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1. Graduates Urged To Stand for Truth, Find Their Purpose

Commencement 2017

Commencement Speaker Meg Whitman, president and chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, encouraged graduates at Carnegie Mellon University's 120th Commencement to stand for truth, free speech and civility.

"This country desperately needs the skills you have developed during your years at Carnegie Mellon University," Whitman told the graduates. "But it needs something more than your skills; it needs your ideals. You leave this great university as better men and women than when you arrived — more knowledgeable and better educated, I'm sure, but I trust wiser and more hopeful."

Whitman encouraged the Class of 2017 to be women and men who spend their lives in an objective reality and who have the courage to speak truth to power even when there may be a cost.

"If you do — if you are defenders of truth in an age marked by lies — it will have a liberating effect on our fellow citizens and make more possible all good things in life," Whitman said.

She also encouraged them to stand up for free speech and welcome dialogue.

"Too many of us live in intellectual silos, where we seek out people and information that simply reinforces our existing opinions. Venture out of those silos," she said. "Be the generation that embodies real tolerance, genuine inquiry and authentic open-mindedness."

Student speaker Chrystal Thomas received a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and was the first CMU student to be named a Schwarzman Scholar. Thomas attended CMU's Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science prior to college and she shared some of the challenges she overcame.

"As someone from a town where high school students thought they couldn't go to college if they didn't have money," she said. "I am immensely proud to be part of the campus and I am so proud to be able to walk with you today."

Thomas encouraged her classmates to center their lives around impacting others and to let purpose guide them.

"We should reflect on purpose because it develops us, keeps us resilient and can lead us to happiness," said Thomas, who will be pursuing a master's degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

She said happiness comes in three levels: from building something; when others praise what you have built; and when what you have built changes someone's life. Thomas said the third path is the most satisfying.

"That path makes you feel the most fulfilled, the path that gives you the greatest happiness — can give you insight on purpose," she said.

Alumni Association Board President Deborah Yue urged the new CMU alumni to stay true to themselves.

"Continue to be intellectually curious and continue to learn. Be supportive of each other as well as for those who are following in your footsteps. Go outside of your comfort zone and embrace your vision for the future," Yue said.

CMU President Subra Suresh told the graduates that those gathered for the day were very proud of their accomplishments.

"With a CMU degree you are well prepared to separate signal from noise, fact from fiction and evidence from a mere innuendo. As you accomplish much, we expect you to return to this campus sharing your knowledge and experiences," Suresh said. "Whatever you do, where ever you live, you will have a profound impact on the world with a CMU degree. I cannot wait to see how you change the world."

He challenged them to think about what they could accomplish and where their paths might lead.

"You were my freshman class and so you were my special class of students forever, and with whom I have bonded so much over the past four years," said Suresh, who arrived at CMU four years ago. "I will always be connected with you."

In addition to Whitman, CMU's 2017 honorary degree recipients are:

Mahzarin R. Banaji, the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University and a renowned experimental psychologist, received a Doctor of Science and Technology degree.

Vivian Davidson Hewitt, who has enjoyed an illustrious career as a prominent librarian and African-American art collector, was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She graduated from CMU in 1944.

Michael Keaton, a critically acclaimed actor, producer, director and visiting CMU scholar was presented with a Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

Bernard Osher, a patron of education and the arts who has pursued a successful career in business, received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Learn more about the honorary degree recipients.

A total of 4,883 undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred, which included graduates from CMU programs based in Silicon Valley, Qatar and Rwanda.



2. Three Professors Earn Highest Faculty Distinction

Three Carnegie Mellon University faculty members, Alan Frieze, Martin Gaynor and Susan Tsu, have been named University Professors, the highest designation a faculty member can achieve. The faculty members were nominated and recommended for the title of University Professor by academic leaders and the community of CMU University Professors.

