apart by hand, working in extremely dangerous conditions and without any safety or labor regulations.

"This is one of the most dangerous industrial sites in the world — there are explosions all the time, people die, people are maimed," Vituccio said. "The ships are 20 stories high and several football fields long, and the men are wearing sandals, climbing up the ships on rope ladders and using chisels and hammers to break up propellers and other precious metals."

The award-winning documentary has been screened in several film festivals in the United States and abroad. Shipbreakers won the Best Feature Award in the Documentary Category at The World International Film Festival in San Francisco.

Learn more about the documentary.

Online Teams Influenced by Same Factors as Groups That Communicate in Person

Building on her groundbreaking research on "collective intelligence," a term she helped coin to describe a measure of the general effectiveness of a group on a wide range of tasks, Anita Woolley, assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at the Tepper School of Business, has conducted a new study that demonstrates the same key factors that influence the collective intelligence in face-to-face teams also apply to online groups. The study was published by PLOS ONE.

The study also mirrored findings from previous research that demonstrated collective intelligence was significantly correlated to the number of women in the group; a higher number of women raised the group's collective intelligence. There also is a negative correlation associated with the number of speaking turns by group members. Groups in which conversation was dominated by a few individuals scored lower in terms of collective intelligence, as opposed to groups with more vibrant discussions — whether these discussions took place in a room or online.

Learn more.

Healthy Campus Kickoff is Jan. 14

The Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation Department’s Healthy Campus Kickoff for 2015 is from noon – 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 14 in the CUC gymnasium, where the community is invited for a lunchtime walk. Fourteen laps of the CUC gym is one mile.

Also, the department is hosting a Fitness Open House from noon – 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16 in the CUC recreation spaces. Learn about the fitness equipment available and how to properly use them.

And don’t forget to sign up for the 2015 Fitness Challenge: Body under Construction. Challenge yourself: exercise for 20 minutes, four times per week from Jan. 26 through March 6.

Questions? Contact Pattye Stragar at

MechE Students Showcase Capstone Projects

Senior mechanical engineering students showcased socially-relevant product designs at the fall semester's Design Expo last month. The bi-annual event culminates a senior design course that is required of all mechanical engineering students at Carnegie Mellon.

During the course, the students followed a formal design process to explore ways to improve the well being of society. They performed detailed research, identified problems, and conceptualized and refined prototypes in preparation for their final capstone projects.

Projects included:

  • Waste water purification for under the kitchen sink to reduce drought;
  • Better, more comfortable crutches for improved stair climbing and prolonged use;
  • Faster and easier assembly of military cots for emergencies; and
  • Enabling planting and gardening for the elderly with an ergonomic seeder.

Learn more.

The SEI's Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014 

In 2014, the SEI blog experienced unprecedented growth, with visitors in record numbers learning more about the SEI's work in big data, secure coding for Android, malware analysis, Heartbleed and V Models for Testing. In 2014 (through Dec. 21), the SEI blog logged 129,000 visits, nearly double the entire 2013 yearly total of 66,757 visits.
The following are the top 10 most popular blog posts (based on the number of visits). When possible, the posts were grouped by research area to make it easier for readers to learn about related areas of work.

  • Using V Model for Testing
  • Two Secure Coding Tools for Analyzing Android Apps (secure coding)
  • Common Testing Problems: Pitfalls to Prevent and Navigate
  • Four Principles of Engineering Scalable, Big Data Systems (big data)
  • A New Approach to Prioritizing Malware Analysis
  • Secure Coding for the Android Platform (secure coding)
  • A Generalized Model for Automated DevOps (DevOps)
  • Writing Effective Yara Signatures to Identify Malware
  • An Introduction to DevOps (DevOps)
  • The Importance of Software Architecture in Big Data Systems (big data)

Learn more.

CMU Welcomes New Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Provider

GuidanceResources is Carnegie Mellon’s new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider.
The EAP is a CMU-sponsored program for employees and their families that provides support, resources and information for personal and work-life issues. The EAP can assist with everything from confidential counseling and legal support/resources to access to daycare locators and college planning specialists. All EAP services are confidential and provided at no cost to employees.

Learn more about the EAP.

McGinnis Venture Competition Deadline is Jan. 15

Registration for the McGinnis Venture Competition will close on Jan. 15. The McGinnis Venture Competition invites the university’s community of student entrepreneurs to develop and pitch their ideas to professional entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. All competitors receive crucial interaction with alumni entrepreneurs and an opportunity to raise capital and get valuable feedback on their ventures. Teams from all rounds enjoy access to exclusive networking events.

The competition is hosted by the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is open to all Carnegie Mellon undergraduate, master's degree and Ph.D. students.

Learn more about the competition.

Calling All Ph.D.s: 3MT @ CMU

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an internationally recognized competition that challenges Ph.D. students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes, in language that anyone can understand. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or "dumbing-down" research but requires students to consolidate their ideas, crystallize their research discoveries and capture the imagination of their audience.

CMU's 2015 3MT competition begins with qualifying rounds in February and March, followed by a championship round in April. Any currently enrolled CMU Ph.D. student is eligible to compete. To participate, register online by Jan. 31.

Qualifying round winners receive iPads or the equivalent value as a research/travel grant. Championship winners receive $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 research/travel grants.

Learn more about CMU's Three Minute Thesis competition.