Monday, August 30, 2010

Carnegie Mellon Startup Company to Create Robotic Components and Systems Based on Technology from CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center

Carnegie Mellon University announced the launch of a new firm, Carnegie Robotics LLC, which will develop, manufacture and service robotic components and systems in partnership with the university’s highly successful National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).

Carnegie Robotics will create products based upon technology licensed from the NREC, an arm of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute that performs applied research and prototype development for industrial and government organizations. John Bares (pictured), director of the NREC since 1997, has taken a leave of absence from the university to lead the startup company. Anthony Stentz, who has served as associate director since 1997, will take over leadership of the NREC.

“NREC is a tremendous success story; it has experienced robust growth for more than a decade,” said Mark S. Kamlet, Carnegie Mellon executive vice president and provost. “By turning NREC’s innovations into commercial products, Carnegie Robotics will further strengthen NREC while expanding the robotics industry in western Pennsylvania.”

Bares said Carnegie Robotics will initially concentrate on producing extremely reliable components that other manufacturers can use to automate machines used in such fields as mining, agriculture, petroleum production and defense. But as the company develops its own production expertise, plans call for manufacturing and servicing entire robotic systems. Both the company and NREC might also benefit from jointly marketing their services, he added.

“NREC has become the ‘go to’ organization for performing applied research and prototype development for field robots,” Stentz said. “But now when we deliver a prototype, NREC customers increasingly want to know who can convert the prototype to a manufacturable product, as well as support and service the product over its lifetime. By addressing this production need, NREC will occupy a more competitive position and realize continued growth.”

The company has leased space within the NREC facility, a renovated foundry in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh about three miles from the Carnegie Mellon campus.

“Carnegie is a storied industrial name, particularly here in western Pennsylvania,” said Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute. “I know John and his team will work hard to build a company that lives up to the Carnegie name and that will help this region retain more of the talented roboticists and engineers who are trained here.”

The NREC opened in 1996 as an operating unit within the Robotics Institute. The brainchild of William “Red” Whittaker, the Fredkin University Professor of Robotics and director of the Field Robotics Center, the NREC has focused on developing commercial applications of mobile robots for such companies as John Deere, Shell Oil, Caterpillar and Consol Energy.

The NREC has developed a number of unmanned ground vehicles and autonomous systems for the Defense Department, ranging from a virtual 3D video system for enhanced teleoperation of vehicles to advanced large robotic vehicles, such as Crusher and the Autonomous Platform Demonstrator. NREC researchers are developing robots for sorting strawberry plants and, in a U.S. Department of Agriculture project, applying robotic technology to the operation of orange groves. A commercially sustainable branch of the NREC develops research-based K-12 educational content used by millions of students in formal and informal educational settings across the world. The NREC continues to push into new markets and recently began work on SensaBot, an inspection robot for offshore petroleum production facilities.

Sponsored research at the NREC increased from $16.9 million in fiscal year 2005 to $24.8 million in fiscal year 2010; during the same five-year period, industry-sponsored research increased from $853,000 to $8.7 million. The center, which now employs 120 people, is in the process of expanding its Lawrenceville facility.

“As NREC director it was clear to me that for many mobile robot applications, the technology is now matured enough to sustain a robust products business,” Bares said. “We believe NREC, Carnegie Robotics and western Pennsylvania are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.”

The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GlobalPittsburgh Coordinates Education Partnership Aimed at Increasing International Student Enrollment and Retention in Greater Pittsburgh Region

GlobalPittsburgh has formed a consortium of colleges, universities and other organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh Region with the goal of increasing international student enrollment and retention by 10 percent in the next five years.

Study Pittsburgh! is the marketing theme of the GlobalPittsburgh Education Partnership (GPEP), which is a new initiative of GlobalPittsburgh, a non-profit organization that for 50-plus years has hosted international visitors through the U.S. Department of State and other agencies. In 2010, GlobalPittsburgh embarked on this initiative to increase international student enrollment in the Greater Pittsburgh Region by 10 percent in the next five years.

The Study Pittsburgh! campaign reaches around the world attracting international and globally-minded students to study at one of the many top-notch accredited institutions and English Language programs in the Greater Pittsburgh Region.

The campaign also has the effect of building the Pittsburgh brand to a universal audience as a desirable, highly livable city, a center for innovation and entrepreneurship, and an education and cultural hub. It also will connect with students when they are attending school in the Region.

