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November 2007

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar

Information Systems New degree is a natural link between Business Administration and Computer Science


A publication of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar A member of Qatar Foundation P.O. Box 24866 Doha, Qatar www.qatar.cmu.edu


Marketing & Public Relations Department

A new Web site to assist and support members of the Carnegie Mellon University community who travel internationally

Noha Al Afifi media relations manager

Emma J. Bopf departmental coordinator Kara Nesimiuk events coordinator Andrea L. Zrimsek writer/editor

Editorial Board Nikki Krysak librarian

Aaron Lyvers planning analyst


Anqi Qian, Ph.D. director of strategic initiatives John Robertson assistant dean for academic affairs Dave Stanfield director of student activities

Copy Editors

Majd Sakr, Ph.D. Teresa Thomas Bette A. Zrimsek


Akhbar is the official publication of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Articles and photographs contained in this publication are subject to copyright protection. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the university.

Editorial inquires or reprints Contact the Marketing and Public Relations Department at +974 454 8492

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Search the site by • cultural facts • health information • logistics • immunizations • Visa requirements • cell phone support iTravel features links

to several Web sites travelers might wish to access before a trip, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. State Department. A worldwide daily security report can also be found.


table of contents

In this issue features

5 Information Systems Carnegie Mellon Qatar launches third undergraduate degree

7 CMUnited Class of 2011 is welcomed with five-day orientation

10 Entrepreneurship Executive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program kicks off

12 Bill Brown Remembering a friend, teacher and mentor

14 BOTBALL HOLA! page 26

Championship team spends five days in Pittsburgh

16 Building a future Students take service trip to Jordan

departments 4 dean’s column

Contributing to the knowledge-based economy

19 alumni corner Students today, alumni forever

20 faces of carnegie mellon Gloria Hill, Assistant Vice Provost for Education

22 research spotlight Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor - A vision for the future Distinguished Lecture Series page 32

24 ba in focus Introduction to Entrepreneurship a popular new course

25 cs in focus Three students attend CS conference for women

26 humanities in focus Two-week trip to Spain engrosses students in the language

28 campus news Read about all of the activities on campus

44 staff & faculty news Faculty bios, staff news, awards and accolades

46 pittsburgh connection Posner Center is a must-see sight in Pittsburgh Posner Center page 46

50 the back story A career in robotics has taken Systems Scientist Brett Browning all over the world November 2007 akhbar 3

dean’s column



hen Qatar Foundation invited Carnegie Mellon University to come to Doha in 2004, it was so that we could be a key component in the growing knowledge-based economy. We started by offering two of our most prestigious and world-renowned degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science. But that was just the beginning. We recently became the first university in Education City to offer an additional degree. Our Information Systems program is a natural bridge between Business Administration and Computer Science. This program will give students the knowledge and skills necessary to build information and communications systems that solve real business problems. In addition to working hard on degrees that will make them leaders in the Gulf Region, our students are also continuing Carnegie Mellon’s long-standing tradition of research. Students are researching ways they can apply robotics, computer science and business in ways that will benefit their community. Many students are already formulating business plans and ideas that will enrich the community of Doha and the entire Arab world. As educators, our role in shaping Qatar is not limited to our undergraduates though. In partnership with Qatar Science and Technology Park, we’ve launched our Executive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program for professionals who want to learn how to succeed in the marketplace. Forty men and women, from as far afield as Italy and Jordan, have enrolled in the eight-month program where they are taking courses from some of the most successful and stimulating entrepreneurs in the U.S. Through this program, these smart and driven professionals will, no doubt, assist in steering Qatar toward a bright and successful future. Carnegie Mellon Qatar is also starting networking events to link businesses, researchers and potential graduates. We’re also bringing in venture capitalists and angel funds to assist in getting new ideas off the ground. I see the universities, businesses and investors in Qatar as a three-legged stool. Our success and ability to stand alone is dependant on the strength support of each other. Working together is the key to achieving a successful and sustainable knowledge-based economy. 4 akhbar November 2007

My best wishes to you all,

Charles E. Thorpe, Dean


Information Systems is a natural link between the two existing majors at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar: Computer Science and Business Administration.

