Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University

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Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The university began as the Carnegie Technical Schools, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900. In 1912, the school became Carnegie Institute of Technology and began granting four-year degrees. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University. The university's 140-acre main campus is 3 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon has seven colleges and independent schools: the Carnegie Institute of Technology (engineering), College of Fine Arts, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mellon College of Science, Tepper School of Business, H. John Heinz III College and the School of Computer Science.

In 2010, the Wall Street JournalĀ ranked Carnegie Mellon 1st in computer science, 4th in finance, 7th in economics, 10th overall, and 21st in engineering according to job recruiters.

Honors: A Technology Powerhouse

Carnegie Mellon News

Carnegie Mellon University News

Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business has introduced a new part-time MBA degree for Pittsburgh-area professionals designed to provide more flexibility with a combination of online, evening and weekend study.

The Part-Time Flex MBA takes the place of the Part-Time On-Campus MBA previously offered by the Tepper School. The previous format required part-time students to attend three hours of evening classes at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus twice a week. The new flexible format will deliver core courses through a combination of intensive in-person weekend classes six times a year on campus and 75-minute classes twice a week that students can take from wherever they are-at work, at home, on the road-through an innovative online platform. Students will continue to be offered the choice to take electives in evening, daytime or online.

Like its on-campus predecessor, the Part-Time Flex MBA is a three-year program offering the same top-ranked curriculum and faculty as the Full-Time MBA as well as continued access to the same career resources and professional development opportunities.

"This is the MBA program designed for the future of Pittsburgh," said Kathryn Barraclough, head of the MBA program at the Tepper School. "Pittsburgh is rapidly evolving to become a leader in technology, health care and energy, and the Tepper School of Business is committed to help grow the technical and analytical skills of the local workforce to meet the demands necessary for continued growth."

Barraclough said the Part-Time Flex MBA is ideal for professionals with demanding schedules.

"We've heard from many of our part-time candidates, both current students and graduates, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to juggle various demands on their time-full-time jobs, business travel, raising young families-and coming to campus for three hours a night, twice a week is a challenging commitment to keep," she said. "The new Part-Time Flex program will give them the flexibility they need without sacrificing the existing high-quality Tepper experience."

Unique Professional Development Opportunity

Unlike a full-time student who tends to seek an MBA to change careers, many part-time students typically enroll in an MBA program to advance their career at their existing company.

A feature that sets the Tepper School apart from other part-time MBA programs is the Tepper Roadmap, a three-year personalized professional development plan that emphasizes self-discovery, leadership development, network building and career skills that complements the classroom experience to take a student's career to the next level. No other MBA program offers this opportunity.

"As busy working professionals, we find that our part-time students know where they want their career to go, but they need help creating and executing a plan for how to get there," said Kelly R. Wilson, executive director of Masters Admissions. "The Tepper Roadmap provides a framework for students to focus their efforts and the school's resources to advance their growth during and after the program."

"With the Tepper School's strengths at the intersection of business, technology and analytics — along with CMU's reputation for expertise and innovation across industries — companies know that our graduates are uniquely prepared to address the business challenges of the 21st century," said Sevin Yeltekin, senior associate dean of Education.

The Part-Time Flex MBA includes key coursework in business analytics, business technologies, management, finance, economics and communications. Students have the option of completing one or more concentrations or tracks that help them focus their coursework toward their career goals. In addition, students work with leadership coaches to create a personalized professional development plan to build their presentation, communication and leadership skills.

For qualifying candidates, the Tepper School will participate in a matching program for employer tuition reimbursement benefits and provide merit scholarships.

For more information about Part-Time Flex MBA, please visit https://www.cmu.edu/tepper/programs/mba/program-options/part-time-flex-pittsburgh/index.html.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018

Parrots are famously talkative and a Blue-fronted Amazon parrot named Moises — or at least its genome — is telling scientists volumes about the longevity and highly developed cognitive abilities that give parrots so much in common with humans.

