Mentions

2024

June


Bockstaller speaks about developments in plastics recycling
American Recycler

MSE’s Michael Bockstaller spoke with American Recycler about his lab’s research into improving plastic recycling by addressing complications due to the pastics’ chemistry. “‘Recycling’ as sub-category to the broader theme of ‘sustainable polymer engineering’ has become the topic of national academic center-scale research efforts and focus of industrial efforts,” he said. “My group is pursuing yet another strategy: the development of polymers that can ‘heal’ themselves,” Bockstaller said. “The idea is to design materials that can recover their structure and properties after damage events—thus reducing the amount of material that is discarded due to malfunction.”


Pistorius weighs in on a new, green method of producing steel
Canary Media

MSE’s Chris Pistorius spoke with Canary Media about a new method of preparing iron using electricity rather than with fossil fuels. This method is being developed by Form Energy, which is also trying to develop batteries that store clean energy using similar technology. “[The method is] efficient both from the point of view of energy use and cost,” Pistorius said. But Form Energy may run into challenges when it comes to making their method cheap due to the cost of electricity. “The main electricity consumption is breaking the bonds between iron and oxygen. That’s a fixed baseline that you can’t get below.”


Three MSE faculty win Scott Institute grants
Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation

MSE’s Mohammad Islam, Mohadeseh Taheri-Mousavi, and Paul Salvador have received seed grants from Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. These grants support cutting-edge research in sustainable energy solutions, and these faculty members are three of seven university-wide awardees who are together being granted almost $400,000.


Sioshansi speaks about the risks to the electric grid during heat waves
Marketplace

EPP’s Ramteen Sioshansi spoke with Marketplace as electricity demand soars in the summer, and the strain may challenge electric grids, with less-prepared grids possibly even facing a shortage. He said that the challenges facing electric grids are changing as the extreme heat creates more risks to generating electricity. “Thirty years ago, was they were looking at, OK, on occasion, you know, a handful of the generators are going to fail,” but now they’re more likely to be knocked out.


Combemale comments on the effects of tariffs on Chinese-made semiconductors
Marketplace

The Biden administration has set tariffs on semiconductor parts made in China in order to create more semiconductor engineering jobs in the United States, though some experts are doubtful that the tariffs will have that effect. EPP’s Christophe Combemale said that “we don’t actually have a good sense of who’s available” to fill jobs in the currently-tight market, and that the industry should do more work to recruit new workers from places like engineering schools, other industries, and abroad.


Koopman discusses GM’s robotaxi tests in Phoenix
The Associated Press

ECE’s Phil Koopman spoke with the Associated Press about the robotaxi testing by GM’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit, which will begin in Phoenix, Arizona. These tests had begun in San Francisco, but were suspended after safety concerns and issues. According to Koopman, Phoenix was a good place for Cruise to restart its tests due to wider roads and fewer regulations. “Good for them for being conservative,” he said. “I think that in their position, it’s a smart move.”


Wahby quoted on cryptocurrency companies and technologies pioneered by professors
BNN Bloomberg

ECE’s Riad Wahby spoke with BNN Bloomberg about cryptocurrency technology developed from academics’ research. Two cryptocurrency startups founded by academics have recently received millions of dollars in funding from venture capitalists as interest in “professor coins” increases. These companies, founded by Sreeram Kannan of the University of Washington and David Tse of Stanford University, use technology that utilizes Etherium or Bitcoin’s security infrastructure. Wahby weighed in on the interest, saying this technology, called restaking, is “coming out of research from David and Sreeram. They’ve thought about a lot of these kinds of restaking technologies. I mean, that’s sort of their baby, so it kind of makes sense. And I think more and more of this technology is going to come from research.”


Koopman comments on Tesla’s Autopilot recall
BNN Bloomberg

ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted in BNN Bloomberg about two probes launched by the National Traffic Safety Administration into several companies creating driverless-car technologies to see how these systems have been performing and if they will need to be more stringently regulated. In the case of Tesla’s driver-assistance system Autopilot, it is “plausible” that the administration will find it unsatisfactory and demand that it is deactivated, says Koopman. “Tesla dug this hole themselves and now they have to deal with it.”


Kurchin discusses research retractions and blame
MIT Technology Review

MSE’s Rachel Kurchin spoke with the MIT Technology Review concerning a number of retractions made by physics journals. Kurchin commented on the question of who should be blamed for the problematic articles that are published.


Koopman discusses Tesla lawsuits and safety concerns
Fast Company

ECE’s Phil Koopman spoke with Fast Company about Tesla’s recent settlement involving a deadly crash involving their autopilot feature. “For a while Tesla was winning all the lawsuits. But given the recent settlement we might see other pressure from pending lawsuits for Tesla and other self-driving or robotaxi companies to up their safety game,” Koopman stated.


Koopman quoted on Tesla safety issues
Daily Mail

ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted by Daily Mail about an incident in which a Tesla owner nearly drove into a moving train while using Tesla’s Full Self-Driving mode. “People are dying due to misplaced confidence in Tesla Autopilot capabilities. Even simple steps could improve safety,” Koopman said.


Samaras quoted on Colorado’s transportation system
The New York Times

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras was quoted by the New York Times on Colorado’s decision to cease the expansion of highways in an effort to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Samaras discussed, “the scale of the challenge to getting a net-zero transportation system,” would be huge taking into consideration both the resources needed and accommodating the day-to-day transportation needs of the general public.


May


Rajkumar comments on the climate benefits of self-driving trucks
Scientific American

ECE’s Raj Rajkumar spoke with Scientific American about how self-driving trucks can be programmed to travel routes that save fuel.


Presto quoted on inequality of air pollution exposure
The Guardian

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted by the Guardian on how people of color are historically more likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution. “People of color are more likely to be living near an industrial area or highway, and therefore have higher exposure.


Jaramillo comments on the US exporting natural gas
Public Source

EPP’s Paulina Jaramillo spoke with Public Source about how natural gas is not the solution to the climate crisis. Jaramillo claims that “getting rid of coal and reducing all your other fossil fuel combustion,” is what is necessary to effectively decarbonize.


Karplus interviewed on decarbonization and women in STEM
Global Women Asia

EPP’s Valerie Karplus was interviewed by Global Women Asia about her work concerning the intersection of energy innovation and decarbonization. As founder and director of the MIT - Tsinghua China Energy and Climate Project, Karplus’ work has influenced her role as a faculty member at CMU.


Samaras quoted on OSTP’s recent work in reducing carbon emissions
ClimateWire

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras spoke with ClimateWire about the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and their ongoing efforts in combating climate change. “There was an emphasis at OSTP that we are delivering the speed and scale needed to net-zero emissions.”