Increasing the number of international students in the Region has many positive benefits. For universities it means higher enrollment numbers, often at full tuition, greater on-campus diversity as a positive recruiting tool, an expanding global alumni network, and greater visibility in a worldwide and increasingly competitive education market.

In economic terms, international students make a significant positive impact, contributing an estimated $2.6 million to the regional economy for every 100 international students enrolled at regional colleges and universities, according to the Institute for International Education.

Known as the GlobalPittsburgh Education Partnership (GPEP), the consortium currently includes 17 participants and is expected to continue growing, according to Roger O. Cranville, President of GlobalPittsburgh, which creates programs for international delegations through the U.S. Department of State and brings together the region’s international communities.

“We’ve had a great response to the program thus far, and we hope to include additional educational institutions and interested organizations in the very near future,” Cranville said. “We plan to use GlobalPittsburgh’s resources to raise the visibility of the region’s outstanding educational opportunities around the world, and also to help engage incoming students and their families once they arrive in the region.”

Partner institutions currently include:
Carlow University
Chatham University
Community College of Allegheny County
Duquesne University
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
La Roche College
Penn State – Beaver
Penn State – Greater Allegheny
Penn State – New Kensington
Point Park University
Robert Morris University
University of Pittsburgh English Language Institute
University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business
Washington and Jefferson College
West Virginia University
West Liberty University

Participation in the GPEP also provides access for students to the GlobalPittsburgh CONNECT program, which helps international students, professionals and families settle into the community by offering more than 30 activities per year, including orientations, networking events, hospitality dinners with American hosts and other services.

“Through our existing international connections, including U.S. and foreign embassies and consulates around the world, we have already begun to promote the Pittsburgh region’s broad spectrum of educational programs,” Cranville said. “Our GPEP partners already have had numerous opportunities to meet with high-level international officials interested in connecting with the Pittsburgh region.”

In recent weeks, GPEP participants have met with several government delegations, including ambassadors from Vietnam and the Republic of Georgia, and from Lagos, Nigeria, the second largest city in Africa. Coordinated by GlobalPittsburgh, these meetings have led to serious discussions about admissions opportunities and educational partnerships in such areas as faculty training and transfer programs.

About 7,000 international students are currently enrolled in colleges and universities in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, according to the Institute for International Education in Washington, D.C. Eighty percent of those students are enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, creating opportunities for growth at the other 25-plus institutions in the region.

“The CONNECT program provides a wonderful addition to support on our campuses for international students by providing integration with the larger community,” said Dr. Sabine C. Klahr, Assistant Vice President for International Affairs at Chatham University.

“This partnership will provide valuable resources and connections for regional higher education institutions for recruiting international students, developing cooperation with institutions across the world, and expanding our global footprint,” she said. “This will also assist institutions to develop ties to business and organizations that will help us expand our international dimension and provide services and programs to audiences beyond students.”

Curtiss E. Porter, PhD., Chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport, said his ongoing relationship with GlobalPittsburgh enhances the university’s goal to be an international campus.

“We are committed to student success, global citizenship and engagement in the region, the commonwealth, in our nation and through our international partnerships,” Dr. Porter said. “Like all of the Penn State campuses in the Greater Pittsburgh area, we appreciate our partnership with GlobalPittsburgh. We are happy to be part of a University-Community partnership that will make life better for all."

Michael Wilhelm, Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at WVU, said “My colleagues and I at the Office of International Students and Scholars at West Virginia University are proud to have the chance to participate in an organization like GPEP. Not only will it help spread the word about WVU to prospective students around the globe, but the Connect program will allow the 1,500 international students currently at WVU to interact with even more students from their home countries who are also studying in the region.

About GlobalPittsburgh
For more than 50 years, GlobalPittsburgh, formerly known as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, has forged relationships between the Greater Pittsburgh Region and the global community through citizen diplomacy – connecting people and institutions in the region with audiences around the world through a wide range of hosting, training, networking, educational and outreach programs and services.

GlobalPittsburgh engages international delegations, groups and individuals by creating itineraries and facilitating introductions through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and other international programming agencies in many fields, including energy and environment, life sciences and medicine, education, business and technology, clean/green design, advanced manufacturing, arts and culture, government and finance, social services and law, and other areas.

GlobalPittsburgh welcomes individuals and families to engage in citizen diplomacy as dinner and homestay hosts, tour guides, office and event volunteers, and greeters for visiting delegations and individuals.