And, perhaps someday, it will give up clues about how parrots learn to vocalize so well.

Morgan Wirthlin, a BrainHub postdoctoral fellow in Carnegie Mellon University's Computational Biology Department and first author of a report  to appear in the Dec. 17 issue of the journal Current Biology, said she and her colleagues sequenced the genome of the Blue-fronted Amazon and used it to perform the first comparative study of parrot genomes.

By comparing the Blue-fronted Amazon with 30 other long- and short-lived birds, including four additional parrot species, Wirthlin and colleagues at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and other entities were able to identify a suite of genes previously not known to play a role in longevity that deserve further study. Also, they identified genes that have previously been associated with longevity in fruit flies and worms.

"In many cases, this is the first time we've connected those genes to longevity in vertebrates," she said.

Wirthlin, who began the study while a Ph.D. student in behavioral neuroscience at OHSU, said parrots are known to live up to 90 years in captivity — a lifespan that would be equivalent to hundreds of years for humans. The genes associated with longevity include telomerase, responsible for DNA repair of telomeres — the ends of chromosomes, which are known to shorten with age. It appears that changes in DNA repair genes in long-lived birds, which potentially could turn cells malignant, appear to be balanced with changes in genes that control cell proliferation and cancer.

The researchers also discovered changes in gene regulatory regions of the genome that appear to be specific to parrots that were situated near genes associated with neural development. Those same genes also are linked with cognitive abilities in humans, suggesting that both humans and parrots evolved similar methods for developing higher cognitive abilities.

"Unfortunately, we didn't find as many speech-related changes as I had hoped," said Wirthlin, whose research is focused on the evolution of vocal behaviors, including speech. Animals that learn songs or speech are relatively rare — parrots, hummingbirds, songbirds, whales, dolphins, seals and bats — which makes them particularly interesting to scientists such as Wirthlin who hope to gain a better understanding of how humans evolved this capacity.

"If you're just analyzing genes, you hit the end of the road pretty quickly," she said. That's because learned speech behaviors are thought to be more of a function of gene regulation, than of changes in genes themselves. Doing comparative studies of these "non-coding" regulatory regions, she added, is difficult, but she and Andreas Pfenning, assistant professor of computational biology, are working on the computational and experimental techniques that may someday reveal more of their secrets.

This work was supported through the Brazilian Avian Genome Consortium and by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018

Carnegie Mellon University has named Jonathan Cagan, the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering, interim dean of the College of Engineering. He will assume the duties of interim dean on Jan. 1, 2019, when current dean, James H. Garrett Jr., begins his tenure as provost.

The announcement was made by CMU President Farnam Jahanian, after consultation with Garrett and Interim Provost Laurie R. Weingart.

"Jon is the ideal person to step into this role," Jahanian said. "With almost 30 years of experience at CMU, he brings extraordinary passion and expertise to this position, as well as a legacy of leadership to the College of Engineering that has enhanced its research and education mission."

Cagan currently serves as associate dean for graduate and faculty affairs and chief academic officer of the College of Engineering. Among other efforts, he co-led the strategic plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and its implementation, including the formation of the new dual Ph.D. partnership with Howard University; developed a new integrated master's program with Computer Science; and oversaw the revision of core faculty and student policies.

He also has served as associate dean for strategic initiatives where, in part, he focused on enhancing Carnegie Mellon's campus in Silicon Valley. Cagan also co-led the 2013 strategic planning process for the College of Engineering, helping to set the stage for new college initiatives.

Cagan started as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CMU in 1990 after completing his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His personal research interests are in engineering design automation and methods — merging AI, machine learning and optimization methods with cognitive science problem solving. He co-founded and co-directed the Integrated Innovation Institute and two of its programs as an outgrowth of his teaching and research in design methodology and practice. Cagan is the epitome of advanced collaboration, having worked with engineers, psychologists, neuro-scientists, marketers, designers and architects in his work.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018

Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Steve Davis was on a camping trip with his son when a fire broke out in his home. His wife and two youngest children got out safely, but the family was out of the house for nine months while the damage was repaired.