"University Professors are distinguished by international recognition and for their contributions to education, artistic creativity and/or research. Alan, Martin, and Susan each exemplify this high level of achievement and commitment to both the university and the broader academic communities," said CMU Provost Farnam Jahanian.

Alan Frieze, professor of mathematics in the Mellon College of Science, is one of the founders of the field of random discrete structures and has remained at the forefront of that field for 35 years. Image of Alan FriezeIn 1991, he received the prestigious Fulkerson Prize for his work on computing the volume of a convex body. His contributions to graph theory led to a plenary address at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians in 2014, a degree of recognition accorded to only a handful of mathematicians. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Frieze is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He has developed innovative new curriculum at CMU, cofounding the interdisciplinary Algorithms, Combinatotics and Optimization Ph.D. program, which currently has 21 Ph.D. students across three schools and colleges

Martin Gaynor is the E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy in the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. Image of Marty GaynorGaynor has devoted his research to the economics of health care, a field in which he is considered one of the preeminent scholars. One of his most important findings — that competition among hospitals lowers prices and produces better health outcomes even when consumers are heavily insured — fundamentally changed accepted wisdom about health care markets and the nature of competition. He served as the Director of the Bureau of Economics at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2013-2014, where he was responsible for all economic matters and advised the Commission on antitrust and consumer protection issues. Elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2016, he is the recipient of a number of awards for his research, including the Best Paper Award in Economic Policy from the American Economic Association, the Victor R. Fuchs Research Award and the Kenneth J. Arrow Award.

Susan Tsu holds the Bessie F. Anathan Professorship in the College of Fine Arts (CFA) in recognition of her outstanding career in the School of Drama. Image of Susan TsuShe is a leader in the field of costume design, achieving early success as the original designer for the Broadway musical "Godspell." She has designed over 100 productions, including benchmark international productions of "The Joy Luck Club" in China and "The Balcony" at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia. A double alumna of CFA, Tsu's designs have been represented in more than a dozen books. She has served on National Endowment for the Arts granting panels, the Theatre Communications Group board of directors, and has been a curator for the Prague Quadrennial and Bakhrushin Museum in Moscow. Her awards include the NY Drama Desk, NY Drama Critics and a Kennedy Center Medal of Achievement. In 2016, she was accorded the Theatre Development Fund Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the national professional community of costume designers.



3. Carnegie Mellon Qatar Graduates Largest Class

By Angela Ford

Image of graduating student
Maher Khan earned degrees in both computer science and information systems from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, which celebrated graduation on May 1.

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) celebrated its milestone 10th graduation with its largest class to date: 109 students were recognized in the presence of family, friends, faculty and alumni.

Ilker Baybars, dean and CEO of CMU-Q, reminded students how far they have come since arriving at the university.

"You worked hard from the start, learning to use creativity, collaboration and tenacity to solve problems," Baybars said. "You have learned that leadership cannot exist without teamwork. Every one of you has added to the Carnegie Mellon community."

This year's graduating class consists of 41 business administration students, 33 information systems students, 19 biological sciences students and 16 computer science students. This is an accomplished class academically, with 70 percent completing a minor and 53 percent received University Honors for earning a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5.

Commencement speaker and CMU President Subra Suresh, sent the students forth with a charge to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that involves bringing together the digital, biological and physical worlds.

"Our challenge is to continuously strive to understand the far-reaching implications of this Fourth Industrial Revolution," Suresh said. "I am confident that you are supremely prepared to take up this task and guide humanity to a more prosperous future."

Image of graduation speaker holding a rubiks cube
The student speaker for the Class of 2017 was Ibrahim Soltan, an information systems graduate with a business administration minor.

"While it is true that individual classes taught us math and science and programming and rhetoric, and biology, the overall CMU-Q experience has taught us how to identify and solve problems," Soltan said. "From small puzzles to grand challenges like autonomous cars or robotic limbs, we are at the forefront of entrepreneurship and innovation. And that is because we are taught how to solve problems."

