Carnegie Mellon University

Faculty PROBE projects

Project Olympusolympus logo

Faculty are welcome to create their own PROBE (PRoblem-Oriented Business Explorations) projects. Browse below to see the list of current faculty PROBEs at Project Olympus. A key goal is to augment and accelerate the process of moving basic research and great ideas to development and business stages, with licensing, spin-offs, start-ups and corporate collaboration and partnering.

Carnegie Cadets logo

Carnegie Cadets

An online game for internet security aimed at children. Developed by the Information Networking Institute, the game has been available on the internet for years and has been played by millions of children, parents and teachers around the globe. Carnegie Cadets is part of CMU’s MySecureCyberspace initiative to raise cyber awareness among internet users of all ages through its portal, games and curriculum.


Dena Haritos Tsamitis, Ph.D., Information Networking Institute

Casey Droege Productions logo

Casey Droege Cultural Productions

Relevant and accessible contemporary art experiences.

A cultural vanguard creating a vibrant arts commonwealth through innovative and captivating programs. Flagship programs (SIX x ATE, CSA PGH, Bus tours and exhibits) are devoted to connecting diverse people and diverse thought for the development of a thriving contemporary art economy and rich cultural landscape in Pittsburgh.

Casey Droege, Founder and Director | Adjunct Faculty in the School of Art
Christina Lee, Administrative Assistant and Design Lead | School of Art, BFA 2014
Swaroop Akkineni, Programming Intern

DataSquid logo


DataSquid helps users gain new insights on their data by enabling them to slice, sift, stack and pivot through data naturally with their fingers on a tablet.


Niki Kittur, Faculty, HCII
Jeff Rzeszotarski, Ph.D. candidate, HCI    

Duolingo logo


An online social platform that teaches users languages for free while they simultaneously translate content across the web. Duolingo was founded in 2011 and funded by Union Square Ventures and A-Grade Investments. The company launched after six months in private beta. As of today, Duolingo has more than 200,000 active users and is growing rapidly. So far, Duolingo has translated more than 75 million sentences.

Web | Facebook | Twitter

Luis von Ahn, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Severin Hacker, Ph.D. candidate School of Computer Science 
Antonio Navas, M.A. SCS
Jose Fuentes
Vicky Cheun, SCS 2010
Marcel Uckerma, 
Brendan Meeder, Ph.D candidate School of Computer Science

Enzium logo


A CMU startup out of specializing in the development of enzyme activity reagents for applications in pharmaceutical drug screening, pharmaceutical manufacturing QC/QA, and medical in vitro diagnostics. Enzium currently offers custom and off-the-shelf protease activity detection kits and is exploring gastrointestinal diagnostic applications with leading physicians and pathologists. Enzium has received funding from BioAdvance, CMU’s Don Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, Idea Foundry, CMU GAP funds and the i6 program.

Crystal Falco, Co-founder and CEO
Peter Berget, Ph.D., Co-founder, inventor and expert molecular biologist, now at University of the Sciences

Expii logo

Expii, Inc.

The Interactive Wikipedia

Expii, Inc. makes it easy for you to create and rate interactive lessons that simulate one-on-one tutor experiences. Think rapid-fire Q&A, video and more. Expii is crowd-sourcing a one-stop destination for the internet's most lively educational content.

Web | Facebook | Twitter

Po-Shen Loh, CEO | Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences

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Expression Blast

New experimental methods for collecting high throughput data are revolutionizing biology and clinical studies and are now routinely used for pre-clinical drug discovery. Several large public and proprietary databases collect these types of data, however this data is largely unstructured and is difficult to utilize. Expression Blast has developed a search engine for genomic data aimed at pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, academic institutes and medical centers, allowing them to utilize large volumes of condition-specific data from public repositories, and also integrate it with proprietary, in-house data. The project has received funding as part of the i6 program through CMU and the NSF I-Corps program.


Ziv Bar-Joseph, Ph.D., Computational Biology
Guy Zinman, Ph.D., Computational Biology


Graphics in the Cloud

A project that intends to play a foundational role in next-generation gaming technologies. By exploiting graphics parallelism in the cloud, Prof. Treuille and his team are enabling revolutionary speedups in graphics computation to create a new generation of games. This shift to cloud computing is part of a general trend in an array of business, scientific and engineering applications toward exploiting the economies of scale inherent in this distributed technology.