Following that incident, Davis, who graduated from the Tepper School of Business in 1989, considered ways to improve fire safety. From 2009-2013, smoke alarms did not sound in 47 percent of home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.

"Materials that people design, decorate and build with go up in flames a lot faster than they did 30 to 40 years ago," Davis said. "The time to get out has decreased significantly."

Earlier this year, Davis launched Smoke Detective, a platform technology that enables cameras to detect smoke particles in the air. The company is working with manufacturers of camera-enabled smart devices - such as security systems and baby monitors - to implement a software solution that augments traditional home smoke alarms.

Davis' career is in institutional real estate. After graduation, he worked for several years at Westinghouse Credit before leaving to work for himself - a career shift that enables him to devote time to develop Smoke Detective.

"I was very interested in entrepreneurship and always have been," Davis said. "CMU was integral in spurring and furthering my interest in entrepreneurship."

He retains a relationship with L. Frank Demmler, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, with whom Davis took every class he could to learn how to start and run a business.

Smoke Detective was born five years ago, when Davis met Gustavo Rohde, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at CMU at the time. Davis explained his idea to use smartphone cameras as smoke detectors. Rohde, now Smoke Detective's chief technical officer, brought on Carnegie Mellon biological sciences professor Frederick Lanni, and the team began working on an iPhone app.

"We think we can make a real, lasting impact on fire safety," Davis said. "To have a software solution that solves what has historically been a hardware problem is going to be beneficial to the market. It will be less expensive, easier to monitor, and - based on our testing - is quicker than traditional smoke monitoring systems."

The company offers the app for free, and plans to license the technology to security companies and other smart home technology producers.

"Our dream is to have the platform technology so that anybody who has a device with a camera and a chip in it will use our software to enable that device to become a monitor for smoke," Davis said.

Smoke Detective will participate as a 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Smart Homes session of CES, an annual conference on technological innovations produced by the Consumer Technology Association. Davis sees the progress of the Internet of Things and smart devices as a natural growth opportunity for Smoke Detective.

"There are countless devices that people are rolling out that have cameras," he said. He hopes to outfit every home security system, connected appliance and smartphone with their technology.

"The team really feels strongly that we can do good and do well," Davis said. "We can hopefully make the world a little bit safer."

Thu, 06 Dec 2018

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say it may be time to start investing in electric semi-trailer trucks.

In their new paper, "Quantifying the Economic Case for Electric Semi-Trucks," published in ACS Energy Letters, CMU Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Venkat Viswanathan and Ph.D. student Shashank Sripad compare the cost of traditional diesel semi-trucks to electrically powered ones. The research was conducted, in part, at Carnegie Mellon's Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation where Viswanathan is an energy fellow. Their work examines the point at which electric semi-trucks become more cost-effective than diesel trucks.

Viswanathan and Sripad's research demonstrates that the initial cost to invest in these electric semi-trucks may be worth paying. In addition to reducing the transportation sector's greenhouse gas emissions, switching to electric semi-trucks would have a strong economic case under a set of achievable targets. While a few unfavorable scenarios do not allow a meaningful payback period, in favorable scenarios, the period is around three years or lower. 

"When the Tesla semi-truck was announced, it was important to understand how far it could go and what types of payload it could carry," Viswanathan said. "We decided to use the framework we had previously developed for electric commercial vehicles and apply it to semi-trucks."

In their paper, the authors examine the initial investment and the operating cost of a fleet of electric semi-trucks that can travel 500 miles compared with a fleet of diesel semi-trucks. Electric trucks have a lower operational cost because they have increased energy efficiency for mobility along with a comparable or lower cost per unit of electricity compared to diesel. However, the initial price of the lithium-ion battery pack used to power the trucks gives some investors pause.