Samaras speaks at the Climate Group’s Climate Action Summit 2024
The Climate Group

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras spoke at the Climate Group’s US Climate Action Summit 2024. From April 22-28, global climate leaders across government, private and public sectors gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the current state of our climate challenges and paths forward.


Niyizamwiyitira quoted on AI in the classroom
CNBC Africa

CMU-Africa’s Christine Niyizamwiyitira was quoted by CNBC Africa on the benefits of AI in classroom settings. Along with lessening the workload for teachers, AI could become a valuable resource for students with special needs in Africa.


Sioshansi comments on wildfire prevention power shut offs
Scripps News

EPP’s Ramteen Sioshansi spoke with Scripps News about the potential negative consequences of shutting down power lines which have been the main source of wildfires in recent years. Sioshansi discusses the predicament of people being completely reliant on electricity, while also being in danger of those electrical sources.


Whitefoot quoted on the MPG Illusion in the US
Vox

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in Vox on the EU’s more transparent gas measurements in comparison to the US. The EU’s liters per 100 kilometer driven method being “directly related to energy use and directly related to emissions” providing researchers with more precise data on fuel economy.


Michalek quoted on the pros and cons of electric cars
Living Planet Podcast

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted on the Living Planet podcast on how the electricity source that electric cars use can greatly alter their environmental benefits. Michalek compares electric cars using renewable energy sources and electric cars using energy sources from coal-fired power plants.


Khair and Tilton gave invited lectures at the Howard Brenner Memorial Symposium

ChemE’s Aditya Khair and Robert Tilton were invited to speak at the Howard Brenner Memorial Symposium, held May 19–21 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The symposium was held to commemorate 10 years since the passing of Dr. Howard Brenner, a renowned expert on fluid mechanics and former faculty member at CMU’s Department of Chemical Engineering from 1966–1977. Khair spoke about the dynamics of emulsions made of fluids with low electric conductivities, and Tilton spoke about surface tension synergy in mixtures of surfactants. The conference also included a keynote address by National Academy of Engineering President John Anderson, former department head of ChemE and former dean of the College of Engineering at CMU.


Zajdel and Singhani interviewed about amateur radio
WESA

ECE’s Tom Zajdel and Anish Singhani were interviewed on WESA about amateur radio and the CMU amateur radio class that has been taught each spring since 2022. Singhani is a recent graduate and past president of the Carnegie Radio Club.


Abbott lends expertise in discussion of the future of healthcare
Lab Manager

In an extensive Q-and-A piece, BME’s Rosalyn Abbott recently discussed the current landscape of biomaterials research and how it is opening new horizons for personalized and more effective healthcare solutions. “This is an exciting time for biomaterial research as fundamental understandings of biomaterial interactions on the body can drive innovation to develop better biomaterials for diverse applications,” she expressed.


Kurchin selected as MoISSI Faculty Fellow
MoISSI

MSE’s Rachel Kurchin has been selected to participate in the inaugural class of Molecular Sciences Software Institute (MolSSI) Faculty Fellows. MolSSI is a multi-university collaboration designed to serve and enhance the software-development efforts of the field of computational molecular science.


Samaras talks “clean” ammonia as an energy alternative
Scientific American

CEE’s Costa Samaras spoke to Scientific American about ongoing efforts to support the production of “green” ammonia, seen as an alternative energy source with less impact on the carbon footprint. “We’re now on this glide path to net-zero in 25 ½ years,” Samaras told the outlet. “So we need the types of clean manufacturing to deliver the speed and scale of clean equipment, so that we’re realizing the emissions reductions within the time frame that we have.”


Sioshansi ranked on ScholarGPS
ScholarGPS

EPP’s Ramteen Sioshansi ranked #26 in the energy storage specialty on ScholarGPS. Highly Ranked Scholars™ are identified by career productivity levels (number of publications), as well as the quality and impact of their work.


Lisanti listed as an innovative connector for tech in the Pittsburgh region
Technical.ly

CyLab’s Michael Lisanti has been recognized as one of Pittsburgh’s 20 RealList Connectors—people who bring together innovators, educators, and locals to help them make personal and professional connections. Lisanti was recognized for his connections between tech companies and the University in his role as director of partnerships for CyLab.


Gueye comments on the rise in electronic payment fraud in Business Day Nigeria
Business Day Nigeria

CMU-Africa’s Assane Gueye comments on the rise in electronic payment fraud in Business Day Nigeria. Over the past five years, Nigerian bank customers have lost N59.33 billion, showing the desperate need for increased regulations and security measures. “We should be more intentional that these technologies will bring more good and not harm,” Gueye says.


Koopman talks Waymo incident
MSN

ECE’s Phil Koopman, speaking to MSN, commented on a recent incident in which Waymo’s self-driving robotaxi broke traffic laws while navigating through San Francisco. “We’re seeing a lot of loose ends that the technology isn’t quite there,” said Koopman. “The companies are claiming it’s safer, but things like driving the wrong way down the street, as long as there is no crash, they would say don’t count for unsafe.”


Koopman quoted on Tesla recall
Yahoo!Tech

ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted in Yahoo!Tech about a recent investigation into how Tesla fixed a recall that affected more than two million vehicles equipped with its Autopilot feature. “It’s pretty clear that Tesla tried to do the least possible remedy to see what they could get away with,” Koopman told the outlet.


Muller quoted on the economic and health effects of air quality standard changes
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

EPP’s Nick Muller weighed in on the effects of a change the Environmental Protection Agency recently made determining acceptable standards for air quality. The old standard allowed 12 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air, while the new standard only allows nine micrograms. This means that several areas of Allegheny County that were previously within the standard are now “out of compliance.” Muller said, “Reducing [the standard] makes good economic sense, if we define economic sense to include the health and well-being of the citizens, but also workers, and the ability to attract new young workers who value environmental quality to the area.”


Michalek quoted on Tesla Supercharger adapters
The Atlantic

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted on the potential benefits of adapters for Tesla Superchargers. The company’s Superchargers, which charge electric vehicles (EVs) much more quickly than other chargers, are being expanded to be compatible with non-Tesla EVs through the use of adapters. Michalek tells The Atlantic that, if implemented successfully, these adapters could help drivers feel more assured that their EVs could make long road trips, potentially helping to boost EV sales.


Donahue ranked on ScholarGPS
ScholarGPS

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue ranked #20 in the aerosol specialty on ScholarGPS. Highly Ranked Scholars™ are identified by career productivity levels (number of publications), as well as the quality and impact of their work.


