Campus news in brief

CREATE Lab develops tool to simplify data

A new web tool developed in collaboration between senior system/software engineering major Saman Amirpour Amraii and post-doctoral researcher Amir Yahyavi at the CREATE Lab within the Robotics Institute called Explorable Visual Analytics, or EVA, enables researchers to interact with and make sense of large data sets. According to the university press release, “the tool uses a novel computer architecture that enables the analyst to explore raw data through dynamic visualizations with minimal time delay.”

With data sets of this size, researchers are usually dependent on automated processes that remove the element of human judgment, but with the tool, users can select portion of data to be analyzed. It then allows the user to select different parameters and changes the visual to the most appropriate graphic representation.

The system also stores the dataset at large on an external server and then downloads small portions of relevant data as they are analyzed. Amraii noted that keeping the system speedy was one of their main goals because “If it takes a half hour to get an answer to your query, you may forget why you asked in the first place.”

The team has tested their work on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics to analyze the racial makeup of Philadelphia neighborhoods, and they hope to explore data on global deforestation, data from the Department of Transportation, and simple business analytics.

The research is supported by Google and the tool can be accessed online at

Project RE_ to reuse, rebuild, and restore

Monday, Nov. 16, will be the official start of Project RE_, a vision that after 10 years of planning will finally become a reality. John Folan, a professor in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture, created the project as a way to help improve urban communities.

In an effort to encourage people to avoid wasting resources, Project RE_ strives to reuse materials that are already available. RE stands for the project’s goal of collaboration to reuse material, rebuild communities, and restore lives.

The event will oversee Folan joining with partners from Construction Junction (CJ) and the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP) to see the official start of the project, which will be a part of the School of Architecture’s Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS).

Construction Conjunction will provide materials from their deconstruction projects while collaborating with TIP and UDBS to develop methods of processing the materials and re-imagining their use through design.

Monday’s dedication takes place at 3:30 at Project RE_’s hub housed in Construction Conjunction. In attendance will be Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and University Provost Farnam Jahanian, all of whom have played a part in the creation of this project.