INFORMATION SYSTEMS Carnegie Mellon Qatar launches third undergraduate degree


e live in an information-based society. We store our music on our computers, snap pictures with our mobile phones and turn to Google for endless amounts of information. As data and information continue to play an important part of our lives, so does the ability to store, access and process it. That’s where Information Systems comes in. Information Systems is an internationally recognized Bachelor of Science degree for students who want to understand and solve information problems for organizations. “The new IS program is an obvious and welcome addition to our two existing programs: it is the natural bridge between Computer Science and Business Administration,” says Charles E. Thorpe, Dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. The focus of the new Information Systems program is on giving students the knowledge and

skills necessary to design systems for the effective use of information. This has now become central for the support of organizations, decision makers, researchers and policy makers. IS majors master the skills needed to bring together people, process and technology in a way that yields results. Graduates of the IS program are ideally situated to take a leading role in shaping our information-based future as technology managers, software developers, technical specialists, Web design specialists, consultants and entrepreneurs. “Besides the IS majors themselves, our other students will benefit from the new major,” says Thorpe. “The courses offered in IS will be natural electives for CS students wanting to understand the application of Computer Science in a business setting, or for Business Administration students wanting to understand how to process information.” continued on page 6 November 2007 akhbar 5


fessionals who can take their expertise in technology and use it in a variety of ways to help companies Originating in Carnegie Mellon’s College of solve problems. IS positions are expected to more Humanities & Social Sciences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylthan double in the next decade as technology continvania, USA, the IS program offers an interdisciplinues to grow and evolve. ary curriculum that combines its Computer Science Supporting this growth are a strong economy, and Business-related coursework with a liberal arts a developing IT sector and an improving pre-unigeneral education core. versity educational system. Qatar currently does not Drawing on a wide range of exciting college produce any four-year IS graduates however there are and university strengths, IS majors small amounts being produced in study the organizational, techthe region. Yet this small number “Information Systems nological, economic and societal of graduates will not be sufficient combines technology and aspects of information systems. to meet growing demand. working with people in a In addition to general edu“We anticipate Information way that can be applied to cation requirements and basic preSystems will be a successful and many aspects of working requisites in mathematics, statistics popular addition to the curriculife. Graduates have an arand computer programming, IS lum at Carnegie Mellon Qatar,” ray of career options.” students must complete three spesays Randy Weinberg, IS Program cific areas of study in the major: a Director at Carnegie Mellon - Steve Pajewski Professional Core, a Disciplinary Pittsburgh. Associate Director of the Core and a Focused Content Area. “We look forward to being Information Systems Program Students who complete the active members of the Education IS program will be well grounded City community and, in years in the fundamentals of organizato come, a major source of Information Systems tion theory, decision making, teamwork and leadergraduates trained and ready to serve the diverse and ship and research methods as well as current and expanding needs for information technology and emerging information systems technologies. systems management, IT infrastructure, management “Information Systems combines technology support, IT innovation and entrepreneurship of the and working with people in a way that can be apgrowing national and regional economy.” plied to many aspects of working life. Graduates have Carnegie Mellon Qatar is the first university an array of career options,” says Steve Pajewski, Asin Education City to add an additional major to its sociate Director of the Information Systems Program. course offerings. Since August 2004, Carnegie Mellon With the booming economy of the Gulf has been offering Bachelor of Science degrees in BusiRegion, Carnegie Mellon Qatar conducted market ness Administration and Computer Science. research to determine if there was a need for Infor“It’s great to have the support of Qatar mation Systems graduates in Qatar and the surround- Foundation in launching a new degree program that ing region. Organizations such as Deloitte &Touche, will have a positive and lasting impact on Qatar, the Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, ictQatar, the Four Gulf Region and the Middle East as a whole,” says Seasons, RasGas, Qatar Petroleum and Microsoft Thorpe. were surveyed with regard to their projected IS needs. “Carnegie Mellon is always looking for innoThe research showed there was a great devative ways to make a difference in the world, and by mand in the Middle Eastern market for young prooffering an IS degree in Qatar we can do just that.” Q continued from page 5