The class of 2017 raises the number of CMU-Q alumni to 679; they join a worldwide Carnegie Mellon network of more than 100,000 graduates.

Watch the ceremony.



4. Hill Worked To Support Students, Promote Inclusion

By Bruce Gerson

Image of Gloria Hill

Gloria Hill, an adviser and mentor to thousands of students at Carnegie Mellon University for more than three decades, and a champion for diversity and inclusion at the university, died on Wednesday, May 3. She was 70.

Hill's many devoted contributions to CMU were aimed at supporting students and student life, and promoting an inclusive university community.

Hill joined CMU in 1972 as an academic adviser and her rapport with students combined with her endearing personality led her to build a stellar reputation among students, faculty and staff across campus. She became director of the Carnegie Mellon Action Project (CMAP), an academic support center for under-represented minority students, and then assistant vice provost for education. From 2004-2008 she was the liaison between CMU in Pittsburgh and its newly launched campus in Doha, Qatar.

"Gloria Hill's legacy is one that will be felt for decades as we chart the meaningful connection countless alumni have to their alma mater," said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Gina Casalegno. "Her influence on students was instrumental in cultivating a sense of belonging and mentoring student success. Gloria was one of the pillars of this community who brought her great intellect, grace and heart to the work for 35 years. She is deeply missed by all who knew and loved her."

Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert remembers Hill as a passionate educator and tireless student advocate who taught many key lessons to her students and colleagues.

"She recognized the important role of connections and community, and served as a bridge between people, programs, cultures and campuses. Perhaps most importantly, she taught us we all have a role to play in making the community better and she challenged and partnered with all she met to do just that," Burkert said.

Professor and Vice Provost Emeritus Indira Nair said students loved Hill, and learned and thrived from her sound counsel.

"I first came to know of Gloria as students spoke of her with immense respect and love, but with a clear understanding that 'Dr. Hill' will expect the best from them," Nair said. "Gloria's advice was pragmatic — about attending class, asking questions, going to office hours, and making sure to get tutoring as needed.

"The famed Summer Boot Camp — six weeks of authentic college experience for admitted minority students was a national model, and one she adapted with great success at CMU-Qatar. Gloria trained and mentored her staff, too, to give the best, and to get the best from students. Her smile, grace and generosity will stay with me always," Nair said.

Ty Walton worked under Hill as assistant director of CMAP, and is now director of the Carnegie Mellon Advising Resource Center, CMAP's successor.

"I worked with her for over 30 years. I knew her as a student advocate and a person who made pathways for student success," Walton said. "She was a proponent for diversity before the word became popular."

Damian Dourado, director of pre-college programs at CMU-Qatar, said Hill was a "mother figure" to students and her staff.

"She was willing to celebrate the success and also have the tough conversations when necessary," said Dourado, who worked under Hill at CMAP. "She truly cared about their growth, development and overall well-being.

"I also came to find out that this was not just her approach to students, but to her staff as well. On the CMAP staff I felt like I was part of a family. Her investment in me went far beyond my job responsibilities," he said.

Bob Patterson, a 1989 CMU graduate in mechanical engineering, reaped the benefits of Hill's work. A chief strategist for IoT Data and Analytics for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, he said Hill made students feel special.

"Every single student walked away feeling that they were her favorite. That's the level of impact she had over 35 years," said Patterson, deputy director of Carnegie Mellon's Black Alumni Association.

Joseph E. Devine, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Dietrich College, said Hill lifted him up personally and professionally.

"Gloria epitomized style, refinement, grace, wit and the unwavering dedication to the well-being of students in her charge that only the finest educators exhibit. Every day was a better day when it included Gloria. I miss her greatly and am a better person and educator for having known and worked with her," Devine said.

In 2008, Hill rose to the rank of assistant dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and director of its Academic Advisory Center (AAC), which provides information, advice and counsel for students who have yet to declare a major course of study. 

