Campus news in brief

A CMU sophomore wins a Critical Language Scholarship to study Punjabi in India this summer, and Professor Manuela Veloso is appointed as the new head of the Machine Learning Department.

CMU sophomore Ian Asenjo wins Critical Language Scholarship from State Dept.

This week, Ian Asenjo, a sophomore global studies major with an additional major in ethics, history, and public policy, was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department, which will give him the opportunity to spend his summer in Chandigarh, India studying Punjabi.

This cultural and linguistic immersion program is intended to encourage students to study languages that are drastically different from English. Many American language learners do not choose to master these languages due to the drastic differences, and we do not have enough native speakers. With supply low, demand is high for speakers of these critical languages, such as Arabic, Swahili, Urdu, Turkish, and Punjabi.

Asenjo discovered his passion for this region of India and this language through his involvement with the Carnegie Mellon Bhangra team and through Associate Professor of History Nico Slate’s course “India through Film.” At this point in time, Asenjo’s only exposure to Punjabi has been through weekly attendance at a Sikh temple in Monroeville. His choice of Punjabi comes from an appreciation of the culture surrounding it, which he has only experienced secondhand to this point. He looks forward to learning the language and absorbing the traditions for himself this summer.

Professor Manuela Veloso appointed as head of Machine Learning Department

Dean of the School of Computer Science Andrew Moore announced on Wednesday March 23 that Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Computer Science Manuela Veloso would become the new head of the the Machine Learning Department. Stepping down from the position is E. Fredkin University Professor Tom Mitchell, who was the department’s founding head.

Veloso has been a member of the Carnegie Mellon community since she earned her Ph.D. in computer science here in 1992. Since then she has led the Carnegie Mellon robot soccer team to five world championships in its league and has also developed the Cobot service robots. Her research has challenged her to continually improve robots’ ability to independently plan and execute tasks, and learn and cooperate with a team under challenging circumstances.

She co-founded the International RoboCup Federation and until 2014, Veloso was the president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Also in 2014, she was given the distinction of University Professor, the highest honor the university can give its faculty. She has also long advocated for women in computer science. Last fall in Houston, Texas she presented the keynote address at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Dean Moore expressed his utmost confidence in Veloso for the position in a press release on Wednesday: “Her knowledge of all aspects of AI and her dedication make her the perfect person to lead MLD now that machine learning has emerged as a major component of the world’s economy.”