Carnegie Mellon inventions
The mass production of brilliant minds and personalities is Carnegie Mellon’s speciality. Homecoming is all about getting students to interact with alumni and gain a better understanding of the legacy that has been laid before them; one way to help do this is to reflect on some of the great men and women who have walked the halls in the past. Among the university’s prestigious alumni are:
Notable achievers from Carnegie’s halls
John L. Hall received his B.S. in 1956, M.S. in 1958, and his Ph.D. in 1961, all from the Mellon College of Science. In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in precision spectroscopy.
Yoshiaki Fujimori, class of ’81, is the president and CEO of General Electric Asia. Andy Bechtolsheim, class of ’76, is the co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Steven Bochco, class of ’66, is a 10-time Emmy Award-winner and the writer and producer of L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, and Hill Street Blues. Stephanie Kwolek, Margaret Morrison Carnegie College class of ’46, invented Kevlar, a lightweight but incredibly stiff material that is used for body armor, industrial cables, and brake lines. David A. Coulter, class of ’71, was a former vice chairman of both JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, and also engineered the largest financial merger of all time: the merge of Nations Bank Corp. and Bank of America Corp. in 1998. John Nash — who many know from the movie A Beautiful Mind — graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1948. Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his work on game theory.
Innovation in computer science
Aside from its hundreds of gifted alumni, Carnegie Mellon also pioneered the computer science field. 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. In 1956, the University’s first computer, an IBM 650, was brought into the basement of the GSIA building. Allen Newell — who earned his Ph.D from Carnegie in ’57 — and Herbert A. Simon established the study of artificial intelligence, developing a “thinking machine” in 1956.
They worked with other colleagues to develop the Information Processing Language, which was then used to help spawn several early artificial intelligence programs, such as the computer chess program NSS. In 1975, Newell and Simon were awarded the Turing Award for their contributions to the study of artificial intelligence, human cognition, and list processing. Simon also went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978, for his work challenging the economic theory of corporate decision-making.
In 1965, the first computer science department was established with Allen J. Perlis as its head. Perlis, of the CIT class of ’43, actually received the first ever Turing Award in 1966 for his work as a member of the team that developed the ALGOL programming language.
Networking for all
Another major development was the Andrew Project in 1985. This was a joint collaboration between IBM and Carnegie Mellon that developed a way for the entire campus to be networked, wired, and ready for privately-owned computers. At the time, few students could afford their own computers, and henceforth, the school decided to create the clusters that we have today. Software such as the Andrew File System and the Andrew webmail client were also developed. Carnegie Mellon was the first campus to make this technology readily available for all of its students. In addition, in 2000, Carnegie Mellon was the first university to go completely wireless.
As times change, Carnegie Mellon will continue to be a leader in technological innovation. The new Gates building will facilitate the advancement of computer science and related technologies, continuing the legacy of Newell and Simon. Also, Carnegie Mellon will continue to move forward in other fields and disciplines as well. The emphasis on quality of education is evident in its faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and these individuals will go on to forever revolutionize the world in all fields and disciplines.