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“Don’t change the curriculum. Change the culture.”

That’s the approach of Lenore Blum, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 1999. Rather than changing or “dumbing down” the curriculum, CMU established mentorship programs offering support and continuity from faculty.

Read all about it in the article by CNN Tech’s by Sara Ashley O’Brien, excerpted below.

cmu-women-qatar

“So many eligible women.”

That’s how Carnegie Mellon’s Lenore Blum referred to this year’s applicants for CMU’s School of Computer Science. Women make up 48% of incoming freshman this year — a new high for the school.

There were nearly 7,000 applicants for the program this year. It accepted just 166, which is about 30% larger than in past years.

The percent of women in the class far surpasses the national average of 16.5% for undergraduate computer science programs, according to the Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey.

Blum, who teachers computer science, said there was no talk of “lowering of the bar” at CMU to do so.

“Every year, we get more and more women. And every year, it seems like all the scores and stats go up. It is competitive to get into our program,” Blum said.

Related: Women coders do better than men in gender-blind study

That stands in contrast to the commonly-cited “pipeline problem,” which some in Silicon Valley use as the reason their companies aren’t diverse — that there simply aren’t enough minority or female STEM graduates.

Blum said blaming the pipeline is a “mistake.”

“You start with the group you have,” she added, noting that this year’s achievement reflects incremental growth over several decades.

While Harvey Mudd College credited a redesigned curriculum, for bringing in and retaining more female students, Blum and CMU have taken a very different approach.

When Blum joined CMU in 1999, she said there was serious talk of changing the curriculum to attract more women. “I said, ‘No way. You change the culture — not the curriculum.’”

Instead, Blum started Women@SCS, a mentorship organization for female computer science students. Unlike many organizations that are student-run, this particular group is led by faculty, which means there’s continuity even when students graduate. “You need the guidance and institutional support and the memory,” Blum said.

“Encouraging women by giving them a support system and a sense of community is a good idea,” Macallan Cruff, an 18-year-old CMU freshman told CNNMoney. “Don’t dumb down the curriculum.”

Cruff said she’s been pleasantly surprised to see a 50/50 split of men and women in her courses, compared to about four women in a class of 25 in her high school computer science class.

Related: Parents, yes! Your princesses can code

Cruff hopes schools will work to foster a sense of community for students at a much younger age. As a junior in high school, Cruff formed a “Coding Club” at a nearby elementary school to start introducing programming to girls in the third grade.

Blum said Carnegie Mellon is also focused on reaching students before they even enter college. It trains high school teachers on the latest programming languages, which encourages them to spread the word about CMU to their students.

She stressed the importance of having the administration put money behind the school’s efforts and not solely rely on grants.

Blum noted that Silicon Valley has been recruiting Carnegie Mellon’s graduates, an obvious move given that most tech companies are looking for talented candidates, especially female ones.

But she said it could compromise the number of women going on to get computer science PhDs. “I have concerns about that,” she said.

What pipeline problem? Carnegie Mellon nears gender parity CNNMoney (New York) / First published September 16, 2016: 10:13 AM ET

ImaginePittsburgh.com

Uber’s driverless vehicles — the first to hit American roadways — have begun picking up passengers in Pittsburgh.

In a race with Google and Tesla to bring autonomous vehicles to market, Uber is poised to leap ahead thanks in part to the talented engineers that emerge from Carnegie Mellon University, Bloomberg News, Forbes and others have reported.

A few of Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle began appearing on Pittsburgh streets around Labor Day, with a fleet of 100 to be rolled out by year’s end. Cars in Pittsbugh will have safety drivers and co-pilots.

Uber began operating in Allegheny County in early 2014, and recently expanded service to several adjacent counties. In February 2015, the San Francisco based company partnered with CMU to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center just off campus, foucsing on developing long-term technologies. The partnership includes collaboration between Uber and the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville around mapping, vehicle safety and autonomy technology.

Check out the Bloomberg’s video here, and read the full article here.

 

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Pittsburgh has jobs: more than 20,000 across 10 counties, including at Uber. Tap into ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers and industries.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

 

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Kris B. Mamula reported recently, additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — has broad implications for the region. Pittsburgh still makes things — in new, flexible ways. 

Published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette under the headline CMU center relives city’s industrial past / July 23, 2016

 

Part of Pittsburgh’s industrial past was reborn Friday in a sleek new building on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.

The university announced a collaboration of industry, academia and government as part of its year-old NextManufacturing Center. Attending the kickoff reception were faculty, students and business owners who are interested in reinventing how things are made in the 21st century.

Additive manufacturing — sometimes called 3D printing — is the biggest thing to happen in metallurgy in 50 years and one with broad implications for the Western Pennsylvania economy, said Anthony Rollett, associate director of the NextManufacturing Center.