Hill helped to mold the AAC into a haven, where students can turn to during their transition into college life. She encouraged students and aided them in developing realistic goals and objectives. Former Dietrich College Dean John Lehoczky said Hill transformed the center to provide excellent advising and mentorship to first- and second-year students and created a sense of unity among Dietrich students.

Eric Grotzinger, senior adviser for student success, said Hill helped him see things from the students' perspective.

"Gloria's intelligence, enthusiasm, charm, and dynamic personality made her a most treasured colleague. She was my go-to-person in helping underrepresented students achieve their maximum potential at Carnegie Mellon," said Grotzinger, former associate dean for undergraduate affairs at the Mellon College of Science. "Working with Gloria helped me to better understand some of the complex issues that students face and that in turn made me not only a better mentor but also a better person."

Hill retired from CMU in July 2015.

A university celebration honoring Hill's legacy is being planned for the fall.



5. Could an App Help End Pre-Term Birth?

By Adam Dove

Image of the feet of a baby and hands of a mother

Approximately one out of every 10 children born in the United States is born pre-term — prior to 37 weeks of gestation.

A team of Carnegie Mellon University decision scientists has partnered with maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC to develop and test an app to help reduce that number.

Pre-term birth is the leading cause of neonatal death, and can lead to long-lasting health problems, from low birth weight, to apnea, to increased risk of infection and more. These risks are particularly high among specific socioeconomic groups, including African-Americans and families living in poverty.

"Mobile phone apps are a great way to engage a vulnerable population in their health care, because approximately 86 percent of American adults own a mobile phone, regardless of racial and ethnic groups," said lead researcher Tamar Krishnamurti, an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. "Although hundreds of pregnancy-related apps exist, few have been developed through a scientific process that is patient-centered and grounded in behavioral decision research."

The app is designed to address some of the key risk factors that lead to poor neonatal health and pre-term birth: maternal weight gain, smoking, alcohol consumption, depression, intimate partner violence, poor attendance at prenatal appointments and more.

Researchers recruited study participants from Magee's outpatient clinic. Over three months, the app asked participants a series of questions once a day about their risk factors, then using computer algorithms, delivered patient-specific risk feedback and recommendations for the user. If it detected high-risk events such as intimate partner violence or thoughts of suicide, it sent real-time alerts to medical professionals, who would contact the women to connect them to appropriate services.

Additionally, the app provides services such as basic pregnancy education, appointment reminders, fetal health monitoring aids, quitting resources for drug and alcohol addiction and free transportation to and from prenatal appointments through Uber.

"Our goal with this app is to support women through their pregnancy," Krishnamurti said. "We hope that the app can both detect risks in a timely fashion and also reassure women that their pregnancy is progressing healthily when they are at low-risk for adverse events."

From here, the team will ramp up testing of the app, with plans for a randomized controlled trial over participants' entire pregnancy and evaluating the app's effects on behavioral and clinical outcomes.

"While we do not understand why certain socioeconomic groups are at a higher-risk for preterm birth, we do know that prenatal care that starts early in pregnancy is critical for a healthy baby and mother," said Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, professor and chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UPMC and part of the research team. "This pilot shows that smartphone apps are a promising and potentially cost-saving way to provide personalized care for the highest-risk patients."

"We are excited about the possibility of being able to roll our app out on a larger scale, making it more widely available to patients on a national and even international scale, and using it to better understand patients' needs," she said.

The research team also included EPP Assistant Professor Alex Davis, EPP Assistant Research Professor Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, and the Howard Heinz University Professor in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences Baruch Fischhoff. The clinical team consisted of Simhan and Director of the Magee-Womens Research Institute Dr. Yoel Sadovsky.



6. CMU Algorithm Wins International Strong Lens-Finding Challenge

By Jocelyn Duffy

Image of two galaxies
In the center of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. In this "happy face," the two eyes are very bright galaxies, and the misleading smile lines are arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's McWilliams Center for Cosmology has combined the university's expertise in astrophysics and machine learning to win an international strong lens-finding challenge organized by the European Space Agency's Euclid strong lensing working group.