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completes the student body

rientation is the official beginning of college for the freshman class. It’s when students from several different high schools come together and launch their membership in the Carnegie Mellon community. For the first time since Carnegie Mellon Qatar enrolled its initial students in August 2004, the first-year students had three older classes of students to welcome

them. And the 18-member Orientation Team set out on a mission to make this year’s orientation better than any one yet. “I had a great time during my orientation and I wanted to give these freshman the same experience I had,” says Rezwan Islam (CS 2009), one of the four Head Orientation Counselors. The Class of 2011, which is the largest class yet with 57 students, was treated to many firsts,

beginning with an orientation Web page that featured campus photos, a schedule and welcome messages from orientation counselors. “Between the silly activities, fun-filled outings and learning about life at Carnegie Mellon, our five-day program makes the adjustment from high school to college a ton of fun,” according to Jinanne Tabra (Tepper 2008), Head Orientation Counselor. continued on page 8 November 2007 akhbar 7

Orientation counselors and the incoming freshman class visited the Islamic Arts Museum as part of the five-day freshman orientation. At left, Baker Hall on the Pittsburgh campus is home to the class tiles, which are golden tiles that represent each graduating class. Class tiles pass through the hands of all members of the class before graduation, at which time they are placed into the floor. Class tiles in Doha will be placed into the floor of the new Carnegie Mellon building in Education City.

continued from page 7

Freshmen and their parents were welcomed into the Carnegie Mellon family with a special family orientation at the Intercontinental Hotel. This event gave the students and their parents an idea of what it is like to be a Carnegie Mellon student and a Carnegie Mellon parent, says Ramsey Ramadan (Tepper 2009). The evening began with a welcome reception during which the students received Carnegie Mellon giveaways. Current students talking about life at Carnegie Mellon and Education City, a sample lecture and the showing of a video in which parents of current students talked about what it means to them to be a Carnegie Mellon parent wrapped up the evening. During the five-day orientation, the freshman and the orientation counselors engaged in many activities including movies, a casual faculty breakfast, a tug-of8 akhbar November 2007

war as long as the LAS Building and a trip to the Islamic Arts Museum. In addition to these somewhat standard bonding activities, Head Orientation Counselor Noor Al-Jassim (Tepper 2009) says the HOCs wanted to add a new dimension to the experience: community service. “We wanted to set the tone for the four years by starting community service from day one,” says Al-Jassim. The orientation

team looked to do a project inside of Education City but then found a need at Al Ahli Hospital. So the whole group went to the private hospital and spent several hours cleaning. “It was the highlight of orientation,” says Tabra. “People really changed their ideas about community service and students realized it was something they could enjoy.” This special program, along with all of the events dur-

Setting the tone of the importance of community service, orientation counselors and freshman spent a day cleaning at Al Ahli Hospital. Many called the experience the ‘highlight’ of the five-day orientation program. At right, in the Scottish tradition of Carnegie Mellon a bagpiper led the procession at the university’s first formal convocation. Held on the first day of classes, convocation is the official welcome of the freshman class into the Carnegie Mellon family.

ing orientation week, was entirely student planned and executed. Another first of the Class of 2011 orientation was a formal convocation. Held on the first day of classes of the fall semester, convocation is a long-standing university tradition in which freshmen are welcomed into the Carnegie Mellon family. Since this incoming class makes a full complement of students - with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors - the convocation was made into a more formal event than in years past. Keeping with the Scottish heritage of Carnegie Mellon, the event began with the melodious sounds of a bagpiper who was dressed in a woolen kilt and full Scottish regalia. With his music he began a procession that included all faculty and incoming freshman. Faculty members wore

academic robes, mortarboards and colorful hoods that represent the universities from which they earned their doctoral degrees. All freshmen wore long black robes, much like the ones they will wear upon their graduation in four years. The freshman class also was presented with its official golden class tile. Each class tile is imbued with the spirit of the class whose year it bears. Over the four years that a class walks campus, its tile is passed from student to student. After having passed through each pair of hands, it will be imbedded in the floor to become forever a part of Carnegie Mellon. In Pittsburgh, the tiles line the entrance of Baker Hall. Tiles in Qatar will be displayed in the new Carnegie Mellon building upon its completion in

Education City in 2008. Islam says the best part about this year’s orientation was watching everyone bond together. “Is wasn’t just a week of fun. It was the transition between high school and college. And it was about fitting in the last piece of our four-year puzzle.”