BME alumna selected for next simulated Mars journey
NASA

Piyumi Wijesekara, a CMU BME alumna, has been selected by NASA to be one of four participants taking a simulated mission to Mars within a habitat at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Beginning May 10, the team will live and work like astronauts for 45 days and exit the facility on June 24 after they “return” to Earth. Wijesekara earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017 and 2022. While pursuing her Ph.D., she focused on stem cell and organ engineering, with a particular emphasis on lung engineering, to investigate human respiratory pathophysiology in Charlie Ren’s lab.


Fischhoff remembers late mentor Kahneman
Science

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff wrote a retrospective for Science on the late Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winning psychologist and author of works including Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman, who was Fischhoff’s graduate advisor along with Amos Tversky, was awarded an honorary degree from CMU in 2012. “The imprint of Danny’s thinking and counsel have been lasting—and made EPP the most natural home in the world,” Fischhoff said.


Celebrating CMU-Africa Week 2024
CMU-Africa

Carnegie Mellon University welcomes College of Engineering students from Kigali to celebrate CMU-Africa Week 2024. The annual event brings together students from both Kigali and Pittsburgh with the aim of building a stronger connection between the two campuses. “Welcoming CMU-Africa students to campus for the exchange program and this annual event is a wonderful experience for not only the visiting students, but the entire Carnegie Mellon community,” says Jennifer Spirer, director of graduate affairs in the College of Engineering.


Samaras discusses climate change
ABC News

Scott Institute Director Costas Samaras discusses climate change with ABC News. As greenhouse gasses accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere, extreme weather events become increasingly common. “Climate change makes things such as extreme heat and extreme storms worse, which can be dangerous to people, especially folks in vulnerable communities,” Samaras said.


Pileggi discusses new interdisciplinary AI-opera course
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ECE Head Larry Pileggi talks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a new interdisciplinary AI-opera course. The class, now in its second semester, is led by Jocelyn Dueck, an assistant professor of collaborative piano, and aims to use AI software to study a brain state called flow. “Our students love when there’s any kind of real world application. And for many of them, the crazier the better,” he says.


April


Dickey researches a new class of metal nanoparticles
Mellon College of Science

MSE Head Elizabeth Dickey is researching a new class of metal nanoparticles. She will obtain high-resolution images of metal nanoclusters and their assemblies, with the aim of developing nanoclusters that contain multiple elements and have a precise atomic count and composition. Dickey is collaborating with Chemistry’s Linda Peteanu and Rongchao Jin, who recently received a New Initiatives research grant from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.


Whitefoot quoted on labor involved in electric vehicle production
NBC News

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in NBC News on the amount of labor involved in electric vehicle production. Amid arguments that a nationwide transition to electric vehicles would result in mass job losses, Whitefoot’s recent study found that electric vehicle production would actually lead to an increase in working hours required to manufacture automobiles. The idea that electric vehicles require less labor “has to do with this really simplistic view that if you have fewer parts, you have less labor,” said Whitefoot. “And that is just not the case.”


Koopman quoted on Tesla’s robotaxis
Forbes

ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted in Forbes on the feasibility of Tesla’s robotaxis. Thus far, Tesla’s robotaxis still require drivers to maintain attention on the road, and if an accident occurs while the self-driving technology is active, the driver will be held responsible. “This is a multi-year problem. Any claim of ‘we are going to solve it right away, even though we clearly haven’t solved it, but in less than 12 months it will be solved and then ready to scale,’ is just not a credible claim by anyone,” said Koopman. “I see no evidence that that is achievable by anyone anytime soon.”


Cranor quoted on “broadband nutrition labels” for internet service
Marketplace

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on the introduction of “broadband nutrition labels” for internet service. The FCC now requires large internet service providers to post a snapshot indicating what users are paying for and what they're getting, mimicking nutrition labels on food products. Cranor notes that users may still struggle to understand these labels. “Don’t just give me numbers, tell me how good is this? If I want to play video games, if I want to stream movies,” Cranor said.


Tucker speaks on Africa’s adoption of AI regulations with Communications of the ACM
Communications of the ACM

CMU-Africa Director Conrad Tucker speaks on Africa’s adoption of AI regulations with Communications of the ACM. With the increasing usage of programs such as ChatGPT, governments all over the world are figuring out how to regulate AI so that users can interact with them safely. Tucker describes the current state of AI there as “quite fragmented,” varying in “different perspectives and policies across African countries.”


Bergés talks battery-powered home appliances
Wall Street Journal

CEE’s Mario Bergés talked to the Wall Street Journal about the potential benefits and drawbacks of battery-powered home appliances. While these appliances would be costly and difficult to standardize, they would provide a way to modulate demand on the electric grid, protecting against severe weather and preventing rolling blackouts. “This future is definitely in view for many of us,” said Bergés. “This is a technology that could provide us with an additional way of making the grid more robust, more amenable to integrating more renewables and to better deal with the shocks that we expect, like higher temperatures and storms.”


New grant weaves a silk-based partnership
NIH

BME’s Charlie Ren and Phil Campbell have received a five-year, $3.5 million Bioengineering Partnerships with Industry (BPI) grant from the NIH, in partnership with David Vorp of the University of Pittsburgh. The group is exploring regenerative medicine applications using “click chemistry,” a chemical process that functions similarly to Velcro®. Relatedly, the group is working together on a Collaborative Sciences Award from the American Heart Association (AHA).


Koopman talks to U.S. News about Tesla’s focus on self-driving robotaxis
U.S. News

ECE’s Phil Koopman talks to U.S. News about Tesla’s focus on self-driving robotaxis. After canceling its plans for a new low-cost car, Tesla will be shifting its efforts to the robotaxis for its unveiling. “Everyone else has found out that what they thought was a two or three-year project turns out to be a 10 or 20-year project. Tesla’s found that out too,” he says.


Carley discusses the rise of “pink slime” websites
Financial Times

CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley discusses the findings of her research on the rise of “pink slime” websites. These sites look similar to legitimate local news outlets, but are heavily tied to a dark network of lobbying groups and political operatives, pushing highly partisan stories on as many platforms as they can reach. Carley recently found that pink slimes have been receiving more and more money ever since the 2022 midterms. “A lot of these sites have had makeovers and look more realistic,” Carley explained to Financial Times. “I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that moving forward.”