"In spite of those initial concerns, there seems to be an economic case for transitioning to electric semi-trucks," Sripad said. "However, to ensure favorable economics, certain, important aspects like the low-battery pack cost, high cycle life and low electricity price need to be ensured."

Ultimately, the paper suggests various targets to be met to help with the transition to electric semi-trucks. First, the vehicle design should be optimized to reduce the battery pack size and meet the payload requirements of about 38,000 pounds. Second, the pack price should be reduced to less than $150 per kilowatt hour to encourage people to invest in electric semi-trucks. Third, a cost of electricity below $0.20 per kilowatt hour with a peak power of over 500kW per truck would ensure a fast re-charging without incurring a loss of valuable time. Finally, the battery pack cycle life will have to be improved so that the trucks will require fewer battery pack replacements over their lifetime.

Viswanathan and Sripad's previous research on electric semi-trucks has been widely viewed and cited. Their paper titled "Performance Metrics Required of Next-Generation Batteries to Make a Practical Electric Semi Truck" is the American Chemical Society Energy Letters' most read article of 2017. Real Engineering featured their research in a YouTube video that has garnered over two million views. 

MIT Technology Review and The Drive highlighted their work on "Evaluating the Potential of Platooning in Lowering the Required Performance Metrics of Li-Ion Batteries to Enable Practical Electric Semi-Trucks."

Thu, 06 Dec 2018

It's the Christmas season, which means that beloved Bible verses are being read and recited innumerable times — and in a vast number of languages. The Bible's global reach as evidenced this time of year has enabled a Carnegie Mellon University professor to create a language resource that could enhance communication in hundreds of languages.

By tapping online text and audio recordings of the New Testament in more than 700 languages, Alan Black, a professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute, has created a dataset that can be used to build text-to-speech computer systems and other modern speech technologies for so-called low-resource languages. These languages, such as Kaqchikel in central Guatemala, Lun Bawang of Malaysia and Indonesia, and Mamprusi in northern Ghana, often are spoken by relatively small groups of people and generally lack the kind of technological tools for recognizing or translating language that are routinely available for high-resource languages such as English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.

Black said it generally isn't profitable to build such systems — or often even basic tools such as dictionaries or pronunciation guides — for low-resource languages. But that never mattered to Christian missionaries, he added.

"They don't care about commercial aspects," Black explained. "They care about the Word." In many cases, what few resources exist for these languages are the work of missionaries. "I suspect that for some of these languages these are the only written texts that exist."

Black was able to tap one of those evangelical resources — an online service called Bible.is that provides recordings of the New Testament in more than a thousand languages — to create what he calls the CMU Wilderness Multilingual Speech Dataset. This dataset, available for free download online via GitHub, includes audio, word pronunciations and other tools necessary to build text-to-speech systems.

From Bible.is, Black downloaded recordings of more than 700 languages for which both audio and text were available. That represents about 10 percent of the world's languages, he noted.

"They are languages that missionaries would care about," Black said, including those spoken in areas such as Central and South America, West and East Africa, and Southeast Asia.

He then set about aligning the text with the audio, determining which words in the text corresponded with spoken words. By so doing, he was able to establish pronunciation rules that make it possible to vocalize any word in that language, not just those included in the Bible.

To make those alignments, Black and his CMU students were aided by the similar spelling and pronunciations across languages of three Hebrew names — Jesus, David and Abraham — and the first verse of the Book of Matthew: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

"I now probably know that first sentence in Matthew better than anyone else," Black added.

A computer program that makes a best guess at pronunciation helps create an initial alignment of text and audio. This first attempt often is incomprehensible, Black noted, but a machine learning program then analyzes the alignment and fine-tunes it.

Thus far, he and his students have completed alignments for 600 of the languages and hope to finish the remaining, more troublesome languages soon. In some cases, poor quality recordings, misidentified languages and unrecognizable writing systems have thwarted their efforts.