About the Class of 2011 The Class of 2011 is the largest freshman class to join Carnegie Mellon Qatar. This class is comprised of 25 male and 32 female students. Forty students enrolled in the Business Administration program and 17 in the Computer Science program. The new class represents 19 different nationalities, with 34 percent of the students being Qatari. Of the 57 freshmen, 49 are from Qatar, with the remaining eight being from other countries. Q November 2007 akhbar 9


Executive Entrepreneurship

Certificate Program kicks off

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he most successful companies a decade cialization Strategy and Technology Commercializafrom now will be selling products and tion Workshop. Each course is seven weeks long. services unimaginable today. The ExecuWeek one is a “fast week,” which is an intensive tive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, hands-on class held all day. a course offered by Carnegie Mellon University in This is followed by six weeks of independent Qatar and Qatar Science and Technology Park, gives study and video conferences every Thursday with the business leaders in the Gulf Region the power to be Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh. The eightone of these success stories. month program is set up this way so business profes“The focus of this program is on creating sionals can attend classes and complete coursework a knowledge-based economy and wealth creation around their work schedule. that does not require mineral resources,” says Tom Emerson says he was delighted to find that Emerson, Ph.D., Morgenthaler Professor of Entrepre- the students in Qatar are no different that their counneurship and former director of the Donald H. Jones terparts in Pittsburgh. “They’re intelligent, interacCenter for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of tive and a joy to teach.” The challenge with bringing Business at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh. “The rethe program to Qatar,” he says, “is adapting what is sources and opportunities are here. We’re here to help taught in the western economy to the Middle Eastern people see them and develop them.” economy and culture.” Emerson is one of the accomplished entreCarnegie Mellon has been teaching entreprepreneurs teaching in the EECP program. The courses neurship since 1972 when it became one of the first teach the process of how great business ideas are academic institutions to offer formal courses. These generated, evaluated and put into practice in the real programs were consolidated in 1990 when Donald world. Jones, a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalThe EECP program covers busiist, endowed the Donald H. Jones ness essentials such market positioning, for Entrepreneurship within “Entrepreneurship Center building competitive advantage and the Tepper School of Business. is abundantly on strategic planning. The program also The center was soon recdisplay in Qatar; teaches the personal skills that are critiognized as one of the world’s top cal to business success such as leading entrepreneurship centers and has in every souq and teams and pitching to investors. By the family-owned busi- been offering exceptional graduate, end of the course, students will have undergraduate and executive educaness.” created a fully developed project plan tion programs ever since. - Tom Emerson and be ready to launch new technology Carnegie Mellon partnered ventures. with Qatar Science & Technology The inaugural EECP class is made up of Park to offer the program because QSTP is a home nearly 40 students, some from countries as far away for international companies from around the world as Australia, Italy and the United States. While most and an incubator of start-up technology businesses. of the men and women live in Qatar, a few are from QSTP aims to develop Qatar’s knowledge economy, neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia and the and a key way of doing this is by providing people United Arab Emirates. with the skills and resources to commercialize techAndrea Raggi, an engineer from Italy, signed nology. up for the course to learn more about business. “As “This program is a wonderful addition to the an engineer I’m in love with ideas. But since my eduthings we’re doing in Qatar,” says Des Ryan, QSTP cation was 100 percent technical I don’t know how Business Support Manager. “We hope the students in to take these ideas to the market,” he says. “I’m here the EECP program will come to QSTP as they develto learn how to start a business and get it off on the op their ideas. We have world-class facilities to help right foot. Who better to teach me to be successful world-class businesses and products succeed.” than Carnegie Mellon?” Carnegie Mellon Qatar and Qatar Science The EECP curriculum is made up of four and Technology Park have a five-year contract to run courses: Entrepreneurial Thought & Action, Entrethe EECP program. Courses will begin each fall. To preneurial Business Planning, Technology Commerlearn more, visit www.qatar.cmu.edu/exed. Q November 2007 akhbar 11

BILL BROWN, Ph.D. features

Remembering a friend, teacher and mentor


ean Chuck Thorpe remembers the last conversation he had with Bill Brown, Ph.D., before Brown left Doha in May. “He said ‘Chuck, I hope I've reduced your workload.’ I said Bill, think of all the great ideas you have for things we want to do - every time you take something off my plate, you come up with two more things we should take on." To that, Brown laughed his usual contagious laugh and said, “well, then I hope I've reduced your blood pressure.” “He certainly did,” says Thorpe. “Bill brought enthusiasm, energy and an upbeat attitude to everything he did. He was passionate about teaching, excited about helping junior faculty and eager about the potential for doing really great things in Doha.” Brown died in July, several days after undergoing brain surgery for a benign tumor. The tumor was discovered only weeks before when Brown took a spill off of his bicycle. Brown came to Qatar in January 2007 as a visiting professor of biological sciences teaching a hybrid biology course to students. The course, which he developed to integrate online learning and classroom lecture, was previously adopted by 26 U.S. universities and a university in Santiago, Chile. 12 akhbar November 2007