Qian quoted on collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge
The Business Journals

CEE’s Sean Qian was quoted on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. A cargo ship struck the bridge while departing from the Port of Baltimore in late March, halting the flow of transportation indefinitely until the debris can be cleared. “This is going to impose a lot of burdens on our supply chain systems,” Qian told The Business Journals. “You can anticipate a lot of containers will accumulate at the port, and it will have a ripple effect on the roadways because the trucks won’t be able to unload and unload a lot of containers, and that has implications on the railway network as well.”


Bockstaller quoted on safety of food storage containers
Buy Side from WSJ

MSE’s Michael Bockstaller was quoted in Buy Side on the safety of certain brands of food storage containers. Pyrex’s containers, originally made of borosilicate glass, are now made with cheaper but similarly durable soda-lime glass; Bockstaller explained that both types of glass are safe for food storage. Regarding plastic food containers like those produced by Rubbermaid, Bockstaller said that certified BPA-free polycarbonate (PC) plastics are the best bet since they’re more resistant to high temperatures than polyethylene (PE) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET).


Rajkumar talks flying cars
USA Today

ECE’s Raj Rajkumar spoke with USA Today about how flying cars could make waves in the future for both travel and industry. “It would reduce congestion by removing some traffic on the road and create a new aviation sector, with new jobs,” he told the outlet.


Sullivan shares thoughts on fragrance products in Yahoo
Yahoo

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan shares his thoughts on fragrance products in Yahoo. Currently, the industry lacks regulations for companies to disclose the ingredients in their products, potentially exposing consumers to harmful chemicals when lighting a candle or spritzing a room with room spray. “Products can contain dozens of chemicals, and all it shows up as is one word on the ingredient list: fragrance,” he says. This story was also covered in The Guardian.


Kumar Receives ACM SIGMOBILE Rockstar Award
SIGMOBILE

ECE’s Swarun Kumar has been awarded the ACM SIGMOBILE 2024 Rockstar Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the design of novel techniques to extend the range of low-power networks and the development of the area of programmable targeted wireless energy delivery. The award recognizes an individual who has made recent outstanding research or product contributions to the field of mobile computing during the early part of their career.


March


He presents Earl Bakken Lecture at 2024 AIMBE annual meeting
AIMBE

BME’s Bin He was selected to be the 2024 Earl Bakken lecturer at the AIMBE Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., on March 24-25, 2024. The prestigious lecture series honors Bakken’s commitment to improving human welfare through application of biomedical engineering innovation. He has made significant research and education contributions to the field of neuroengineering and biomedical imaging, including functional biomedical imaging, noninvasive brain-computer interface, and noninvasive neuromodulation.


Carley warns about online disinformation, its role in public health crises, and its sources
Forbes

CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley recently led a study investigating the origins of conspiratorial tweets, and she spoke with Forbes about the study’s findings: 82% of the more than 200 million tweets analyzed were driven by bot activity, which resembles possible state-sponsored disinformation. She says: “We do know that it looks like it’s a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that.” This disinformation sharpens political polarization and jeopardizes trust in public health institutions, correlating with a drop in vaccination rates and rise in cases of diseases such as measles.


Michalek quoted in article on the affordability of electric vehicles
BBC

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in the BBC on the past and future of electric vehicles, saying: “Before Tesla, most people’s experiences with an EV would be a golf cart or something….There was a sense of it being a small, slow vehicle where you have to compromise a lot.” Despite this early perception, electric vehicles quickly became a status symbol due to their high prices, though this is changing as well due to cheaper options becoming available.


CMU Engineering partnered with Penguins, Covestro in annual “Rethink the Rink” event
Pittsburgh Business Times

Over spring break, 16 CMU students met in groups to collaborate on projects to “rethink the rink” and improve the safety of hockey. This was the seventh annual instance of this event, which has arisen out of a partnership between CMU, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Covestro.


Cranor speaks on internet frauds in TribLive
TribLive

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor speaks on internet frauds in TribLive. With a rising amount of financial scammers affecting people everywhere of all ages or education level, Cranor warns readers of the numerous types of scams and tricks people will use to steal money or personal data. “If you get any message through any channel that says you should transfer money or buy gift cards, it’s a scam,” she says.


Coscientist mentioned in article about LLMs for research
Chemical & Engineering News

Research by ChemE’s Gabe Gomes was referenced in a Chemical & Engineering News article about large language models being applied to chemistry and materials research. Gomes’ research team debuted Coscientist, a model that can contribute to the experiment process by answering queries, this past December.


Samaras envisions next steps for future climate policies
Volts

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras envisions next steps for future climate policies. Samaras worked with the Biden-Harris administration between 2021 and 2024, collaborating with others in the White House to facilitate a smooth transition to clean energy. Going forward, he hopes to see improvements in electrification, transmission, decarbonization, and climate-smart agriculture. “We’re in a position now that we have to get the entire US and global economy down to zero greenhouse gas emissions in like 25 years,” Samaras tells Volts. “And under those conditions, you try to be as optimal as possible, but you kind of just do what you need to do to make it work.”


Michalek quoted on the environmental impact of electric vehicles
Daily Mail

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in a recent article from the Daily Mail. The article discussed possible adverse effects of electric vehicles on the environment, such as tire treads wearing out more quickly due to the weight of the vehicle battery. Michalek said that the “critical factor” in the vehicles’ environmental impact was the use of coal: “If you’ve got electric cars in Pittsburgh that are being plugged in at night and leading nearby coal plants to burn more coal to charge them, then the climate benefits won’t be as great, and you can even get more air pollution.”


Zhao quoted on the applications of humanoid robots
Popular Science

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted in an article in Popular Science at the end of February. The article discussed advances in technology for human-shaped robots, particularly those created by the robotics company Figure. Figure has announced a partnership with OpenAI it hopes will allow its robots to be able to understand and process human speech, which will make them more useful in workspaces such as warehouses. Speaking on these robots capabilities, Zhao called these robots’ possible implementations the “billion-dollar question” and said: “Generally speaking, we are still exploring the capabilities of humanoid robots, how effectively we can collect data and train them, and how to ensure their safety when they interact with the physical world.”


Qian mentioned in social digital twin technology collaboration
Fujitsu

CEE’s Sean Qian was mentioned in a story about recent advances in social digital twin technology, a joint research effort between CMU and Fujitsu Limited. These new developments allow for the conversion of a single 2D image captured by a monocular RGB camera into an estimated 3D reconstruction. The use of 3D Occupancy Estimation Technology and 3D Projection Technology reduces workload and protects privacy, while still maintaining accuracy.