Development of the dataset was an outgrowth of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program called Lorelei, which sought ways to develop speech recognition tools for low-resource languages within a matter of hours or days. Such tools would be useful, for instance, in responding to epidemic outbreaks or other humanitarian crises.

Rather than build such tools on demand, which requires intensive work, Black worked to identify existing resources, such as Bible.is, that could be tapped to create these tools inexpensively in advance. He and his students have demonstrated that tools such as a speech synthesizer can indeed be created using the Wilderness dataset.

Tools for processing and translating speech are particularly important for low-resource languages because many of their speakers are illiterate, Black explained.

The dataset also should be useful for linguists, he added, noting it makes it possible to do studies of how languages vary across the planet. For instance, the dataset includes about 100 languages from the Amazon basin, enabling studies of how words are formed and how they relate to words in other languages.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018

While women make up just 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, Carnegie Mellon University and its Information Networking Institute is closing the gender gap one student at a time.

Carolina Zarate, an elite hacker and aspiring security professional, is attending Carnegie Mellon through a partnership between the INI and the Executive Women's Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy, sponsored by Alta Associates. This fall, she became the 11th recipient of the full-tuition EWF INI Fellowship, which was established in 2007 to support a graduate student from a historically underrepresented population.

“Our partnership with EWF has been crucial in affording remarkable women and underrepresented minorities with the opportunity to study information security,” said Dena Haritos Tsamitis, the Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking and director of the INI. “We are committed to developing the next generation of women leaders and cultivating a culture of ‘paying it forward’ to lift future scholars toward success.”

At the 16th Annual EWF National Conference on Oct. 23-25, Zarate was recognized and celebrated alongside the 10 previous recipients, many of whom are now working at major companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Palo Alto Networks, Red Hat and Ernst & Young.

“If you can identify security vulnerabilities that are exploitable, and tell the company how you did it — that means you’re hacking for good reason: to protect people.” — Carolina Zarate

“We are proud to partner with Carnegie Mellon’s INI in not only providing scholarships for remarkably talented students, but also including them in the EWF community where they are nurtured, supported, mentored and sponsored,” said Joyce Brocaglia, founder of EWF and CEO of Alta Associates. “Our EWF members are generous with their knowledge and their time, so not only are students receiving an outstanding education, they are gaining access to the leading women in our industry who guide them through their careers.”

Zarate earned her undergraduate degree in computer science at Carnegie Mellon in 2018 and, through the INI’s integrated master’s degree program, seized the opportunity to obtain her master’s degree in one year rather than two.

“Hacking competitions called capture-the-flags (CTFs) are what got me into security,” Zarate said. “Security is such a diverse field. There’s so much to learn, and even then, it’s constantly changing and evolving, so there’s always something new and interesting to learn from.”

Zarate is a member of CMU’s internationally acclaimed competitive hacking team, the Plaid Parliament of Pwning (PPP), and helped PPP win their fourth title at the DefCon security conference in 2017, a feat achieved by no other team in the contest’s 22-year history.

Her message to parents of kids interested in hacking: embrace it.

“They can be a good hacker who does not do bad things, and they will get paid very well for that,” she said. “If you can identify security vulnerabilities that are exploitable, and tell the company how you did it — that means you’re hacking for good reason: to protect people.”

At the EWF Conference, Zarate was accompanied by fellow INI classmates Casey Means and Teri Wen, recipients of the Joyce Brocaglia EWF Endowed Fellowship.

Means aspires to work for a privacy-centric company that helps consumers secure their data, and Wen wants to work on finding security holes that no one has discovered and fix them before an attack is possible. Both students say the INI will help them develop the skills and knowledge needed to accomplish those dreams.

Founded in 2002, the EWF is the largest member organization serving emerging leaders and influential female executives in the security, risk management and privacy field. In addition to financial assistance, the fellows gain access to the EWF community of mentors who have reached executive levels in their careers.

