A Unique Major

Ever wonder what a bagpiping degree entails?

Well, at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Music – where the world’s first bagpiping degree was instituted in 1990 – the major incorporates studio performance with the history and culture of bagpiping.

This year, Nick Hudson (A’09) graduated from Carnegie Mellon, armed with a degree in bagpiping. He’s only the third to graduate since the program was established – and the only bagpiping graduate in the nation this year.

Catch Hudson on NBC’s Today Show on Monday, June 1 or watch him explain a few bagpiping basics on Carnegie Mellon’s YouTube channel.


Hats Off to the Graduates

Per usual, the bagpipers were a-piping as the graduates processed onto the field to mark the beginning of Carnegie Mellon's 112th Commencement ceremony.

This year the grads were joined by keynote speaker Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board and CEO of Google Inc. During his speech, Schmidt touched on the opportunities this generation of graduates will have as a result of new technologies - many of which were invented by Carnegie Mellon people.

He also encouraged the new grads to throw out their life plan and take advantage of opportunities as they arise, stating that "you cannot plan innovation; you cannot plan invention. All you can do is try very hard to be in the right place and be ready."

And there's no doubt that this year's graduates are already on their way to becoming some of the greatest innovators of all time.

Schmidt was also one of five people to receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. The other recipients were Thomas Detre, M.D., Keith Lockhart (MFA'83), Phylicia Rashad and Harold Shapiro.

President Cohon and student speaker Allison Lukacsy (A'09) also left a few inspirational words for the class of 2009.

And Scotty made her Commencement debut, scurrying onto the field to cheer on the graduates. After comedian and canine enthusiast Bill Cosby spoke at Commencement in 2007, he was inspired to give the university its first live mascot.

Be sure to check out a GigaPan image of the event. Don't forget to zoom-in, tag yourself and share your story. You can also watch our Commencement 2009 playlist on YouTube or download Schmidt's speech on iTunes U.


Little Brother

What does a propaganda-spitting robot have to tell us about activism and the art of subversion?

Ask Carnegie Mellon alumnus and professor Richard Pell, who developed "Little Brother" -- a robot that distributes subversive literature to the public.

The professor of art combines engineering, science and activism to spark dialogue on contemporary issues, and his works have been exhibited worldwide.

Pell's current project is to create the world's first comprehensive map of genetically modified flora and fauna in order to raise awareness of genetic modification.

To support this project, Pell received a 2009 Creative Capital Award to form a new Center for Post-Natural Studies and a new media fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, which recognizes the most relevant and talented artists in the U.S.

And Pell's not the only one at Carnegie Mellon being recognized of his work at the intersection of arts and technology. Golan Levin , associate professor in the School of Art and Grisha Coleman, a fellow in the Studio for Creative Inquiry were also recipients of the Creative Capital Award.


Randy's Legacy Lives On

It’s almost been a year since the beloved Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch passed away. Yet his legacy is still shining bright. From a walk-on in Star Trek – which we wrote about last week – to “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Randy’s impact endures.

On May 12, "Oprah" will feature a segment on Randy, which will include an interview with his wife, Jai Pausch. Randy first appeared on “Oprah” with Dr. Mehmet Oz in October 2007 where he inspired viewers with an abbreviated version of his “Last Lecture.”

Now, as Dr. Oz gets ready to host his own show, Oprah is preparing a fitting sendoff – an episode dedicated to his most memorable moments. The May 12 show will highlight some of Dr. Oz’s interviews with inspirational people. And Randy is being showcased as one of the heroes who continues to inspire Dr. Oz today.

In the Pittsburgh region, you can catch “Oprah” at 4 p.m. daily on WTAE-TV.

** UPDATE: Jai told viewers on Tuesday that she and the kids are doing a lot better after having some time to grieve. And they’re keeping Randy’s legacy alive by doing things they know he would have loved – like taking a family trip to Walt Disney World.



Ever wonder who got more face time: Captain Kirk or Spock? We know it wasn’t Chekov…

PittPatt – a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon – has an answer. The company’s “Face Mining” technology can detect Captain Kirk’s face from the front and slightly tilted. Soon, it will be able to detect faces from other angles. It then records every scene featuring Kirk and let’s a user navigate all three seasons of Star Trek by not only a favorite episode (the Trouble with Tribbles anyone?) but also a favorite character.

The implications of this technology for other uses – such as security monitoring – are huge.

Face Mining works by combining the algorithms used in face detection, face tracking and face recognition to extract all visible face tracks and group images of the same person together.

PittPatt – Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition – is operated by alumni Henry Schneiderman (E’90, CS’00), Michael Nechyba (CS’98) and Michael Sipe (E’99).