Majidi explains how robots can help with understanding ancient creatures
Ars Technica

MechE’s Carmel Majidi explains how robots, built to mimic the traits revealed by ancient fossils, can help with understanding extinct creatures. Together with PhD student Richard Desatnik, Majidi led the construction of a robot likeness of pleurocystitid, an ancient relative of starfish, to understand how it might have moved on the sea bed. Majidi tells Ars Technica that this technology will help scientists gain a much fuller picture of evolutionary history than what they could glean from living organisms alone. “We can begin to learn from the 99 percent of species that once roamed the earth instead of just the 1 percent,” he says.


Cranor discusses cybersecurity labels for smart devices
News 5 Cleveland

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor discusses the idea of creating cybersecurity labels for smart devices. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved a new labeling system in which smart devices proven safe by accredited labs would be labeled with a Cyber Trust Mark, similar to the way an Energy Star logo indicates energy efficiency. “By having these labels, the hope is that it will kind of raise the bar because companies are going to be upfront about this,” Cranor tells News 5 Cleveland. “And you know they’re not going to want to look bad. So, they’re going to have some incentive to actually improve their security and privacy.”


Morgan and Apt discuss the benefits of a mixed portfolio of low-carbon technology
Science

EPP’s Granger Morgan and Jay Apt discuss the benefits of a mixed portfolio of low-carbon technology in their recent op-ed piece in Science. Morgan and Apt call on expert and policy communities in the U.S. to start implementing achievable strategies as soon as possible, rather than spending time and money arguing over the definitive perfect solution. The authors assert that, although the ultimate goal is to completely stop burning fossil fuels, the best steps for now would be to implement a mixed technology portfolio, tightening emissions standards gradually so as to make long-term progress while avoiding high short-term costs.


Grossmann selected as John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecturer for 2024 AIChE Annual Meeting

ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann was selected as the John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecturer for the 2024 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting. During the lecture, Grossmann discussed a wide variety of applications for emerging models and algorithms such as mixed-integer linear/nonlinear programming (MILP/MINLP), Generalized Disjunctive Programming (GDP) and global optimization techniques. The review committee was impressed with Grossmann’s extensive technical contributions to the field of process systems engineering, and noted his remarkable accomplishments as a pioneer in the field as both an educator and researcher.


Grossmann receives INFORMS award for paper on hybrid MILP/CP models

ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann received the INFORMS Journal of Computing Test of Time Paper Award for 1997-2001 for his work on solving problems through hybrid MILP/CP models. His paper, “Algorithms for Hybrid MILP/CP Models for a Class of Optimization Problems,” is an early application of logic-based Benders decomposition, where the master problem is solved by a mixed-integer program and the subproblems by constraint programming. In addition to its contributions to the considered application, the paper has been instrumental in stimulating significant and substantial research in Benders decomposition, branch and check, and branch and price and check, with applications in many domains including routing and scheduling.


Three new professorships in Mechanical Engineering

Three new professorships were announced in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Burak Kara has been named a George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Carmel Majidi has been named the Clarence H. Adamson Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and Jon Malen has been named the Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering.


Gueye, Fanti selected for UN initiative
CMU-Africa

CMU-Africa’s Assane Gueye and ECE’s Giulia Fanti were named among a diverse group of experts to work on an initiative from the United Nations to develop a safeguards framework to guide digital public infrastructure (DPI) design and implementation around the world.


Samaras quoted on the subject of U.S. natural gas exports
90.5 WESA

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras was quoted in 90.5 WESA on whether to expand U.S. natural gas exports. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick advocates for the expansion, arguing that it would boost Pennsylvania’s economy. McCormick also intends to halt subsidies towards electric vehicle and solar panel providers, holding that American taxpayer dollars should not be sent to companies controlled by authoritarian regimes. Samaras is skeptical of the idea. “I don’t think that getting rid of the provisions in the IRA that has led to a manufacturing boom in the United States and is lowering energy costs for consumers is something that’s going to be very popular,” he said.


Samaras quoted on Texas Panhandle wildfires
The Texas Tribune

Scott Institute Director Costa Samaras was quoted in The Texas Tribune on the impact of the recent wildfires across the Texas Panhandle, including the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Texas resident Melanie McQuiddy filed a lawsuit against Xcel Energy, the utility company whose equipment was implicated in the fire that destroyed McQuiddy’s house. Experts advise utility companies to prepare for even more extreme weather in the future. “We don’t have last century’s climate right now, and we won’t have last century’s climate for the many decades ahead, as the impacts of climate change accelerate,” Samaras said.


Zhang featured in Celebrating Women at SIAM
SIAM

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was featured by SIAM in celebrating Women’s History Month, for her contributions to the applied mathematics and computational science field.


Michalek fact-checks claims about a supposed ban on gas-powered cars
FactCheck.org

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek responded to two recent advertisements. These advertisements claim that proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation seek to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles. He agreed that these claims are exaggerated, and clarified: “[T]he new standards are not a ban on gasoline vehicles, and I don’t think anyone expects automakers to stop making gasoline vehicles in response to these standards.” Instead, these regulations would increase the number of electric vehicles, and he noted that automakers would still be able to produce some gas-powered vehicles.


Chamanzar receives $650,000 grant for surgical device company
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Advanced Optronics Inc., which was co-founded by ECE’s Maysam Chamanzar, received a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop devices that doctors will use in surgeries. These tiny devices provide information in real-time so doctors can implant them accurately, which will make surgeries easier and safer.


Kurchin interviewed about how to choose the best solar power inverters
CNET

MSE’s Rachel Kurchin weighed in on a CNET list of the best solar inverters of March 2024. A solar inverter converts energy from solar panels into electricity that appliances can use, and there are many different kinds. The best inverter to buy depends on a consumer’s particular circumstances. She says: “Residential solar installations can look really different depending on what the residence looks like. Maybe your house has a really slanted roof or maybe there are trees around that shade it for part of the day, or maybe that’s not so much of an issue. Those are the kinds of things that can make a real difference in what type of inverter solution makes the most sense.”


February


Abbott quoted on 3D printed food outlook
Tech Times

BME’s Rosalyn Abbott weighs in on the potential for personalized 3D-printed food products in Tech Times. “I have a 3D printer in my home that prints toys for my kids, so the capacity to get a 3D printer in our homes isn’t far off! To make the jump from toys to food, though, will take time,” she says. Abbott’s lab looks at the 3D structures of the animal meat tissues, specifically how fat is stored, and aims to recreate an artificial meat product that mimics these properties and structures.