“The fellowship means an incredible amount to me,” Zarate said. “Being able to be part of EWF is humbling, and I am very thankful for this opportunity. I hope to exchange much knowledge with other women in the field of security.”

Wed, 05 Dec 2018

Internationally renowned researcher Anne Skaja Robinson has joined Carnegie Mellon University as head of its Department of Chemical Engineering.
 
Robinson comes from Tulane University, where she was chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering since 2012. She succeeds Lorenz Biegler, who served as the department head for five years.
 
Robinson’s lab has two main goals: to understand the disease mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and to improve the production of biopharmaceuticals on an industrial scale.
 
When it comes to pharmaceuticals, half of today’s top selling biopharmaceutical drugs are antibody drugs, like Humira, used in immunotherapy to stimulate a patient’s immune system to attack invasive cells.
 
However, industry faces challenges in producing these biopharmaceuticals which, are made by cells (rather than small molecules like aspirin). Many finished batches of biopharmaceuticals are thrown out, at a very high cost, due to complications that ruin the batch somewhere along the process, but can’t be detected until the final failed drug is produced.
 
Robinson’s lab is developing methods of making the industrial manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals more robust. In addition to biopharmaceuticals, Robinson’s lab studies neurodegenerative diseases.
 
Alzheimer’s disease, for example, accounts for the majority of patients diagnosed with neurodegeneration.
 
There are two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease that show up in the brain: aggregates, or plaques of a peptide called A-beta, and those of a protein called tau. Robinson’s lab is looking at tau proteins, which become aggregated or “scrambled” when the brain becomes afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
 
From a very basic standpoint, to cook an egg, one would apply heat in order to change the structure of the proteins in the egg. The albumen, or the clear part of an egg, changes from clear to white, distinctly changing its flavor and texture to serve a new function.
“In the human body, the tau protein also undergoes this ‘scrambling’ reaction,” Robinson said. “When tau proteins change structure, the brain’s cells can no longer function as they are meant to. Unfortunately, you can’t unscramble the egg — or the tau protein.”
 
Robinson’s lab looks at how and when the tau proteins go awry to try to understand the turning point. By identifying what causes the brain’s tau proteins to malfunction, Robinson hopes to develop preventative measures and future treatments for those afflicted with neurodegenerative diseases.
 
In joining Carnegie Mellon, Robinson said she looks forward to collaborating across the College of Engineering and the university at large to solve these problems.
 
“One of the strengths of Carnegie Mellon is its focus on innovation, and the technology it develops from interdisciplinary collaborations,” Robinson said. “There are so many strengths around the university that my lab and the department as a whole can leverage, and the collegiality among all of our faculty has me excited to get started.”
 
Robinson received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. at Johns Hopkins University. She has received national accolades, including the NSF Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) Award, the ACS BIOT Perlman Award, the AIChE SBE Biotechnology Progress Award for Excellence in Biological Engineering Publication, and election as an AIChE Fellow.
Wed, 05 Dec 2018

For the second consecutive year, Carnegie Mellon University students illuminated the dark corridors and winding passageways of a limestone mine with art installations, musical performances and costumed movement.

"SubSurface: Site-Specific Sight & Sound,” a one-hour interdisciplinary festival, drew about 250 attendees Saturday to the inactive mine in Brady’s Bend, Armstrong County. The mine is estimated to be twice the size of the world’s largest building.


CMU students illuminated the darkness of a limestone mine in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

The festival is a collaboration among students and faculty from CMU's College of Fine Arts, School of Computer Science, the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs and Integrative Design, Arts and Technology (IDeATe) Network.

Students from Scott Andrew’s Activated Anmorphs class added an interactive element to this year’s festival. Their movement-based performance and costumes reflected aspects of underground lifeforms or objects, such as angler fish, fossils and bats. The Activated Anamorphs moved in character to the music performed by IDeATe’s Exploded Ensemble and the musical group Bombici. The musicians, in turn, improvised in response to the movements. Students from Concept Studio: Space and Time also contributed inflatable, projected, shadow-based and mobile artworks.