For more information about GlobalPittsburgh, go to or contact Thomas Buell, Jr., GlobalPittsburgh VP-Communications, at 412-392-4513 or 412-720-2218, or by email at

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Former U.S. Ambassador to United Kingdom Philip Lader to Speak Sept. 20 on Value of Global Connections

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Philip Lader will speak in Pittsburgh on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 from Noon to 2 p.m. at the Rivers Club in One Oxford Center, Downtown.

Hosted by the British-American Business Council, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and GlobalPittsburgh, Ambassador Lader will engage in discussion on the topic of "The 'Special Relationship' in a Globalized World."

Lader is chairman of WPP Plc, the world's largest advertising/marketing services company (including J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Gray, Hill & Knowlton, and Burson-Marsteller, with 140,000 people in 107 countries).

Lader also is a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley, vice chairman of Rand Corp., a director of Marathon Oil, AES and Rusal corporations, and a partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins. He previously served in President Clinton's cabinet and was White House deputy chief of staff, assistant to the president, deputy director of the Office of Management & Budget, and administrator of the Small Business Administration and was executive vice president of Sir James Goldsmith's holdings (including America's largest private landholdings) and president of Sea Pines Co. and universities in Australia and South Carolina. He has served on the boards of Lloyd's of London, the British Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, the American Red Cross, and several private-equity portfolio companies.

He is an honorary fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford University, and London Business School and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of the Smithsonian Institution and the Atlantic Council. Educated at Duke, Michigan, Oxford and Harvard Law School, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by 14 universities and the 2001 Benjamin Franklin Medal by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for his contributions to trans-Atlantic relations.

Tickets for the Sept. 20 luncheon are $50 per person or $400 for a table of eight. Seating is limited. Reservations can be made online at or by calling Pat Fustich at 412-246-4142.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pitt’s Global Studies Program Receives $1.5 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Education to Expand Programs

The University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Program (GSP) within the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) recently received its first-time designation as a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education, which includes a $1.5 million Title VI grant to expand programs and services over four years.

GSP, established in 2001, fosters interdisciplinary, comparative, and cross-cultural learning and research on critical global issues within the areas of the economy, health, security, and society. GSP currently grants undergraduate and graduate certificates and, in cooperation with the University Honors College, offers the Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies degree.

The federal funding supports such GSP initiatives as:

* Increasing opportunities for scholarship through research and conference support for 40 global studies scholars and cosponsorship of four major conferences on global issues;
* Expanding interdisciplinary course offerings in global health and the addition of global content to at least 20 courses, including 12 in Pitt’s professional schools;
* Opportunities for the advanced study of less commonly taught languages, specifically Turkish, Swahili, and Persian (Farsi);
* Developing a new global-studies-themed historical library collection at Pitt that’s accessible to the public;
* Offering both graduate and undergraduate Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian (Farsi), Portuguese, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu;
* Global studies and language pedagogy training via professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and postsecondary faculty; and
* Increasing global content in two targeted school districts serving a combined K-12 student population of approximately 27,000.

For more information about the Global Studies Program, go to

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall Activities Announced for GlobalPittsburgh CONNECT - Outdoor Adventures, Orientations and Hospitality Dinners

The GlobalPittsburgh CONNECT Fall program includes a wide range of activities ranging from field trips and museum visits to holiday dinners and group picnics.

The activities are open to members of the GlobalPittsburgh CONNECT program and the GlobalPittsburgh Network, including international students, newly arrived professionals and families, hosts and other globally minded indvidiuals. Individual fees are $40 per year. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP WITH AN ELECTRONIC AND/OR PRINTABLE REGISTRATION FORM!

Most events take place on weekends. Transportation will be coordinated by GlobalPittsburgh, when necessary. Discounted ticket prices are available to some activities requiring entrance fees. See below for detailed list of activities.

Saturday, 28 August:
Picnic in Schenley Park with Latin American Cultural Union
Schenley Park Oval
1:00PM – 6:00PM
Bring a dish to share. Enjoy a day out in one of Pittsburgh’s city parks with Pittsburgh’s Latin American community. There will be games, piƱata for children, music, and dancing.

Saturday, 4 September:
Walking tour of South Side with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation
Learn about Pittsburgh’s historic South Side.
3:00PM- 4:30PM
Limited to 20 people – First come, first served basis.

Saturday, 25 September, or Sunday, 26 September
Visit one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed works. The key to the setting of the house is the waterfall over which the house is built. Falling water exemplifies Wright’s concept of organic architecture and nature.

