CMU Spinoff Uses AI to Address COVID-19

A photo of people in line at an airport

Cameras monitor stores, hotels, hospitals, airport terminals, public parks and parking lots. When computer vision technology company Zensors spun out of Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) two years ago, the founding members created an artificial intelligence (AI) capable of analyzing images and video from those cameras and turning it into actionable data. Now they’re offering up that AI to organizations worldwide to be used in response to COVID-19.

In March, Zensors announced it would open its platform, at no cost through June 1, to stores, governments, hospitals, airports and essential businesses to help deal with the coronavirus.

“We can start giving actionable data today using our clients’ existing cameras,” said Anuraag Jain, a School of Computer Science and HCII alumnus and creator of the Zensors technology. “It’s that straightforward to use. Our product was designed to automate space analytics such as occupancy, crowd flow, wait times and related staffing needs, which can aid the implementation of new social distancing requirements and protect public health.”

Source: CMU Spinoff Uses AI to Address COVID-19

Carnegie Mellon Tackles the Digital Divide, Connects High-Need Students to Wi-Fi

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When Kristopher Hupp started teaching high school social studies in the Cornell School District in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, his classroom had a chalkboard and a PC with a floppy disc drive.

Twenty years later, he’s the district’s director of technology and instructional innovation, responsible for leading the transition to remote learning in response to the spread of COVID-19. While all of Cornell’s classrooms have fast and reliable internet, not every student has a device like a Chromebook, and many lack reliable internet access at home.

“My stress level was through the roof,” Hupp said. “Lots of waking up in the middle of the night, trying to stay on top of all of the email and phone communication with families and trying to find devices, and making sure they got wirelessly connected.”

And the Cornell School District isn’t alone. According to Pittsburgh Public Schools, 46% of homes in its district don’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi. A 2018 survey found that as many as 60% of some Pittsburgh neighborhoods have no internet access, and many other urban, suburban and rural homes lack connectivity.

“Many of the most underresourced learners can’t get online,” said Ashley Williams Patton, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Pathways program.

To support the transition to remote learning, CMU CS Pathways is partnering with Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Meta Mesh Wireless Communities to provide free access to Wi-Fi in high-need communities across the Greater Pittsburgh Area, starting with a pilot program in Coraopolis.

Source: Carnegie Mellon Tackles the Digital Divide, Connects High-Need Students to Wi-Fi

A Dramatic Shift

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama‘s transition to remote learning is opening up new opportunities to connect students with industry professionals and providing fresh approaches to courses that typically rely on face-to-face interaction.

Alumni from the school — including actors on Broadway, film and television; costume, sound and lighting designers; and stage managers — and industry veterans — including playwrights and casting directors — have guest lectured courses to discuss the crafts of singing, acting and design, life experiences, and the entertainment business. They also have led workshops — providing professional feedback on skills that could serve students through their careers.

Catherine Moore, teaching professor of movement and option coordinator of acting and musical theater, said the transition has been challenging. These crafts typically rely on actors and singers working together in the same room, feeding off each other’s physical energy and hearing one another in real time. But the new format has provided unexpected bright spots.

Moore teaches physical approaches to actor training, which focuses on how actors use their bodies to express behavior and communicate. For lessons in stage combat, Moore brought in CMU alumni Aleyse Shannon and Patrick Wilson. Shannon, a 2018 School of Drama graduate who acted in the movie “Black Christmas” and the television show “Charmed,” spoke about the differences between doing her own fight work on film versus television and described the experience of going from being a new graduate to working on set. Wilson, a 1995 School of Drama graduate, told students about filming fight scenes with Liam Neeson in “The A-Team,” wire work with Jason Momoa for “Aquaman,” and how his training in swordplay at CMU helped prepare him for the film adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera.”

Source: A Dramatic Shift

Art Meets Tech in Born-Digital Artist’s Book

A project created by a recent Carnegie Mellon University graduate dares to challenge the traditional definition of an artist’s book, and you can find it in the University Libraries’ catalog.

Unlike a print book or monograph that showcases creative work, an artist’s book is itself considered a piece of art. Although it maintains the form and function of a book, the item is considered an artistic object. Artists’ books may differ in size and shape from traditional books, and play with content and technique. Using this physical format allows an artist to experiment with the medium to reach a larger audience than the conventional art gallery setting.

The born-digital artist’s book “Asterisk” is the first of its kind to be digitally preserved by the Libraries, with the final work entering the collection in April after a year-long process.

 

Source: Art Meets Tech in Born-Digital Artist’s Book

CMU Names Seven University Professors

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Seven Carnegie Mellon University faculty members have been elevated to the rank of University Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can achieve at CMU.

The newly appointed University Professors are Jessica Hodgins, Allen Robinson, Kathryn Roeder, Tuomas Sandholm, Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Susanne Slavick and Joe William Trotter, Jr.

“University Professors are distinguished by international recognition and for their contributions to education, artistic creativity and/or research,” said Provost Jim Garrett. “Each University Professor exemplifies a high level of professional achievement and an exceptional commitment to academic excellence at our university.”

Garrett said the professors were nominated and recommended by academic leaders and faculty who have achieved the designation of University Professor.

The new University Professors will be recognized at a future event.

Source: CMU Names Seven University Professors