He and his wife, Linda, took to Qatar immediately. They loved the new campus, the enthusiastic students and the Arab culture, and decided to stay on for several years. Brown was soon named special assistant to Thorpe. In this role, he was going to work with the dean to provide support on a wide range of issues including organizing commencement, convening a college council, showing Qatar University how to set up a faculty senate and conducting environmental research just to name a few. “And that was what he started in only four months on the ground,” says Thorpe. Brown would spend weekends taking long bike rides with Majd Sakr, Computer Science professor, to the small town of Al-Khor. On these rides the two would brainstorm on new ideas for Qatar. ‘Bill was filled with ideas. He had so much to bring to Doha,” says Sakr. “He was a friend, teacher, colleague and mentor all at once. He simply and gracefully led by example. His positive spirit and drive were infectious. He left us too soon and we miss having him on campus and on our weekly bike rides.” While Brown had an immeasurable impact on Qatar in his short stay, he has been an influential part of Carnegie Mellon for almost 40 years. He

joined the faculty as an assistant professor of biological sciences at the Mellon College of Science (MCS) in 1973. In 1993, he became professor and served as acting head of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1993-1995. He subsequently served as department head from 1995-2000. Over 37 years, Brown advanced undergraduate education and received numerous awards. According to colleagues, Brown “was a wonderful teacher, deeply concerned with the learning and development of students.” He demanded much of his students intellectually, but also knew how to have fun. He helped biology students build the departmental booth for carnival, and he acted in corny parts for the MCS annual Murder Mystery dinner. Brown was particularly aggressive in incorporating computers to teach biology and pursue research at Carnegie Mellon and in improving Pittsburgh Public School science education. Brown helped establish the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences for highly talented high school students, a program now in its 25th year. In 2005, he helped launch the Master’s Degree in Biotechnology and Management, one of the few truly interdisciplinary programs that ensure an equally balanced, in-depth emphasis on business and science. Earlier in his career, Brown helped launch the Bachelors of Science and Arts. Brown also maintained an active laboratory, pursuing molecular research to improve diagnostics for toxic agents in the workplace and designing biological methods to remediate harmful chemicals released into the environment. The father of two, he received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1971 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics in 1973 at Yale University before coming to Carnegie Mellon. In addition to his distinguished academic career, Brown was an avid cyclist and world traveler. Each year, he participated in numerous charitable fundraisers. This June, he rode in the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride from Pittsburgh to Erie. “Bill’s life held no boundaries - no boundaries to travel, to intellectual curiosity, no boundaries between work and friends and family,” says Thorpe. “He brought us all together and made us feel like family. We miss him personally and professionally. His heart truly was in the work.” Brown is survived by his wife, Linda; his two sons, Kevin and Eric; and brothers and sisters. A memorial is being held on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Doha and Pittsburgh. Q

At left, Bill and his wife, Linda, pose for a picture along the Corniche in Doha. Above, Bill and Majd Sakr rode their bicycles on the 150-mile Multiple Sclerosis ride in June. Bill found out he had a brain tumor only weeks after the charity ride from Pittsburgh to Erie, PA.

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champs win trip to Pittsburgh Majdi Yousef Sulaiman, Anas Omar Al Badawi and Mohamed Al-Gondob (left to right) won a five-day trip to Pittsburgh for capturing the regional BOTBALL championship in Doha in May. Here the students from Al RU’YA Bilingual School in Kuwait enjoy a day at Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece. Top right, the group attend a Pirates baseball game at PNC Park. Bottom right, Dean Chuck Thorpe led the students on a tour of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.


ot only did the team from Al RU’YA Bilingual School in Kuwait get to brag about winning the first regional BOTBALL tournament held outside of the United States, the team also got to spend five days in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. “The trip was fun and educational, and we hope it inspired the BOTBALL students to continue their good work in robotics and computer science,” said Charles E. Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Majdi Yousef Sulaiman, Mohamed Al-Gondob and Anas 14 akhbar November 2007

Omar Al Badawi, along with their teacher and BOTBALL advisor Hazem Hany El Beltagy, arrived in Pittsburgh on a sunny and warm July afternoon. After unpacking in one of the dormitories, the team headed to Mineo’s Pizza in Squirrel Hill for a taste of some hometown pie. Bright and early the next day, the team met up with Dean Thorpe to tour the Robotics Institute. Thorpe showed off several autonomous vehicles including solar-paneled cars and small helicopters designed by scientists at the Robotics Institute.