Koopman shares his thoughts on attacks against driverless cars
Marketplace

ECE’s Phil Koopman shares his thoughts with MarketPlace on potential motives behind the rise of attacks against driverless cars. In San Francisco, for instance, an unoccupied robotaxi was recently set on fire. Koopman denounces the attack, but explains that people are feeling increasingly frustrated with the various accidents and traffic issues caused by driverless cars. “The companies could have handled that a lot better, but they didn’t,” he says. “They could have put people back in the cars till they got it together and stop making those kinds of messes. They chose not to.”


Whitefoot quoted on electric vehicle tax credits
Fox Business

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in Fox Business on the updated federal policy surrounding tax credits awarded for purchases of new or used electric vehicles. According to the IRS, electric vehicles assembled outside of North America will no longer qualify for the tax credit, an effort to reduce reliance on international manufacturers. Thus far, only 13 electric vehicles qualify for credit. “I do expect that this [list] will increase over time,” Whitefoot said. “That’s because it’s going to take time for automakers to set up the domestic battery and mineral supply chains necessary to meet the tax credit requirements—which are still relatively new.”


CMU students achieve two-way communication with lunar rover Iris
New York Times

Team Iris, consisting of students and staff across all of CMU’s colleges, achieved two-way communication with lunar rover Iris following its launch into outer space. Although the lander carrying Iris was ultimately unable to land on the moon due to technical anomalies, Team Iris’ quick thinking and persistent efforts resulted in successful communication with the rover, indicating that it had survived the launch into space. “It wasn’t the mission we thought,” Connor Colombo, chief engineer for Team Iris, commented in The New York Times. “And in fact, maybe that made it more interesting because we had to do a lot of thinking on our feet, and I’m really grateful to have had that.” The team’s achievements were also featured in WPXI and on CMU’s news page.


Pasareanu quoted on safety of driverless cars
Quanta Magazine

CyLab/ECE’s Corina Pasareanu was quoted in Quanta Magazine regarding recent efforts to guarantee the reliability of perception systems in autonomous vehicles. A team of researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign aims to mathematically prove the reliability of these systems by quantifying the margin of error and ensuring that margin remains within a safe limit. “Their method of providing end-to-end safety guarantees is very important,” Pasareanu said.


Carley speaks about AI robocalls following New Hampshire primary election
AP News

CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley was quoted in AP News on the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls. In particular, she discussed the recent robocalls that used an AI-generated likeness of President Joe Biden’s voice to discourage people from voting in the New Hampshire primary election. The technology to mimic human voices is “well understood and it makes standard mistakes,” she said. “But that technology will get better.” Her comments on the matter were also quoted in Mashable and The Hill.


Pileggi honored with 2023 Phil Kaufman Award
Electronic System Design Alliance and the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation

ECE Head Larry Pileggi will be honored for his pioneering contributions to circuit simulation and optimization that have enabled the industry to address the challenge of interconnect delay dominated designs, and for his innovations in electrical and computer engineering education. The Phil Kaufman Award is presented annually by the Electronic System Design Alliance (ESD Alliance), a SEMI technology community, and the Council on Electronic Design Automation (CEDA) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


LeDuc and Majidi’s new soft robot highlighted in PopSci
PopSci

MechE’s Philip LeDuc and Carmel Majidi have developed a new soft robot inspired by a prehistoric sea creature, which was featured in Popular Science. Pleurocystitids, a precursor to the present-day invertebrates, had tail-like structures that allowed them to move underwater easily.


LeDuc, Ozdoganlar, and Yang featured in Interesting Engineering
Interesting Engineering

MechE’s Philip LeDuc, Burak Ozdoganlar, and Feimo Yang have developed a new tissue engineering technique that may alleviate the organ transplantation crisis. The work was featured in Interesting Engineering. “What makes our method different from other kinds of 3D printing is that instead of letting the water completely freeze while we’re printing, we let it maintain a liquid phase on top,” said Yang, who hopes that the versatility of the 3D-printed blood vessels will have further applications beyond the immediate organ transplant issue.


Jayan quoted on temperature and battery-powered vehicles charging
Wards Auto

MechE’s Reeja Jayan shares her thoughts on how temperature affects battery-powered vehicles’ ability to change in Wards Auto. The cold can make batteries charge less effectively. “If you have limited charging stations, as we have in the U.S., you can imagine how this becomes bad quickly,” she says. Experts hope that with the growing EV industry, this solution will be solved and more charging stations will begin to appear.


Gomes’ AI tool featured in multiple outlets
Chemical & Engineering News

ChemE’s Gabe Gomes’ new AI tool with complex chemistry capabilities was featured in Chemistry & Engineering News. The program uses the internet and relevant literature to learn about a reaction and, within minutes, produces an outline for the procedure needed to complete the reaction. “We are converting bits to atoms,” Gomes says. “Taking a natural language prompt, the bits, and converting it into an actual chemical reaction.” This work was also featured in Axios, Ars Technica, Psychology Today, and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.


Whitefoot talks electric vehicle tax credits
CNET

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot spoke to CNET about adding to the list of electric vehicles that qualify for a federal tax credit worth thousands of dollars. “I do expect this [list] will increase over time,” Whitefoot said, noting that improvements in battery and mineral supply chains could help.


Karplus talks West Virginia energy revolution
Times West Virginian

EPP’s Valerie Karplus spoke to the Times West Virginian about a new research project called Engines that aims to reimagine the state’s energy landscape. Researchers from CMU, West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburgh will collaborate during an initial 18-month period after receiving $1 million from the National Science Foundation. “I think one of the most exciting prospect is thinking how we can really pull together all the necessary pieces to make the energy and innovation ecosystem work here in the region,” said Karplus.


Grossmann on Subject to podcast
Subject to

ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann appeared on the Subject to podcast to talk about his life and career. The show features leading researchers in the fields of operations research, combinatorial optimization, and logistics.


Carley speaks about AI technology’s role in the upcoming election
Computer World

CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley speaks to Computer World about AI technology’s role in the upcoming election. With the vast capabilities of AI, she advises social media companies especially to take precautions against AI-generated content while preserving the discourse surrounding the election. “AI technologies are constantly evolving, and new safeguards are needed,” Carley said. “Also, AI could be used to help by identification of those spreading hate, identification of hate-speech, and by creating content that aids with voter education and critical thinking.”


Koopman talks public perception of self-driving cars
NPR

ECE’s Phil Koopman was featured on an NPR podcast to discuss how the public views autonomous vehicles and their potential, particularly in light of the safety concerns raised after self-driving cars were involved in road accidents. “The narrative started to unravel when they promised we wouldn't make the same stupid mistakes as human drivers, and then they got caught on camera making the same stupid mistakes,” said Koopman.


