Microsoft establishes ETC scholarship

Upcoming minority science graduates across the country may now have even more opportunities to study at Carnegie Mellon.

Recently, Carnegie Mellon and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to establish a new scholarship for college graduates planning on studying entertainment technology.

The entertainment and devices division at Microsoft established the Microsoft Entertainment and Technology Diversity Scholarship on August 16.

The scholarship targets Latinos, African-Americans, and women in the information technology field who are pursuing a master’s in entertainment technology (MET) from the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).

Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon hope the scholarship will promote an increase in the number of minority students seeking an MET.

To do so, the scholarship provides the student with $10,000 for tuition, as well as eligibility for internships at Microsoft.

“We are delighted and proud to provide talented women and minority students with this exciting opportunity to learn about digital entertainment at a world-class institution,” stated Robbie Bach in Microsoft’s press release. Bach is the president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division.

Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon hope to reflect the diversity of the global population of innovators and leaders who will impact the future of technology industries and universities.

The MET program takes two years to complete. Carnegie Mellon is the only institution to offer graduate students a chance to get their degrees in entertainment technology.

Many MET graduates pursue careers in graphic art, game design, and computer programming. Over the past six years, 160 students have graduated with an MET.

“We create a shared culture that transcends geographic, cultural, and even intellectual boundaries,” said Don Marinelli, the ETC’s global executive producer. “We bring technologists and artists together to learn, explore, and create,” Marinelli said.

In addition to the diversity scholarship, Microsoft granted the University $795,000 in philanthropic support.

Carnegie Mellon used the grant for funding faculty and student programs in areas ranging from robotics and computer science to design and engineering.

Microsoft’s ties with Carnegie Mellon are not solely financial, however.

Microsoft employs more than 220 Carnegie Mellon alumni and participates in the Technical Opportunities Conference (TOC) each year.

Projects at the ETC integrate the artistic and technical backgrounds of students. The ETC is currently working on many innovative, dynamic projects.

In collaboration with the New York Fire Department, the ETC is currently working on Hazmat Hotzone, an interactive training program that trains emergency workers how to respond to hazardous materials emergencies.

Animatronics is another large program at the ETC, and is responsible for animated robots. In fact, the center has its own, called Horatio “Doc” Beardsley.

“Doc” answers questions about himself and can carry on a conversation. When asked why he was wearing a Carnegie Mellon sweatshirt, he responded, “I’ve spent time at many universities. You’d be surprised at the things they throw away.”

Improvements with animatronic characters could pave the way for interactive electronic pets or robotic waiters and salespeople.

Interbots was a student research project at the ETC originating with some of its students.

Quasi, the original robot built in the spring of 2004, was created by a team whose members had backgrounds in various fields such as industrial design, graphic design, robotics, human-computer interaction, psychology, and theater.

The robot is known for its unique personality and its natural interactions with ETC visitors.

Quasi is only one aspect of the technology coming out of the ETC. CMU and Microsoft hope that the new scholarship will bring more students to the ETC, and increase the possibility of developing new technology.

Marinelli described the people at the ETC “They don’t stay ‘inside the box.’ Instead, they go out the window and up the wall.ETC’s gaming experts are seeking to transform the way multimedia games are played, whom they reach and what new breakthroughs they can generate.”