Campus news in brief

Shaw wins national medal for technology

Mary Shaw, the Alan J. Perlis university professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, has been selected by President Barack Obama to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor in recognizing technological achievements.

“Building the reliable software systems that are the bedrock of commerce and communication today would not be possible without the engineering principles for large-scale software architecture pioneered by Mary and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon,” said Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh in a university press release.

“Her hard work as a software engineer and educator has made CMU a leader in the field. This national recognition for her contributions to technology and society is richly deserved, and all of us at CMU join in congratulating her,” Suresh continued.

Shaw has been a part of the School of Computer Science faculty since 1971 and has done pioneering work in the field of software architecture (the large-scale structure of software systems).
Shaw was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation this year, accompanying ten new recipients of the National Medal of Science.

Shaw and the rest of the award recipients will receive their medals at a White House ceremony later this year.

“CMU and the city of Pittsburgh are so lucky to have had Mary living and working here over the years,” said Andrew W. Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science, in a university press release. “The discipline of computer science on campus and around the world grew through her; her influence is exerted every day through the thousands of influential leaders in the software industry who have been trained here.”

CMU leads NSF project on learning, data

Carnegie Mellon professor of human-computer interaction and psychology Kenneth Koedinger will lead a $5 million early implementation project sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to mine vast amounts of educational data and create a large, distributed infrastructure called LearnSphere.

“We’ve seen the power that data has to improve performance in many fields, from medicine to movie recommendations,” Koedinger said in a university press release. “Educational data holds the same potential to guide the development of courses that enhance learning. Gathering more of this data also promises to give us a deeper understanding of the learning process.”

Researchers for the initiative will help course instructors improve teaching methods by looking at the data generated by interactive tutoring systems, educational games, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

LearnSphere received one of 14 data-driven research awards given by the NSF, totaling more than $31 million, as part of the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBS) program.

“NSF has an ambitious vision for advancing scientific frontiers through an enabling and collaborative data infrastructure,” said Irene Qualters, NSF division director for advanced cyberinfrastructure, in the press release. “We are particularly pleased that this year’s DIBBs awards include this CMU-led project to build on the NSF-sponsored Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center’s DataShop repository for educational researchers.”

LearnSphere also ties into the university’s Simon Initiative, which aims to use data and technology to improve how students learn. The Simon DataLab was launched last year with the goal of making student-teacher interaction data more accessible to instructors. The new infrastructure being created as part of LearnSphere aims to further improve on this effort.