“It’s about creating a surreal experience for a viewer that could maybe catapult them into another way of thinking,” said Andrew, a multimedia artist and adjunct professor in CMU’s School of Art. “It’s something that takes people out of their day-to-day life and gives them an exciting experience.”

Jesse Stiles, co-organizer and an assistant professor at CMU's School of Music and IDeATe, said the limestone mine is a place where students can reinvent their landscape and themselves — altering how they sound and appear. The space also challenges students to rethink performance spaces and how music is presented.

“For students, the real educational value is that they are literally rethinking everything because there’s no infrastructure there for them,” Stiles said. “You have to rethink sound and articulation of sound. That’s a great musical exercise.”

Tue, 04 Dec 2018

Melody Herzfeld continues to reap the benefits as the recipient of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award (EITEA) at the 2018 Tony Awards.  

As part of her prize, Herzfeld, drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hosted Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Professor Don Wadsworth and CMU alumna Chante Adams, who presented a master class to Herzfeld’s students in mid-November.

It was the first time a master class was offered to an EITEA winner’s school.

About 50 students took part in the two-day master class, in which Wadsworth presented interactive instruction on such topics as dialect, Shakespeare and how to prepare for auditions.

Adams, a 2016 CMU graduate who starred in the Netflix original film “Roxanne Roxanne,” provided her perspective on the importance of arts education and answered students’ questions about her path from high school to CMU to professional actor. A native of Detroit, Adams was a student of the 2016 EITEA recipient, Marilyn McCormick.

“This was a wonderful experience, and I’m grateful to Carnegie Mellon and the Tony Awards for all that they’ve done for me, as the 2018 winner, and for my students,” Herzfeld said. “Having this class allows them to see that the things they learn here can take them on to the next step in their education and in their careers. I think it really helps to prepare the serious students for what comes next.”

The master class came at a time when Herzfeld’s students were preparing for a drama competition in Florida. Many students shared their planned auditions with Wadsworth and Adams, who offered constructive criticism aimed at helping the students fine-tune their performances.

“They’re amazing,” Wadsworth said. “It’s terrific to see how much they care about their work. The arts have become an outlet for young people to express themselves, at a time in our world when they truly need that outlet.”

Adams, who will serve as a primary ambassador for this year’s EITEA, traveled from the West Coast to be part of the class experience.

“It was such an honor working with the students,” she said. “I absolutely loved being there!”

As a Carnegie Mellon ambassador, Adams will help to promote the EITEA submission process, encouraging people to recognize a theater arts teacher who has positively influenced their lives — whether they have gone on to pursue study or a career in the entertainment industry.

“I was a student at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, and Ms. McCormick was a huge influence on me. She introduced me to Carnegie Mellon, and she was the first person I told about getting the lead role in ‘Roxanne Roxanne,’” Adams said. “Through the EITEA, people can thank the teacher who helped them, and it’s a wonderful way to highlight their hard work.”

In addition to the award that will be presented at the Tony Awards in New York City in June 2019, the EITEA winner receives a cash grant for his/her theater program, tickets, travel and accommodations to the Tonys, the CMU master class and two scholarships for students of their choice to attend CMU’s School of Drama Summer Pre-college Program in 2020.

“It has been an amazing experience,” Herzfeld said. “I have shared this award and its benefits with so many people, especially my students. It means so much to me that a former student, Monica Andrews, submitted my name. To know that I played a role in shaping her future is so powerful, so meaningful. That’s what teaching is all about.”

Through the partnership with the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon, the Excellence in Theatre Education Award was created to help recognize a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who embodies the highest standards of the profession and demonstrates a positive impact on the lives of students, advancement of the theatre profession and a commitment to excellence. The winner is announced at the annual Tony Awards ceremony in New York. The 2019 Tony Awards will be held Sunday, June 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018