"We were not the only team using machine learning in this challenge, but the fact that our algorithm ultimately won is a tribute to the quality of interdisciplinary research here at CMU, especially between astrophysics, computer science and statistics," said François Lanusse, a post-doctoral researcher in Carnegie Mellon's Department of Physics.

The challenge asked research groups to develop an automated method to find galaxies that were strongly bending light. In this phenomenon, called strong lensing, one large galaxy is situated directly in front of a second galaxy, causing the light from the second galaxy to bend and form an arc around the first galaxy. The shape of the arc can be used to determine how all matter, including dark matter, is distributed in the lensed galaxy.

"These rings, called Einstein rings, are a distinct feature, but can be hard to pick out of large astronomical datasets," said Rachel Mandelbaum, associate professor of physics who advised the team together with Assistant Professor of Machine Learning Barnabás Póczos. "Strongly lensed galaxies are quite rare, and we need a reliable, automated way to find them."

Image of black and white galaxies some with arcs around them
CMU DeepLens was able to discern between strong gravitational lenses (left) and objects that are not lenses (right).

The next generation of sky surveys, including the ground-based Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project (LSST), the space-based Euclid survey and NASA's space-based Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), will collect unprecedented amounts of data. Automated methodologies for sorting through this data to find interesting astronomical objects to study is essential. For example, there will only be a few hundred thousand to one million strongly lensed galaxies out of an estimated 20 billion galaxies in the LSST's data; finding one without the help of automation would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

For the challenge, the organizers created a simulated data set that contained information about strong-lens systems and systems that looked like they were strongly lensed, but were not. They asked competitors to create a method that could accurately identify strong lens candidates.

Lanusse and machine learning graduate student Eric Ma turned to deep learning, a field of machine learning that has had a great deal of success in image recognition problems, to attack the challenge. Their algorithm, CMU DeepLens, accurately identified the most strong lensing candidates within the data set, and had the least amount of errors. The results were especially striking given that many of the other algorithms entered in the competition had taken years to develop, and Lanusse and Ma developed their algorithm in less than two weeks.

"Our algorithm was amazingly powerful and capable of a high level of sophistication. It did a great job of discriminating between true strong lens systems and false data, and did better than human classification," Mandelbaum said.

CMU DeepLens is especially promising because it can work with cosmological data containing color information and data that does not. This is important because space-based surveys like Euclid do not collect color data, but ground-based surveys like the LSST can. The researchers have made the algorithm freely available, and hope that it will be used to analyze available and future cosmological data.

Machine learning post-doc Siamak Ravanbakhsh, machine learning graduate student Chun-Liang Li and others contributed to the development of CMU DeepLens.



7. Doctors Should Be Paid By Salary, Not Fee-for-Service, Argue Behavioral Economists

By Shilo Rea

Image of a doctor in a labcoat

In a Journal of the American Medical Association Viewpoint article, Carnegie Mellon University's George Loewenstein and the University of California, Los Angeles' Ian Larkin outline the problems associated with the fee-for-service arrangements that most doctors currently operate under. Such compensation schemes, they argue, create incentives for physicians to order more, and different, services than are best for patients.

"Fee-for-service payments have adverse consequences that dwarf those of the payments from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers that have received the lion's share of attention in the conflict of interest literature," said Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology at CMU and a leading expert on conflicts of interest. "Paying doctors to do more leads to over-provision of tests and procedures, which cause harms that go beyond the monetary and time costs of getting them. Many if not most tests and procedures cause pain and discomfort, especially when they go wrong."

One commonly proposed solution to the problem involves requiring physicians to disclose their financial interest for a given procedure. However, disclosure of conflicts has been found to have limited, or even negative, effects on patients.

