Campus News in Brief

LTI translates Haitian Creole

The Language Technologies Institute (LTI) has recently released its textual and spoken data on Haitian Creole, the most common language spoken in Haiti. (Hatian Creole and French share official language status.) This data is useful, as language has proven to be a barrier in the attempts of doctors, nurses, and various aid workers to help the Haitian population since the earthquake nearly three weeks ago.
The LTI — a branch of the School of Computer Science that also focuses on subjects such as speech processing and computer-assisted language learning — has been using this data to develop a new version of an outdated translation system that was first created in the 1990s for a project under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Researchers at Microsoft have also been using the data to create a web-based system for translating between English and Haitian Creole.
Furthermore, a nonprofit organization, Translators Without Borders, plans on giving out a medical triage dictionary as soon as these data are available in a readable format.
These parallel efforts are part of a wider relief effort around the world. The LTI has emphasized that there are many diverse and nontraditional ways in which one can help those suffering in Haiti.

John Kitchin wins research grant

John Kitchin, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, was recently awarded a five-year $750,000 Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant will be used to develop new materials in electrochemistry that will allow scientists to derive hydrogen and oxygen from water.
Kitchin’s contributions to his field are particularly noteworthy when considering he only completed his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2004. Kitchin hopes that his research will provide for a more efficient means of producing hydrogen from water, which will hopefully lead to the development of energy systems that can store renewable energy in chemical form. Kitchin’s research lays a foundation for the production of a biomass that could possibly fuel everything from cars to factories. Moreover, Kitchin stated in a press release on the Carnegie Mellon website that the oxygen produced “may play a crucial role in helping to manage the CO2 emissions through advanced fossil energy power systems such as oxycombustion and gasification.”
This award is funded by the Early Career Research Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Kitchin is one of 69 professors nationwide to receive funding under this act.