“This will change the way people think about making things,” said Mr. Rollett, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering. “You’re going to see it pop up in many different ways and it will have a broad and pervasive economic impact.”

Additive manufacturing shapes layers of metal bits, liquid polymers or other materials into aerospace parts, biomedical devices and wide variety of other items. Historically, metal parts have been cast from molten metal, which is a slower process with less flexibility.

CMU’s center is the second of its kind in the region — the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering in June announced plans to open the Ansys Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory.

U.S. Steel Corp., a corporate name synonymous with Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage, was among 11 companies that signed on as founding members of the new consortium at CMU. Others include Alcoa, Ansys Inc. Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. and General Electric Co.

In April, GE announced the investment of $39 million in an advanced manufacturing research center in Findlay. GE’s Center for Additive Technology Advancement employs 22 engineers and plans to add another 28 high-tech workers next years.

Additive manufacturing also has big implications for biomedical devices, said Adam Feinberg, associate professor materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering. Making catheters that are tailored to the individual patient is among many opportunities offered by the technology, he said.

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Wondering about the implications for your own future? Check out ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers, industries and the more than 20,000 jobs open now on our custom-built aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

Four years ago, Mark Zuckerberg came to Pittsburgh to recruit for his iconic Silicon Valley company, noting that Carnegie Mellon University grads were among his best engineers. Now, a highly-valued Facebook subsidiary is opening a research office in Pittsburgh, the better to scoop up that talent more quickly.

Oculus VR, Inc., which Facebook acquired for $2 billion in 2014, will lease space in Elmhurst Group’s new Schenley Place in central Oakland, a few blocks from CMU. A small team of researchers is to move in this spring, and several job openings at the virtual reality gearmaker may be found here.

FacebookOculusIPFeature2016The move is seen as another “proof point” for Pittsburgh as a magnet for global tech players. Google, Uber, Apple, Disney, Yahoo and Intel are just a few of the firms with R&D offices in the region. Graduates from CMU, the University of Pittsburgh and other universities are the draw.

“It’s very good news for Pittsburgh,”  Elmhurst Group President and CEO William E. Hunt told KDKA-TV. “It’s an advancement in the technology sector, so that’s good for everybody in Pittsburgh.” Oculus will lease 20,000 square feet of space at the seven-story Schenley Place, located at the corner of Bayard Street and Bigelow Boulevard.

Oculus was founded in 2012, and is soon to roll-out its Oculus Rift virtual reality system with wrap-around headset, which will retail for $600. VR headsets that interact with Samsung Galaxy smartphones are already on the market for $100. 

The immediate use for VR technology is for video games, but Zuckerberg has envisioned more far-reaching uses. 

“Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” he said upon Facebook’s purchase of Oculus. “This is really a new communication platform (in which) you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.”

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Mulling a career change? Check out ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore the region’s trending careers, industries and the more than 20,000 jobs open now on our custom-built aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

 

Bonnie Pfister

There are still a few tickets left for what promises to be a lively panel discussion among several Pittsburghregion women who are leading the way in innovation and technology.

Join us at the Fairmont Hotel downtown this Thursday, May 7 for breakfast, networking and discussion that kick off the 25th anniversary of the Greater Pittsburgh Athena Awards program.

Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the Athena Awards are unique among regional honors for professional women because of the focus on developing the next generation of female leaders through mentorship. They are convened by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, of which ImaginePittsburgh.com is an initiative.

Moderated by NEXTpittsburgh’s Tracy Certo, the panel will include:

  • Hahna Alexander, Co-Founder, SolePower
  • Ilana Diamond, Managing Director, AlphaLab Gear
  • Shelley Fant-Uku, President, FCG Solutions, Inc.
  • Nina Krietemeyer, Chief Executive Officer, Hirambo
  • Sarah A. Smyth, Service Delivery Supervisor, Chevron

Tickets are $30 and include continental breakfast. Buy them here at Athena-Pittsburgh.com.

 

 

Bonnie Pfister

Slide over, Silicon Valley; back off, Boston: Pittsburgh is a hotbed of companies looking for the best technology talent. Are you itching to be someplace where the work is dynamic and interesting — AND you can actually afford to live nearby and enjoy your free time? Pittsburgh could be just the ticket. Learn more here.

Here are just a few of the cool jobs on offer right now:

Senior Robotics Research Engineer at Carnegie Mellon University

Technical Solutions Consultant at Google

Software Engineer at UPMC’s Technology Development Center in popular Bakery Square

Lead Technical Platform Specialist at PNC Financial Service, Inc.

IT Security Manager at Industrial Scientific

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