“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” says Al-Gondob of the helicopters. “I could spend the whole week in here.” But there was much more to see. The team headed to PNC Park to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team take on the Colorado Rockies. While the Pirates racked up a loss, the robot champs enjoyed the evening that came complete with fireworks after a home run. The Al RU’YA team also had an exclusive tour of Pittsburgh’s City Council chambers. This is the legislative branch of

government that makes the laws that govern the City of Pittsburgh. Members of City Council were interested in asking questions about Qatar, and numerous media outlets came to the meeting and interviewed the students. “I can’t believe how welcome we feel,” says Sulaiman. “Being Arab men I did not know how people would treat us. But everyone has been wonderful.” Al-Gondob, Sulaiman, Al Badawi and Beltagy were also taken on a tour of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie

Mellon. The ETC offers a Masters in Entertainment Technology degree that is based on the principle of having technologists and non-technologists work together on projects that produce artifacts to entertain, inform, inspire or otherwise affect an audience. Some of the creatures on display were a copy of Yoda from Star Wars and Quasi, the robot that visited Qatar in May. The team also took in some of Pittsburgh’s best sights. They visited Station Square mall and rode the Monongahela Incline

up the side of Mt. Washington to get a full view of the city. They also took a Ducky Tour of the city. This unique tour is taken on a combination car and boat that drives around the city on roads then drives straight onto the river. The team also contributed to Pittsburgh’s economy by visiting every mall they saw. Beltagy and his students were thrilled to get out of the city for a day and head into the Laurel Mountains. Not hampered by the rain, the team toured Laurel Caverns, a 435-acre geological park featuring Pennsylvania's largest cave; visited Ohiopyle State Park; and toured the grounds of Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece that is situated over a waterfall. “I cannot believe how beautiful Pittsburgh is,” says Beltagy, an Egyptian who had never been to the United States before. “It’s so green and so lovely. And it’s nice that you can enjoy the city and the mountains in the same day.” The only thing Beltagy says the team didn’t like about the trip was that is wasn’t long enough. “Next year the trip should be for two weeks.” ABOUT BOTBALL The BOTBALL high school robotics competition is a U.S.based organization that introduces robotics to high schools. Student teams are equipped with a Lego© Mindstorm robot, along with instruction on how to program it to move autonomously through a course. Carnegie Mellon Qatar brought BOTBALL to its campus in Doha, Qatar in 2005 and four high school teams took part. Last year the competition increased to six teams in Doha and this year it expanded three fold to include 12 teams in Doha, three teams in Kuwait and three teams in the United Arab Emirates. Q November 2007 akhbar 15

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Building a future Students take service trip to Jordan

alt is the most historic town in Jordan. Built in the crook of three hills, Salt was once the most important settlement between the Jordan River and the desert to the east. Today, Salt is home to many underprivileged Arabs. And it is where a group of Carnegie Mellon Qatar students set out to make a difference. Working with Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit organization that invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need, nine students and three chaperones spent a weekend helping a family build a home. “Going on a trip and actually doing something is very different than just Students spent a three-day weekend helping a family add a second story giving money,” says Maha Mahmoud (Tep- onto their home in Salt, Jordan. The work was in conjunction with Habitat for per 2009). “You can actually see the impact Humanity International. you are making.” addition would provide enough room for the family’s In addition to Mahmoud, students son and his wife to move in and start their own famon the trip were Naif Al-Kaabi (CS 2010), Saad ily. Al-Matwi (Tepper 2010), Hicham Nedjari (Tepper Most of the students had never done any 2008), Ramsey Ramadan (Tepper 2009), Maha Altype of construction and were a bit uncertain when Khulaifi (Tepper 2009), Nasreen Zahan (CS 2010), tasked with making rebar, hauling 400 cinder blocks Megan Larcom (Tepper 2010) and Hillary Smith and pouring concrete. However, under the guidance (Tepper 2010). of professionals they soon mastered their jobs and, Gregg Smith, Student Development Coordinamuch to everyone’s surprise, had fun doing it. tor, and Dave Stanfield, Director of Student Services, “I learned how to push myself to the furthest and Caryl Tuma, Community Advisor, chaperoned physical extreme,” Mahmoud adds. “It was rewardthe trip. ing knowing we were doing it for someone in need.” Mahmoud and the rest of the group spent While the group stayed in a hotel in Amman and three days under the hot sun doing hard physical labor to add a second story on to a small home. The continued on page 18 November 2007 akhbar 17