Cranor speaks about Roblox privacy concerns
USA Today

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor spoke with USA Today about the spotlight cast on Roblox’s privacy settings. While it was established that the online game doesn’t collect precise location data, Cranor noted that sharing personal information in chats could leave users vulnerable. She recommended that parents check the privacy settings on the platform for younger users.


Pileggi quoted on solar batteries
CNET

ECE’s Larry Pileggi spoke to CNET about the two different methods, AC-coupled and DC-coupled, that are used to connect batteries for solar panels to homes. Specifically, Pileggi distinguished between the two energy types. “When you use that battery energy in your home or sell it back to the grid, you’d convert it to AC because that’s what your appliances are expecting,” he told the outlet.


Whitehead organizes symposium
Keystone Symposia

ChemE’s Katie Whitehead co-organized the Keystone Symposium on Delivery of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics in Banff, Alberta, Canada in late January. Ph.D. alum Khalid Hajj (2019), postdoc Sai Yerneni, and Ph.D. student Mariah Arral also attended.


2023 staff award winners

Congratulations to our 2023 staff award winners:

  • Rookie Award: Nicole Rihn, Admissions and Program Coordinator, Energy Science and Technology Program, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Burritt Education Award: Jenny Hurst, Career Counselor, Engineering and Public Policy
  • Innovation Award: Mary Kilcoyne, Alumni Relations Manager, Integrated Innovation Institute
  • DEI Award: Leia Delabahan, Senior Academic & Student Services Advisor, Integrated Innovation Institute
  • Spirit Award: Melissa Ritchie, Graduate Academic Coordinator, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Continuous Excellence: Nancy Doyle, Manager of the Director’s Office and Administration, Information Networking Institute
  • Inspirational Leadership Award: Ryan Bates, Fabrication Manager, Tech Spark, Mechanical Engineering

January


Morgan and Karplus talk carbon capture facilities
Earth.Org

EPP’s Granger Morgan and Valerie Karplus talk about streamlining the process of building carbon capture facilities with Earth.Org. “Right now you’re looking at 6 to 10 years and up to 12 years, potentially, to get through all of these regulatory steps,” Karplus says. Although carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not a permanent solution, it has the potential to be a powerful tool in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.


Nock and her company Peoples Energy Analytics featured
Science News Explores

CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock and her company Peoples Energy Analytics were featured in Science News Explores. Using her background in math, she created a computer algorithm that helps people manage their utilities more effectively, and subsequently, lower their energy costs. “Before I had the data, it was really hard to get people to listen. Now, I can actually show that this is a problem throughout the United States,” Nock says.


Fuchs featured in a podcast done by Issues in Science and Technology
Issues in Science and Technology

EPP’s Erica Fuchs was featured in a podcast by Issues in Science and Technology. She and Lisa Margonelli talk about Fuchs’ pilot project that she has been working on for the past year—the National Network for Critical Technology Assessment. This project will allow the federal government to predict and tackle supply chain issues effectively ahead of time. 


CMU-Africa involved in study that revealed security risks in African financial apps
BNN Breaking

CMU-Africa was mentioned in BNN Breaking for its involvement in a study that revealed major security risks in popular African financial apps. They found that 95% of these Android apps could potentially compromise the personal and financial information of 272 million users. This finding will hopefully steer both developers and users toward increasing security measures while continuing to use these apps.


Sullivan weighs in on water microdroplet chemistry
Chemistry World

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan spoke with Chemistry World about the contentious topic of water microdroplet chemistry, which has inspired mixed feelings among researchers in the field. Sullivan, for his part, is more skeptical. “Many physical atmosphere chemists who I regard as very careful experimentalists…do not think that this idea that oxidants are spontaneously being produced in microdroplets is real—they are quite convinced it’s contamination or some sort of artifact,” said Sullivan.


Rajkumar appointed to U.S. DOT advisory committee
USDOT

ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was selected to serve on the new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee to provide advice to DOT and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about approaches to innovation. The committee will convene on January 18, to discuss a variety of topics, including pathways to safe, secure, equitable, environmentally-friendly, and accessible deployments of transportation technologies. The 27 committee members include experts from academia, think tanks, the public sector, labor, and industry who cover automation, cybersecurity, safety, accessibility, law, government, entrepreneurship, privacy, equity, and other areas.


Fischhoff talks to The Washington Post about how social science intersects with climate change
The Washington Post

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff talks to The Washington Post about how social science intersects with climate change. As clean energy initiatives become increasingly popular, researchers have found that a good indicator of if someone will engage with these is if people in their social circle are engaging too. Scientists are now taking advantage of this knowledge after letting other governmental programs fall through, such as the efforts in 1979. “We basically were no longer at the table for the next quarter-century,” he says. “The natural scientists trusted their story would tell [itself]. … We blew it.”


2023


December


Whitacre’s start-up Stratus Materials featured in The Pittsburgh Business Times
The Pittsburgh Business Times

MSE/EPP’s Jay Whitacre’s start-up company Stratus Materials was featured in The Pittsburgh Business Times for its advancement toward a Pittsburgh-based, cobalt-free cathode manufacturing plant. “This new pilot line will allow Stratus to expand the scope of its testing and sampling efforts which will include deploying its materials into large-scale battery packs and electric vehicles,” Stratus says.


Michalek discusses his research on EV adoption in rural communities
The Verge

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek discusses his research on EV adoption in rural communities in The Verge. “If electric vehicles are offered as ubiquitously as gasoline vehicles, and if their technology goes where we think it’s going to go, then we would expect roughly half of people to prefer an electric over a gasoline for both cars and SUVs,” he says. Michalek’s extensive work in EVs and their integration into our current society is also mentioned in MSN, The Wall Street Journal, and CNET.


Pileggi shares his opinion on U.S. computer chip manufacturing
The New York Times

ECE Head Larry Pileggi shares his opinion on U.S. computer chip manufacturing in The New York Times. While Biden believes that companies should be hiring solely American workers, Pileggi argues for the benefit of bringing in more experienced chipmakers from other countries. “Our U.S. work force is of insufficient size, but also, large populations of our technical work force are focused on learning A.I. and software development, which makes immigration of semiconductor technologists even more imperative,” he says.


Sankaranarayanan talks to CNET about AI touchups on phone photos
CNET

ECE’s Aswin Sankaranarayanan talks to CNET about AI touchups on phone photos. While most phones have the digital processing capabilities to touch up photos, they vary in method and how much processing occurs. “There’s not one answer. It’s whatever appeals to you,” he says. “And every company obviously believes they do a better job than the others.”