Adrien Treuille, Ph.D., Computer Science
Doyub Kim, Post-doctoral Fellow, Computer Science
Tadas Zolynas, B.S., Economics
TJ Hinton | CFA 2014, E 2013, 2015
Rachelle Palchesko | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biomedical Engineering
Andrew Hudson | E 2014, 2015

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Lean FM

A project that means a lifecycle software solution for economic, proactive and intelligent facilities management. Every year, operating the 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. costs $700 billion. The efficiency of facilities management (FM) is low due to the complexity of buildings and limited access to information. By leveraging Building Information Modeling (BIM) and cloud computing technology, Lean FM addresses this challenge by integrating the heterogeneous building information that is recorded in design drawings, equipment manuals, building automation systems and computerized maintenance management systems. Lean FM has received funding from CMU through its GAP and i6 programs.

Burcu Akinci, Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering
Xuesong (Pine) Liu, Ph.D. student

Spring 2016

LumiShield logo

LumiShield Technologies

Providing Sustainable, Cost-effective Coating Solutions for Industry

LumiShield is a process and materials development company that will create disruptive change in the $6 billion anti-corrosion coatings market through commercialization of its proprietary aluminum electroplating technology.

Web | Facebook | Twitter

David Luebke, Ph.D., CEO, Founder | Special Faculty, Department of Chemistry
Hunaid Nulwala, Ph.D., CTO, Founder | Assistant Research Professor, Department of Chemistry
Brett Luebke, MBA, COO, Founder | Transmission Maintenance Center Supervisor, Georgia Power

Marinus Analytics logo

Marinus Analytics

Empowering law enforcement

Marinus develops and deploys technologies to the hands of law enforcement, advancing their ability to fight crimes like human trafficking, using machine learning and big data technology.


Emily Kennedy, Founder, CEO
Cara Jones, Founder
Artur Dubrawski, Founder

Millee logo


Stands for Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies. Formal schooling is beyond reach for many children in the developing world due to child labor. In rural India, for example, over 43 percent of school-age children cannot attend school regularly as they work for the family in agricultural fields or households. As a delivery platform, cellphones enable children with work commitments to access quality educational resources anytime, anywhere. This is possible as cellphone penetration is fast increasing in developing regions. The MILLEE project aims to enhance access to literacy among children of school-going age in the developing world using cellphone-based educational games. These games draw on language learning principles and the traditional village games that are culturally familiar to rural children.


Matthew Kam, Ph.D. Human-Computer Interaction
Indrani Vedula, Project Manager in India

neonlabs logo


Solving the problem of optimizing online video thumbnails to promote click through rates. Neonlabs is commercializing technology developed by neuroscience post-doc, Sophie Lebrecht, who has indentified the neural mechanisms connecting visual perception to choice and decision making. The project has received funding as part of the i6 program Innovation Works University Innovation Grant program, and the NSF I-Corps.


Michael Tarr, Ph.D., Co-director, Center for Neural Basis of Cognition
Sophie Lebrecht, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow

PECA Labs logo


A medical device development company focused on bringing new solutions to underserved populations. Through strong university and clinical collaboration and special regulatory exemptions, PECA Labs expects to bring new cardiovascular technologies to pediatrics for a fraction of the cost of the average life-saving medical device. Based on current clinical data, PECA expects its first product, The Masa Valve, to save thousands of children every year from undergoing two open heart surgeries.


Kerem Pekkan, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering
Masahiro Yoshida, MD, Ph.D.
Doug Bernstein, BS, Biomedical Engineering

Platypus logo


Provides water monitoring services at very low cost by utilizing small, low cost robotic boats designed to work autonomously to perform tasks that are cost prohibitive for larger, manned boats. Platypus boats can be used by a diverse range of organizations from fish farms to measure oxygen levels and temperature to water authorities and the EPA to measure river depth and pollution discharges.


Paul Scerri, Ph.D., Robotics

PNA Innovations

PNA Innovations

Biotech startup company that is commercializing technology created in the labs of co-founders Danith Ly and Bruce Armitage from the CMU Chemistry Department. The core technology, gammaPNA, is unique in its ability to recognize specific DNA and RNA targets, forming the basis for a wide variety of applications in biotechnology, biomedical research, diagnostics, drug discovery and therapeutics. Beginning in Fall 2012, PNA Innovations will offer custom synthesis of gammaPNA reagents for academic and industrial clients while continuing to develop new intellectual property through its own research program.