Saturday, 2 October
Heinz History Center
Learn about the history of Pittsburgh, immigrants to Pittsburgh, Heinz Ketchup and more.

Saturday, 23 October
Fall Farm Festival
Hay Ride and Pumpkin picking
Possible added activity-Jack-O-Lantern carving to get ready for the Halloween holiday.

Saturday, 6 November
Frick Art and Historical Center
Visit Henry Clay Frick’s Victorian mansion and the art museum, car & carriage museum, and greenhouse at the Frick Art and Historical center.

Saturday, 20 November
Victorian Horse Drawn Candlelight Carriage Parade
View more than 40 lighted vintage carriages; 250+ horses including magnificent Clydesdales and miniature horses; set to holiday music with costumed attendants and celebrity riders.

Thursday, 25 November
Celebrate Thanksgiving Day with dinners in the homes of American host families.
Internationals will be able to join American hosts for the unique opportunity to join American families, their relatives, and friends for this special holiday meal.

Saturday, 4 December
Celebration of Lights
Visit the fantastic display of holiday lights and decorations at the Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights.

Saturday, 11 December
To Be Announced- (Last activity before December Holidays)

December 18 , 2010 through January 2, 2011
Holiday dinners with American host families.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

GlobalPittsburgh Leading Regional Push to Promote Citizen Diplomacy, Encouraging All to Help Improve International Relations "One Handshake at a Time"

GlobalPittsburgh is taking an active role in a national movement to promote citizen diplomacy in an effort to dramatically increase the number of people in the Pittsburgh region who are actively engaged in efforts to strengthen America’s international relationships.

Students, professionals and all members of the Greater Pittsburgh Community are invited to become members of the GlobalPittsburgh Network. Memberships make great gifts for graduates and job-seekers, too!

Member benefits include:
- Regular Activities with Other Internationals and Community Members
- Networking Events
- Discounts on Goods & Services
- Invitations to Programs & Events
- Homestay & Hospitality Dinners with Local Families
- Hosting Opportunities for Local Residents
- Free & Discounted Tickets to Local Cultural Events & Shows
- Connections with International Employers
- Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
- Meet Incoming International Delegations

Membership in GlobalPittsburgh is a great way for internationals and globally minded residents to participate in fun activities, to meet new people, to become more globally connected and to support GlobalPittsburgh's efforts to build international awareness in the Greater Pittsburgh Region.

Individual membership fees are $40 per year; family memberships are $50 per year. JOIN TODAY!

Successfully building global awareness and understanding among people of all ages will create better opportunities for growth and success for the entire Pittsburgh region and for the United States, said Roger Cranville, Chairman and President of GlobalPittsburgh.

"We see great benefits in encouraging all the people of the Greater Pittsburgh region to become more globally engaged through education and study abroad programs, business connections, international volunteer service, tourism, community-based initiatives, and exchanges in the arts and humanities," he said.

By becoming a citizen diplomat through GlobalPittsburgh, people of the Pittsburgh region can participate in a variety of programs and services, including:

- Hosting international visitors in your home
- Introducing your family to world cultures
- Greeting delegations from your homeland
- Making internationals feel welcome
- Free and discounted tickets to cultural events
- Helping grow Pittsburgh's international diversity
- Participating in year-round activities
- Be part of the GlobalPittsburgh Network
- Receive invitations to global events

CLICK HERE for an electronic and/or printable registration form.

Formerly known as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, GlobalPittsburgh strives to attract, engage and retain internationals and globally minded people in the Pittsburgh region. Its programs and services benefit the region by making positive connections and encouraging successful partnerships between companies, organizations and individuals that lead to increased international awareness and understanding, and a wide variety of economic benefits.

What is Citizen Diplomacy?

Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations "one handshake at a time," according to the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists. They are motivated by a responsibility to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.

Who are Citizen Diplomats?

Citizen diplomats...

* Have a desire to be engaged with people around the world
* Appreciate views other than their own
* Are non-judgmental regarding cultural differences
* Demonstrate respect for people of all nationalities
* Collaborate with individuals from diverse cultures to solve problems
* Effectively interact and communicate across cultures
* Strive to understand and communicate in the language of others
* Interact effectively with others both inside and outside of American borders.
* Have open minds and natural curiosity
* Have friendly and positive attitudes
* Are good listeners
* Have the ability to put themselves in another’s place
* Have a general understanding of international relations and world economics
* Have knowledge of other cultures

Why is citizen diplomacy so important now?

