1/29/10

Green Power


Carnegie Mellon ranks No. 41 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Top 50 List of green power purchasers. The list includes an array of organizations from Fortune 500 companies, to local, state and federal governments, to colleges and universities.

As for how we stack up against our own kind, Carnegie Mellon ranks second on the EPA’s top 20 college and university list.

Each year, the university purchases nearly 87 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power. That’s comparable to the amount of electricity needed to power more than 8,000 average American homes per year. Or the equivalent of avoiding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 12,000 passenger vehicles per year. It’s also enough green power to meet 75 certificates (RECs) from Community Energy.

This increased purchase also qualifies Carnegie Mellon for the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club, a distinction given to organizations that have significantly exceeded the EPA’s minimum purchase requirements.

Find out more about Carnegie Mellon’s commitment to protecting our environment, and learn about some of our accomplishments in wind power, green buildings, and clean water.

1/25/10

Crossing Academic Boundaries

Once again, Carnegie Mellon proves to be a truly interdisciplinary place.

Usually given to economists and social policy experts, Jessie B. Ramey (HS ’91, ’03, ’09) won the National Academy of Social Insurance’s (NASI) John Heinz Dissertation Award for her work as a historian.

Ramey’s dissertation -- “A Childcare Crisis: Poor Black and White Families and Orphanages in Pittsburgh, 1878-1929” -- examines the role of orphanages as vehicles of child care. She looked at how orphanages affect everything from the family and social welfare to gender and religion.

Honored for her unique perspective, Ramey thinks it speaks volumes of Carnegie Mellon’s excellence in interdisciplinary education.

For more read the release or visit the Department of History’s website.

1/14/10

Wire Less


We live in a wireless world. Yet we’re not completely wire-free. Eventually batteries run low and we’re forced to plug in for power.

But what if we didn’t have to reach for the wires to recharge?

According to College of Engineering alum Eric Giler (E’77), the reality of wirelessly charging technology is just around the corner.

Giler – who’s the CEO of WiTricity Corp – is developing safe, efficient, wireless electric power. In layman’s terms that’s the ability to transfer power over a distanced without relying on wires.

Using magnetic resonance, WiTricity’s technology can transfer energy a full room’s distance. So conceivably your cell phone could be charging in your pocket as you relax in your den. The applications are endless.

Giler and his wife, Kim (HS’78) have been generously committed to Carnegie Mellon, supporting students through the Giler Family Scholarship as part of the Holleran Scholarship Challenge, as well establishing the Giler Humanities Lecture Series.

1/7/10

A New Approach to Resolutions

It’s a new year and for many that means new resolutions. Making the list of self improvements is easy – the hard part is sticking to them.

In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article three social and decision science professors at Carnegie Mellon explain why most people go wrong when they rely on their “willpower” – the strength and determination to keep impulses and actions in check.

Professors George Loewenstein, Carey Morewedge and Golnaz Tabibnia found that the most common New Year’s resolutions involve more than willpower – they tap the “habit system” part of the brain. The habit system encompasses any learned skill.

It’s slow to develop, but once it does, it’s even more difficult to overcome. For most of our resolutions – say, losing 10 pounds – it’s as much about breaking a bad habit (poor food choices) as it is sticking to a new plan.

Three psychological tendencies make it even harder – read more about them in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

The good news?

New Year’s resolutions aren’t a lost cause once you understand how your brain handles the changes. According to Loewenstein, Morewedge and Tabibnia, there are several tactics you can use.

Instead of quitting a bad habit cold turkey or starting a new one full-force, try setting small, achievable goals for yourself. Also, your social group is influential, so consider surrounding yourself with a supportive network. Finally, altering your environment can both alleviate temptation and supply motivation.

Happy New Year!