News Update :: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

News

Carnegie Mellon Undergrads Take Business Plan Honors

Seven Carnegie Mellon University students and a student from the University of Pittsburgh are sharing a $10,000 prize as winners of the Tepper Venture Challenge, an undergraduate business plan competition held last week at Carnegie Mellon.

The winning plan, dubbed Envivial, would provide turnkey technology to consumer research firms. This technology features three-dimensional communities that are created to replicate real-world stores. It combines video game and three-dimensional software to allow research firms to get instant, inexpensive feedback on consumer behavior.

University of Pittsburgh student Andrew Reichert won the second prize of $3,000 for Acadaid. This proposed company would provide financial aid services to ensure that college students are receiving all the financial aid to which they are entitled. The company would prepare financial aid applications using the government's methodology to make certain that applications are filled out correctly and submitted in a timely fashion.

Medimaging won the third prize award of $2,000. The technology would enable customers to do image-based searching across different databases, rather than using current text-based index searching.

Undergraduate students from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Chatham College, and St. Vincent College participated in the competition. Thirty-four entries were received and participation increased significantly over previous years. For more information, click here.

Negroponte Says ‘One Laptop Per Child’ Project on Course

MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte last week offered an update on his “One Laptop Per Child” project, which is aimed at creating a $100 laptop to boost educational possibilities in countries where people can't afford to buy computers for their children.

Speaking at Linuxworld in Boston, Negroponte said the project plans to ship 5 to 10 million units by early 2007 to countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Thailand. The project has received as much as $29 million in funding from companies including Advanced Micro Devices, Google, Quanta Computer, and Red Hat.

The laptop features a small display, no hard disk, and has a hand crank to deliver power. Negroponte announced that the hand crank will be placed on its AC power adapter instead of on the computer itself. In addition, the hand crank may be turned into a foot pedal so that it'll be easier to use. Negroponte will also work with Microsoft to develop a compatible version of Windows CE for this low-cost laptop. For more information, click here.

World Wide Web Consortium Opens China Office

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a standards-setting organization for Web technology integration, has opened up an office in Beijing to encourage Chinese technology experts to join in the process of developing Web standards. The office will be based at the Advanced Computing Technologies School of Computer Science & Engineering of Beihang University in Beijing. Steve Bratt, chief executive officer of W3C, along with representatives of Chinese industries and research institutes, will inaugurate the office at a ceremony on April 27.

W3C officials said they believe it is important that the Web industry in China use international standards and actively participate in developing them. “To achieve its goal for the full potential for the Web, W3C needs Chinese expertise,” said an official from the consortium. “By opening its mainland China office, W3C actively engages the Chinese industrial and academic communities in the development of international Web standards.” For more information click here.

Geospatial Group Tackles Digital Rights Management Spec

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), a standards body for geographic information systems and data sharing, has proposed a Web services specification that it says will allow for broader use of geodata while also protecting the rights of geospatial data developers and producers. The standard, called the Geospatial Digital Rights Management (GeoDRM) reference model, will be valuable for universities that lend data in the way that libraries lend books.

Comments on the proposed specification will be accepted until May 3, 2006. Comments will be consolidated and reviewed before it g'es to a vote for adoption by the OGC as an OpenGIS specification. OGS said OpenGIS standards support interoperable solutions that 'geo-enable' the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. For more information, click here.

RPI, Hawaii Team Develop Nano-Brushes for Nano-Dust

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Hawaii have developed the smallest nano-tools on record. These “nano-brushes” have bristles that are more than a thousand times finer than a human hair. The instruments can be used as electronic micro-switches, and can also be used for sweeping up nano-dust, painting micro capillaries, and cleaning up pollutants in water.

The bristles are made out of tiny straw-like molecules about 30-billionths of a meter across. Because of their strength, the nanobrushes may be superior to metal brushes now used in high-power motors. Conventional brush bristles, which are made of animal hairs, synthetic polymer fibers, and metal wires, are prone to breaking down at the nano-scale. To work at the nano-scale, researchers realized that a different kind of material was needed. The small size, strength, elasticity, and ability to conduct electricity make carbon nanotubes ideal bristle material at the nano-scale. For more information, click here.

Caltech Scientist's Comic Strip Gets 3.5 Million Views a Month

Jorge Cham, a mechanical engineering instructor at Caltech, has created a comic strip about academic life that has become a cult classic in the higher ed community. The strip, 'Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD),' receives over 3.5 million page views per month, according to Cham, who created the comic strip while he was a graduate student at Stanford.

The strip’s popularity has been growing since it first appeared in the Stanford Daily newspaper eight years ago. It also appears in the MIT and Carnegie Mellon newspapers, and has even been noted in the scientific journal, Nature. Cham splits his time between Caltech and lecturing around the country. One of his standard talks is on 'The Power of Procrastination,' aimed at helping stressed-out grad students relax. Its main message is that they are not alone in their struggles.

'Jorge Cham's humorous talks and comic strips have been a giant plus in helping graduate students acknowledge and cope with the stress they experience,' said Isaac Colbert, dean of graduate students at MIT. For more information, click here.
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