Loewenstein and Larkin argue the simplest and most effective way to deal with conflicts caused by fee-for-service arrangements is to pay physicians on a straight salary basis. Several health systems well-known for high-quality of care, such as the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and the Kaiser group in California, pay physicians salaries without incentives for volume of services performed.

Moving more physicians to straight salary-based compensation might have benefits not only for patients but for physicians themselves.

"The high levels of job dissatisfaction reported by many physicians may result, in part, from the need to navigate the complexities of the fee-for-service arrangements," said Larkin, an assistant professor of strategy at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. "Instead of focusing on providing patients with the best possible medical care, physicians are forced to consider the ramifications of their decisions for their own paychecks."

Arthur L. Caplan, professor of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told Medscape he found Loewenstein and Larkin's piece to be "the most novel" in the May 2 JAMA issue dedicated to medical conflicts of interest.

In how they suggest using salaried compensation as a remedy for conflicts of interest that arise from fee-for-service incentives, Caplan said, "There's been a lot of talk about this, but not much had been written."

Loewenstein and Larkin also led a research study in the same issue of JAMA on how restricting pharmaceutical sales representatives' marketing tactics changes physician prescribing behavior.

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8. Whitman To Speak at 120th Commencement

By Abby Simmons

Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman, president and chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will be the speaker at Carnegie Mellon University's 120th Commencement. Whitman will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Practice degree.

Nearly 5,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees will be conferred at Carnegie Mellon's main commencement ceremony.

The student speaker is Chrystal Thomas, who will be receiving a bachelor's degree in biological sciences.

CMU's additional honorary degree recipients are:

  • Mahzarin R. Banaji, the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University and a renowned experimental psychologist, will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
  • Vivian Davidson Hewitt, who has enjoyed an illustrious career as a prominent librarian and African-American art collector, will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She graduated from CMU in 1944.
  • Michael Keaton, a critically acclaimed actor, producer, director and visiting CMU scholar will be presented with a Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
  • Bernard Osher, a patron of education and the arts who has pursued a successful career in business, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Learn more about the speakers and honorary degree recipients.

The ceremony will be webcast live at http://www.cmu.edu/commencement.

When: 11 a.m., Sunday, May 21 (rain or shine).

Where: Gesling Stadium, CMU campus.

Note: Media planning to attend Sunday's ceremony should contact Abby Simmons at 412-956-9425 or Ken Walters at 412-480-4396 for instructions on parking, photography and seating. Please wear press credentials.

Parking: Parking spaces for media will be located in the East Campus parking garage. Please contact Abby Simmons or Ken Walters if your vehicle won't fit in a parking garage.



9. Carnegie Mellon Offers New Master's Degree in Product Management

By Byron Spice

Image of a student

A new master's degree program at Carnegie Mellon University aims to teach computer scientists and engineers to become product managers, much sought-after specialists in technical organizations who shepherd new products to market.

A joint program of the university's School of Computer Science (SCS) and Tepper School of Business, the Master of Science in Product Management (MSPM) program will start January 2018.

The 12-month master's degree program provides the technical skills and business acumen students need to be successful in this high-demand area. A required internship and capstone project supply the practical skills students need to return to industry prepared for their new careers.

"A product manager is first and foremost the CEO of the product," said Bob Monroe, associate teaching professor in the Tepper School and co-director of the MSPM program. "They are responsible for building the right product to solve the right problem for the right customers, and selling it at the right price through the right distribution channels. They own and are responsible for the overall success of the product."

Because their roles involve technical knowhow and marketing savvy, good product managers must exhibit excellent interpersonal skills, business acumen and technical knowledge. Carnegie Mellon's MSPM degree builds on the university's global leadership in computer science and business to train these hard-to-find gems of the tech world.

"One message we consistently receive from industry is that truly good product managers are incredibly hard to find," said SCS Dean Andrew Moore. "In software companies, big and small, there is no such thing as a great product manager who doesn't combine technical excellence with passionate leadership, so SCS and Tepper School are the perfect partnership."