Wolf’s 3D printing technology mentioned in Defense News
Defense News

MFI/NEXT Manufacturing’s Sandra DeVincent Wolf’s research was mentioned in Defense News as part of an article on manufacturing issues with 3D printing pertaining to the U.S.’s submarine fleet. In order to resolve the issue, the Navy has started to install cameras, microphones, and sensors that will monitor the manufacturing process and can catch errors in real time; this is similar to the technology in Wolf’s lab. “The machines in her labs are rigged with sensors: high- and low-speed cameras, thermal imaging, images of the melt pool, images of the metal spatter, acoustic monitoring, and more,” the article notes.


Kumar discusses why 5G can be slower than 4G networks
WTAE

ECE’s Swarun Kumar discusses why 5G can be slower than 4G networks on WTAE. Many cell phone users have recently been reporting dropped calls, slower streaming and download times, and general bad service. “Think of this from the operators’ point of view. They are rolling out a new network. There are going to be bugs; there are going to be issues. They’re going to have to assess how many users are on the new network rather than the old network,” he reasons.


Halilaj speaks on the benefits of using AI for biomechanical analyses
Medscape

MechE’s Eni Hallilaj speaks on the benefits of using AI for biomechanical analyses in Medscape. Especially for “highly heterogeneous conditions that we have not been able to fully characterize through traditional studies with limited patients,” the app allows for the possibility of having hundreds or even thousands involved in studies. “The opportunities here are endless,” Hallilaj says.


Nock talks to AZ Central about why people wait too long to turn on their ACs
AZ Central

CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock talks to AZ Central about why people wait too long to turn on their ACs. “I have been able to find that there are some households that wait until the average outdoor temperature is above 78 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix to turn on their air conditioners, which often means the maximum daily temperature is 90 degrees,” Nock says. Because of the rising energy costs, many people delay turning on their air conditioning until it’s too late, but new technology could prevent this from happening. Nock’s startup company, People’s Energy Analytics, helps locate inefficiencies in the area and get people connected to assistance programs if needed.


Cranor comments on House speakers’ porn-monitoring software
The Washington Post

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor comments on House speaker Mike Johnson’s porn-monitoring software in The Washington Post. The software scans all activity on any device and sends a report to an “accountability partner—Johnson’s is his 17-year-old son. Cranor is “concerned about a government official using it knowingly on his own devices, as it may expose potentially sensitive information to a third-party service provider or even his 17-year-old son.”


Cranor shares thoughts on smartphones and their listening capabilities
WTAE

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor shares her thoughts on smartphones and their listening capabilities on WTAE. “Your phones are mostly not listening to you, but they could be listening to you,” she says. Her recommendation is to check which apps on your phone have access to the microphone, which is how phones could be listening to you.


Koopman shares his opinion on robo-taxis
MarketWatch

ECE’s Phil Koopman shares his opinion on robo-taxis in MarketWatch. He states the importance of human test drivers in preventing accidents such as the one earlier this year where a Cruise vehicle sent a pedestrian to the hospital. “They weren’t as ready as they wanted people to believe. They should operate only with safety drivers, and need to have a serious investigation with independent oversight,” he says.


Grossmann delivers 2023 Distinguished Schiesser Lecture at Lehigh University
Lehigh University

ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann delivered the 2023 Distinguished Schiesser Lecture at Lehigh University on December 6th, 2023 as part of the university’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s Fall 2023 Colloquium Seminar Series. His presentation was titled “Optimal Synthesis and Planning of Sustainable Chemical Process and Energy Systems.”


Webster-Wood talks with Nature about biohybrid robots
Nature

MechE’s Victoria Webster-Wood talks with Nature about biohybrid robots. “A biohybrid is really any robot that combines both biological materials and synthetic materials,” she says. These machines have many potential applications including search and rescue following earthquakes.


Tsamitis named among Smart Business Pittsburgh Smart 50
Smart Business

INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis has been named one of the Smart Business Pittsburgh Smart 50. This award is given to innovative and inspiring leaders from the 50 smartest companies in the greater Pittsburgh area.


Hibshi gives input on Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa cyberattack
WTAE-TV

CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi gives input on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa cyberattack in WTAE-TV. “We’re going to see more attacks, and I think that, unfortunately, lots of parties that are not involved in the conflict can get affected,” Hibshi says with regards to the Israel-Hamas war.


CMU Engineering featured in Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania education issue
Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania

A CMU Engineering article was featured in the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania education issue released in Summer 2023. The piece highlights the new degrees and programs CMU has created to equip future engineers to thrive in the ever-changing industry. Some of these initiatives include an AI master’s degree, online certificate programs, and a new undergraduate major in entrepreneurship.


Carley comments on Amazon Lex
InfoWorld

CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley comments on Amazon’s chatbot, Lex, in InfoWorld. “The key is that putting a large language model into Lex means that if you build or interact with an Amazon Lex bot, it will be able to provide more helpful, more natural human-sounding, and possibly more accurate responses to standard questions,” Carley says. “Unlike the old style analytic system, these bots are not task focused and so can do things other than follow a few preprogrammed steps.”


November


Sioshansi talks about electricity rates in Texas
CNET

EPP’s Ramteen Sioshansi talks to CNET about electricity rates in Texas. “I think the biggest advantage in Texas is you can find some fairly exotic price structures that you just would not have found pre-restructuring [pre-deregulation],” he says. “Different companies that own generators compete with each other, and whoever can supply electricity at the lowest cost is who is going to supply [it] to the end customer.”


Dickey at the 2023 American Ceramic Society Annual meeting
The American Ceramic Society

MSE Head Elizabeth Dickey attended the American Ceramic Society’s 125th Annual meeting at the Materials Science & Technology technical meeting and exhibition where she delivered the Robert B. Sosman lecture and was honored as this year’s Sosman awardee.


Taylor featured in PittsburghInno
PittsburghInno

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was featured in PittsburghInno for being named the first Ansys Career Development Chair in the College of Engineering. The Ansys endowment she received will go toward educating mechanical engineering students using Ansys software. “Using Ansys software in my lab and classroom will help prepare my students to use self-assembly as a powerful tool for advanced manufacturing,” Taylor says. The announcement was also covered in the Pittsburgh Business Times.


Donahue comments on Kentucky train derailment fire
AP News

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue comments on a Kentucky train derailment fire in AP News. Sulfur dioxide was thought to be released during the crash, prompting the residents of Rockcastle County to be evacuated. “It is just nasty, caustic, and acidic stuff that hurts. It’s unpleasant to be in,” Donahue says. “Once the fire was put out, the threat from the chemicals was expected to diminish quickly.” Donahue was also featured in The Washington Post on the topic.