ETC explores media projects in educational partnership

Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) will be partnering with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania (TCCP) this semester to form a new center aimed at training people for technology-based jobs.

The new facility, called the Center for Advanced Entertainment & Learning Technologies (CAELT), will gear students toward careers in the global economy, particularly in the rapidly merging fields of fine arts and computer science.

“This partnership announcement is a perfect example of the substantial results that can be achieved when outstanding organizations work together, and it is the kind of partnership that Harrisburg University was created to undertake,” Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed told ETC.

Students in the center will be expected to work on various new technologies that will further education and support the economy.

Don Marinelli, executive producer of the ETC and a professor of drama and arts management at CMU, stated in a Harrisburg University press release, “Not only do we develop and implement new technologies, we also seek out new approaches to education and pedagogy. Harrisburg University and the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania have shown themselves to be willing ‘early adopters’ of new technologies. That is what makes this partnership so exciting.

“They are placing Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania on the cutting edge of new technology implementation that may impact American education in truly significant ways.”

Students and faculty at the new facility will begin work on several projects this semester, including designing an internship interviewing program for TCCP’s TechQuest Internship, based on Carnegie Mellon’s Synthetic Interview technology.

This project aims to create an automated internship interviewing process, allowing students to interact with synthetic interviewers online, thereby streamlining the interviewing and screening process.

Synthetic interviews were developed at Carnegie Mellon by Scott Stevens and Michael Christel, researchers in the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering Institute. They allow users to converse with an individual or character as if the character were actually present.

TCCP president Kelly Lewis stated in a Carnegie Mellon press release, “[Synthetic interviewing] allows interviewers and human resource professionals to converse in-depth with a student’s virtual self, permitting them to ask questions in a conversational manner — just as they would if they were speaking to the student face-to-face.”

Another project that the collaborative team will undertake this semester is the creation of a virtual tour of Harrisburg University’s new Academic Center, a 16-story building currently under construction.

This project will combine game creation platforms with Synthetic Interview technology to allow prospective students to virtually tour the Academic Center and interact with Harrisburg University staff and faculty.

Harrisburg University is the only private, non-profit, comprehensive university chartered in Pennsylvania besides Carnegie Mellon, giving the two universities a similar historical background.

With the construction of this center, Harrisburg University will also become home to the second Synthetic Interview studio in the world.

The ETC is already wellknown for its numerous collaborators, who are pioneers in the fields of computer science and imaging, including Intel, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Electronic Arts (EA), Kodak, and several other high-profile companies. Students in the center’s Masters program take programming and project courses.

The Center for Advanced Entertainment & Learning Technologies will be situated on Harrisburg University’s Strawberry Square campus and is expected to open this fall.