continued from page 17

drove to Salt in the mornings, they had plenty of time to get to know the family through the work and by sharing meals together. Homes built through Habitat for Humanity are not given to the families for free. To pay for the project, families apply for interest-free loans and contractors work at reduced rates. The homeowners then make monthly mortgage payments that are used to build still more Habitat houses. Families also are expected to participate in the actual construction. Typically the men in the family help with the actual physical work and the women assist by cooking meals and making tea. Caryl Tuma, Community Advisor, says many community service options were considered before making the decision to go to Jordan for a long weekend. She says the decision to work on an out-of town-project was made so that students could be 100 percent engrossed in the mission. It was also selected because in the bustling economy of Qatar, it’s easy for students to be unaware that there are many Arabs in need in nearby cities. 18 akhbar November 2007

The home in Salt has a spectacular view of the mountains of Jordan. Students hauled 400 cinder blocks to help build the home’s second story.

Once the work was complete, the students presented the family with a photo album of pictures of the work they completed over the weekend. After a poignant goodbye, the group rewarded itself with a quick trek to the ancient city of Petra. Carved into the mountain, Petra has been designated as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. While in Petra, the group visited a few shops and took a quite memorable donkey ride. Mahmoud says one aspect of the trip that she didn’t expected was how emotional she would be. “It was amazing to see a lot of cultures coming together for a common goal. Everyone gave up their Qatar Independence Day and was so dedicated to their job. And the family was so grateful.” Q

alumni corner



n a few short months the Class of 2008 will toss their mortarboards in the air, grab their well-earned diplomas and join the ranks of Carnegie Mellon alumni. While many students may think that graduation signifies the end of their relationship with Carnegie Mellon, that day is really just the beginning. “You’re only a student for four years, but you’re an alumni for the rest of your life,” says Judy Cole, Associate Vice President for University Advancement at Carnegie Mellon. “Alumni are the only constituency that has a lifelong relationship with an institution. Everyone else comes and goes.” Many years ago, alumni relations was about little more than socializing and having fun with former classmates. Today, it’s a much more structured organization with thousands of members spread across the globe. “A strong alumni organization is a fundamental structure for alumni to engage with Carnegie Mellon in a meaningful way,” says Cole. Being an alumni also gives former students time to enjoy aspects of campus that they were too busy to enjoy while engrossed in their studies. Alumni relations is made up of four components, says Cole. First is participation. This means that once students enter the workforce they take time to come back to Carnegie Mellon to engage with students and other alumni. It’s about getting involved and staying involved in any number of ways. Second is volunteering. Cole says giving time to your alma mater is just as important as anything else an alumni can give. Alumni can volunteer to coordinate alumni events, give job talks, help with activities or serve as a mentor to young students. Financial giving is the third aspect of alumni

A graphic of the alumni life cycle timeline. relations. Cole says this encompasses all levels of giving: from 1 Riyal to 1 million Riyals. “By giving money, alumni are paying it forward. By giving money you are helping future students,” Cole says. This, Cole says, is because university educations are priced at about 2/3 of their actual worth. This means that tuition, room and board only pay for about 2/3 of what it costs to deliver an education. The remainder is made possible through endowments and financial giving. The last component of alumni relations is being an advocate for Carnegie Mellon. This means sharing your experience with others and encouraging young people to consider attending Carnegie Mellon. What will make alumni relations in Qatar unique is that the Class of 2008 will forge out on their own to define what it means to be a Carnegie Mellon Qatar alumni. “It’s not a completely clean slate because they can build on Pittsburgh’s alumni relations,” Cole says. The Class of 2008 will lay the foundation of alumni relations in Qatar and subsequent classes will build on that. November 2007 akhbar 19