Carnegie Mellon has designed its MSPM program for early career professionals with an undergraduate degree in computer science, software engineering or computer engineering. Students will begin the program in January and spend one calendar year in Pittsburgh. SCS's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) will provide technical education in courses ranging from digital service innovation to data science for product managers. The Tepper School will supply courses on management topics that include marketing for high-tech product managers, product strategy, and managing people and teams.

"The MSPM program offers a deep dive into all the skills good product managers need to have," said program co-director Jason Hong, associate professor in the HCII. "This program will help technical professionals change their career trajectory and make the leap from technologist to product manager at tech companies."

In addition to providing the hard skills product managers need, the program will focus on training students in the interpersonal and communications skills that are imperative to getting a product from concept to customer.

"Through the Tepper School's Accelerate Leadership Center, students will create a personalized program and work with an executive coach to develop the leadership and interpersonal skills they'll need to succeed," Monroe said.

Applications for the program are open, and the first application deadline is July 1. Visit the MSPM homepage for more information.



10. Print Isn’t Dead: Students Prefer It Over Digital for Academic Reading, Study Finds

By Shannon Riffe

Image of students in the library at CMU Qatar

Millennials grew up using technology at an early age, but when it comes to academic reading they prefer print materials over digital formats.

The finding comes from a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar Reference & Instruction Librarian A. M. Salaz, alongside researchers from Qatar University and Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. The work builds on prior research showing that in many cases students perform better academically after working with print materials. 

Salaz does not advocate a return to print; digital is here to stay. Instead, she said there are opportunities to continue research into optimizing the use of digital formats for effective use and learning.

“Many people seem to look at this research and immediately think it’s an argument for reverting to print forever, which is not how I see it,” Salaz said. “It’s an argument for being careful and thoughtful about how and where we deploy digital resources in learning contexts and for continuing to advance research into which devices, platforms, tools, behaviors and knowledge will move us toward erasing the digital disadvantages.”

The study’s findings could influence how instructors and librarians train students to interact with course materials that are increasingly available only in digital format.

Using Tobii Pro glasses to record eye-tracking data, university students in Qatar were asked to read two chapters from an undergraduate psychology textbook, one in print and one on a tablet with a Kindle app, and then write a 100 to 150-word summary of the chapter. Salaz and the other researchers then analyzed the eye and hand movements of the participants.

They found students reading the digital format engaged less meaningfully with the text — swiping back and forth and skimming more frequently — and started to write their summary during their first reading. When reading print, however, students engaged with the entire text before beginning to summarize and recalled the material with less difficulty. The behavior observed in the study supports the results from the Academic Reading Format International Study (ARFIS) survey, which investigated print versus digital reading preferences in 31 countries.

The ARFIS survey was the subject of a recent talk by Diane Mizrachi, titled “Preferring Print in a Digital World: Studies of Students’ Academic Reading Behaviors,” at the Carnegie Mellon Qatar campus for the Gloriana St. Clair Distinguished Lecture in 21st Century Librarianship.

Mizrachi, the social sciences and undergraduate instruction librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles, discussed the importance of ensuring equity in the classroom by accommodating students who may struggle with assignments when readings are only available in digital format, but are unable to afford increasingly costly paper-based texts.

The low cost of digital-only materials means it is unlikely instructors will return to exclusively assigning print readings. But the research demonstrates that not all students are learning effectively from digital materials.

“Students in lower socioeconomic strata who do not have ready access to electronic devices and printers or cannot afford print textbooks might be settling for the least expensive format over the most optimal learning experience,” Mizrachi said. “The ARFIS survey and the Carnegie Mellon Qatar study demonstrate that an inadvertent outcome of higher education’s efforts to negate the effects of the ‘digital divide’ — the gap between those who have access to technology and those who don’t — may be the creation of a ‘print divide’ that favors students who can afford it.”