In an era of increasing globalization, more and more people develop their most lasting impressions through face-to-face, personal encounters, when people visit the United States or when Americans travel abroad. In this context, the ‘citizen diplomat’ is a powerful force in defining the United States to the rest of the world.

What is the difference between Citizen Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy?

Citizen Diplomacy is the engagement of individual American citizens in primarily voluntary, private sector programs and activities that increase cross-cultural understanding and knowledge between Americans and people from other countries, leading to greater mutual understanding and respect. Public Diplomacy is conducted through specific activities and programs carried out under the auspices of the federal government that promote positive and credible perceptions of the U.S. generally, and of U.S. foreign policy specifically.
In today's global society, the two are interconnected.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smart Grid Research Center at CMU to Bring More Energy-Efficient Systems & Technologies to Market

Carnegie Mellon University will host a new Smart Grid Research Center as part of a $5 million industry-academic partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world’s leading university-industry research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies.

The new partnership, called the Energy Research Initiative (ERI), will team energy-related companies with university researchers to address the world’s need for smart alternative energy sources and equip students with the technical skills required for the new burgeoning industry.

The ERI, managed by the SRC subsidiary The Energy Research Corp. (TERC), will initially address two critical areas for efficient generation and distribution of renewable energy resources: photovoltaics and systems engineering and technologies to enable and optimize smart grids. CMU researchers will focus on the latter, as the “Smart Grid Research Center” will be housed at Carnegie Mellon.

Pradeep K. Khosla, University Professor and dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering, said the new initiative is designed to develop reliable, affordable, secure, clean and efficient energy systems and help provide students with the expertise and skills needed to move these new technologies into the marketplace.

“The Smart Grid Research Center at Carnegie Mellon will support the incorporation of renewable energy resources and provide modeling, simulation and control tools needed to manage, optimize and secure the power grid,” said Ed Schlesinger, head of CMU’s top-ranked Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Marija Ilic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and engineering and public policy at CMU and director of the university’s Electric Energy Systems Group, will be the director of the Smart Grid Research Center.

Ilic said the Smart Grid Center is driven by the vision that it is critical to transform today’s operating and planning industry practices to serve much more complex objectives than in the past.

“Smart Grids are needed to enhance sustainability, which is a careful tradeoff between reliability (lights staying on), short-and-long term efficiency (cost of electricity), greenhouse gas emissions reduction (a cleaner world), and financially sound innovation and deployment of unconventional technologies that will help create employment opportunities,” Ilic said. “For these objectives to co-exist, it is critical to engage in multidisciplinary engineering systems of smart grids.”

According to Ilic, instead of relying on worst-case designs, much can be achieved by transforming electricity service into just-in-time (JIT) and just-in-place (JIP) services.

Ilic also reports that a smart grid could eliminate some of the widespread problems like blackouts that have plagued many of the nation’s aging systems and caused economic hardship for users.

“There’s a lot of talk about upgrading equipment, but what we really need is to upgrade other things, like computer programs and communications that make it all work,” Ilic said. “The timing is right since utilities are pursuing major pilot projects to deploy sensor and measurement technologies necessary to implement new types of electricity services.”

Carnegie Mellon researchers are already working toward Dynamic Monitoring and Decision Systems (DYMONDS) as a means of embedding increased intelligence into different component groups and their interactions with system operators.

“The Smart Grid Research Center is dedicated to galvanizing the role of soft technologies for sustainable energy services and continued progress will require close collaboration between industry, government and academia,” Ilic said.

Mark S. Kamlet, executive vice president and university provost, said the industry-university partnership is another outstanding example of Carnegie Mellon’s innovative drive to help develop technologies and systems to improve industry sector operations and meet the demands of increasingly energy conscious consumers.

“The pervasive use of simulation in semiconductor process development, device design and system analysis has been called a critical factor in the success of the electronics industry,” said SRC Executive Vice President Steven Hillenius. “Similar capabilities do not exist for technologies in support of solar-powered systems. Likewise, today’s smart grid simulation capabilities are also limited, and new transformational approaches are required to enable significant integration of renewable energy resources into the grid.”

Research will be undertaken by a global network of companies partnering with Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Grid Research Center. Industry members will dedicate engineering and other resources and participate in the selection of appropriate research projects. Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Grid Research Center founding members from industry include ABB, Bosch, IBM and Nexans.


Pictured above is Marija Ilic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and engineering and public policy at CMU and director of the university’s Electric Energy Systems Group. Ilic will be the director of the Smart Grid Research Center.