Bruce Armitage, Ph.D., Chemistry
Danith Ly, Ph.D., Chemistry

QuantMD logo


We are a health care company dedicated to diagnosing coronary heart disease (CHD) at the earliest stage through a proprietary imaging service. We provide high quality quantitative analysis of cardiac structure, function and perfusion from contrast enhanced cardiac imaging, identifying early signs of heart disease long before the patient experiences a myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack. (Founded 2011)

Web | Contact Us

Prahlad Menon,  Founder and CEO | Ph.D candidate E 2013
Mark Doyle, Co-inventor of core IP,  product development and clinical trials
Robert W. Biederman, Primary Clinical Collaborator

Recaptcha logo


Service is a user-dialogue system originally developed by Luis von Ahn, Ben Maurer, Colin McMillen, David Abraham and Manuel Blum at Carnegie Mellon University. It uses the CAPTCHA interface, of asking users to enter words seen in distorted text images onscreen, to help digitize the text of books, while protecting websites from bots attempting to access restricted areas.


Manuel Blum, Professor of Computer Science
Luis von Ahn, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Ben Maurer, SCS 2009
Colin McMillen
David Abraham


Safaba logo

Safaba Translation Solutions

Provider of automated language translation and localization solutions to the world’s leading global enterprises. With its unique approach to machine translation, Safaba helps its clients enhance their global customers' experience and boost local and global brand value. This is accomplished by transforming the growing volumes of corporate content at the velocity dictated by global markets while maintaining message integrity and value.

Website | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Alon Lavie, Ph.D., Computer Science
Bob Olszewski, Ph.D., Computer Science
Udi Hershkovich




Enables publishers and content providers to create discussion communities around digital documents. The Salon system encourages communities of interest  from fan fiction enthusiast to mechanical engineers — not only to coalesce around, discuss and analyze web content, but to use the data generated by their contributions in dynamic ways.


Ananda Gunawardena (Guna), Ph.D., Computer Science
David Kaufer, Ph.D., English
Dev Doshi, B.S., Computer Science


Sketch It, Make It (SIMI)

A completely new kind of design tool based on sketch recognition. SIMI turns the designer's drawing into a machinable schematic that can be laser cut  all without the need to learn and use complicated CAD software. SIMI has received an NSF I-Corps award.


Mark Gross, Architecture
Gabe Johnson, Ph.D., Architecture

SpiralGen logo


Provides high performance software solutions for performance-critical computing functions used in signal processing, wireless and scientific computing. SpiralGen can provide software that is highly optimized for desired target processors from mobile platforms to supercomputers. These solutions enable application developers to take optimal advantage of current multicore platforms and to port applications faster to new, more capable platforms.


Franz Franchetti, Ph.D., CTO and Co-founder, Electrical and Computer Engineering
José Moura, President and Co-founder, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Markus Püschel, Co-founder, now at ETH Zurich
James Hoe, Co-founder, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mike Franusich, Principal Engineer



Aims to provide the world with sustainable healthy working, living and learning environments by eradicating the toxins that infiltrate such structures, creating an ergonomic environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving the earth’s resources and landscape. Terradime intends to be the world’s leader in designing and developing green structures  all aimed at improving an occupants living, working and learning environments throughout the world.

Azizan Abdul-Aziz, Architecture
George J. Mongell, Founder and CEO, graduate of Heinz College

The Optimization Firm logo

The Optimization Firm

The Optimization Firm develops innovative software for decision making. In partnership with the GAMS Corporation (Washington, D.C.) and Paragon Decision Technologies (Netherlands), the company provides commercial versions of the BARON software that was originally developed in Professor Nick Sahinidis’ academic research laboratory. The company performs cutting edge research at the interface between computer science and operations research. Dozens of chemical, energy and automotive companies, banks and financial institutions worldwide rely on the company’s software to optimize their operations. Prof. Sahinidis intends to grow The Optimization Firm beyond its roots in consulting to a software product and services company.

Website | Campus Website

Nicholas Sahinidis, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering