Carnegie Mellon University

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CMU Community News

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January 15, 2020

News Briefs

CMU Couple Makes National News with “Baby Yoda”  

Briana and Sean McGowan’s first newborn baby came into the world with a splash at UPMC Magee Womens Hospital on Friday, Dec. 13. Jackson River McGowan made national news dressed up as one of Magee’s “Baby Yodas” in celebration of the release of the new Star Wars movie, “The Rise of Skywalker.” 

In a nursery full of babies wearing Baby Yoda outfits, Briana, Sean and Jackson were featured on “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” “Fox & Friends,” CNN, “Inside Edition” and ABC News, among other national outlets. Baby Yoda was introduced as a Star Wars character in the recent Disney+ release of “The Mandalorian.”

Sean said he and Briana are big Star Wars fans. They announced their pregnancy on Facebook at Disney World, where he was wearing a Star Wars shirt that read, “I am the Father” with a Darth Vader mask and Mickey ears. Jackson’s original due date was Dec. 20, the date of the movie release.

“Jackson became the real baby version of ‘Baby Yoda’ and I was jealous that he had more fame than me on the third day of his life than I’ve had in 30 years,” Sean said.

Briana is a donor relations specialist in University Advancement and Sean is assistant director of Employer Relations at the Career Center. Mother, father and baby are doing fine.

May the force be with them.

Strumming in the New Year

For the past five years, Carnegie Mellon has created new arrangements of "Auld Lang Syne" to honor the school's Scottish roots. This year, Madi Lippmann, a master's degree student in the School of Music, arranged the piece performed by graduate students Alyssa Hensley, Katelyn Croft and Caroline Haines and sophomore Alice Statham, all of whom study with Gretchen Van Hoesen, artist lecturer in Harp.

See previous arrangements.

99 Days to Buggy 100

Today (Jan. 9) is the 99th day until the 100th anniversary of one of Carnegie Mellon’s most celebrated traditions. Sweepstakes, better known as the Spring Carnival Buggy Races, will celebrate its centennial April 17-18, 2020. The CMU tradition is unlike any other.

Since the first Campus Week in 1920, when “chariots” were built to race around campus, student groups have been working year-round, using their engineering skills, design expertise and penchant for interdisciplinary collaboration to secretly build, modify and refine the most aerodynamic, torpedo-like vessel they call a “buggy.”

“Buggy doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a 100-year love of creation and collaboration,” said Olivia Keller, a senior chemical engineering major, pusher and chair of this year’s Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma teams. "It’s part of the CMU experience."

Learn more about this CMU tradition unlike any other.

Who’s New at CMU?

Carnegie Mellon welcomes the following new staff members.

  • Nicole Eichmeier , Temporary Employment Services;
  • Jennifer Beck, project manager, Campus Design and Facility Development;
  • Eli Bulger, research associate II, Neuroscience Institute;
  • Brittany Foster, academic coordinator, Heinz College;
  • Ryan Gordon, dispatcher, University Police;
  • Lydia Heyliger, assistant director, planning and delivery, programming for online programs, Tepper School;
  • Fabiana Licata, sales consultant, University Stores;
  • Jun Liu, research programmer/analyst, Robotics Institute;
  • Kyle Love, talent engagement adviser, SEI;
  • Lindsay Mapes, assistant softball coach, Athletics Department;
  • Jason Matuszewski, AV principal technician, Computing Services;
  • Sharon Mudd, senior cybersecurity operations researcher, SEI;
  • Richard Panzenbeck, AV senior technician, Computing Services;
  • Elizabeth Stark, early child educator, Cyert Center; and
  • Teraya White, academic & career adviser, Statistics & Data Science Department.

Learn Something New at University Libraries

Data visualization, gerrymandering and zine-making are some of the workshop topics at University Libraries this semester. The workshops, which are offered by the Libraries each semester, are designed to help attendees learn a new skill, deepen their understanding of a specific topic, or gain exposure to an unfamiliar technology, tool or technique.

Unless otherwise noted, all workshops are held in the Den at Sorrells Library, on the fourth floor of Wean Hall. Workshops are available at no charge and are open to Carnegie Mellon faculty, staff and students. Seating is limited and registration is required.

For a complete list of workshops and to register online, visit If you’re not able to attend a workshop, but would like to learn about the topic, please contact University Libraries. Librarians and subject specialists also are available to schedule additional workshops for classes, or facilitate one-on-one meetings.