faces of carnegie mellon

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faces of carnegie mellon

Gloria Hill, Ph.D. A passion for education on both sides of the world


ituated on the ground floor of Cyert Hall on Pittsburgh’s campus, Gloria Hill’s office is a little slice of Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Photos of the high school students in the Summer College Preview Program adorn her door. A tartan Qatar Campus banner hangs proudly over her desk flanked by renderings of the now under-construction building in Education City. Above her desk are two simple black and white clocks: one telling the time in Pittsburgh and the other the time in Doha. As the Assistant Vice Provost for Education for the Qatar Campus, Hill’s office shows her dedication to higher education and to the students in Doha. It also peaks the interest of passers-by, giving them a reason to stop in and ask questions. “My office gives me the opportunity to spread the word about Doha, about what we’re doing there and why people should consider going over to work or study,” says Hill. Hill has been involved with the planning and implementation of education in Doha since Carnegie Mellon Qatar opened in August 2004. In her role, she serves as the main link between the two campuses. She sees to it that the level of education in Qatar is on par with that in Pittsburgh. She began her career with Carnegie Mellon in 1972 as a counselor with the Carnegie Mellon Action Project (C-MAP) program, which provides academic support for minority students. She stayed in this position for several years, then left the university in the late 1970s to pursue other opportunities. In 1984 she returned to head up C-MAP.

“Seeing students grow is such a satisfying thing,” she says. “Being able to contribute to that is major. When I was away from it I missed it.” It’s this passion for education and helping students grow on all levels that Hill brings to Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Her job as Assistant Vice Provost encompasses much more than just academics. It gives her the opportunity to interact closely with students to see that they are growing both academically and personally. Hill also gets to work building relationships with students in which she can help them see their options and empower them to make decisions for themselves. “I encourage students to find something they really like. And let them know that it’s okay if they bounce around for a while until they find their place.” This summer Hill expanded her academic role and organized the first Summer College Preview Program, which is an intensive three-week college preparatory program for academically-talented high school students. The program was so successful that Hill will be heading it up every year. And while becoming a world traveler wasn’t a direction she ever anticipated her career would take, going to Doha is now second nature. “Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be going back and forth from Pittsburgh to the Middle East,” she says. “But I like it. It gives me more opportunities to work with students. And I am helping more people in Pittsburgh understand what we’re doing and consider the opportunities and potential of taking their work to Doha.” November 2007 akhbar 21

research spotlight

A vision for the future Research Scientist Bernardine Dias, Ph.D., is working on developing a Braille tutor for the Arabic language


he World Health Organization estimates there are 161 million blind people in the world. Of that, more than 90 percent live in developing communities. Due to a lack of resources, only about three percent of these visually-impaired children and adults are literate. This is in spite of the importance of literacy to employment and social well-being. Bernardine Dias, Ph.D., Research Scientist at Carnegie Mellon, is doing what she can to change that. Dias is the founder and director of TechBridgeWorld, a multidisciplinary research team of students, faculty and staff that innovates and implements technology solutions to meet sustainable development needs in the U.S. and around the world. Within TechBridgeWorld a program called the V-Unit was created to enable students and faculty “to grow a vision” of what computer science and technology can concretely do for society in non-traditional and under-funded areas. “Technology shouldn’t be a luxury for only those who can afford it, it should build bridges,” she says. One project that Dias hopes will build those bridges is the Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor. In developing communities, Braille, a method widely used by blind people to read and write, is almost always written with a slate and stylus. Each Braille character or cell is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two columns of three dots each. A dot may be raised at any of the six positions to form sixty-four combinations. For blind children, learning to write like this is a formidable process as they must learn to punch mirror images of the letters out with the stylus, then turn the paper over to read it. Plus many children do not have the guidance they need to learn, and have limited access to paper supplies. 22 akhbar November 2007

The Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor uses a stylus to write each Braille letter in an individual cell. The Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor is a robust, low-power Braille writing tutor that consists of a digital stylus that interfaces to a computer. It uses text-to-speech software to speak sentences to the student. As the student writes each letter on the stylus, it provides immediate audio feedback by repeating the written letters and words. The tutor also guides writing and corrects mistakes by indicating the correct way to write a letter and by explaining how a letter differs from a similar one. “We wanted to make a tool that made learning Braille easier and more exciting for children,” she says. The project not only aids in learning, it empowers people in developing communities to know what technology can do for them.” Dias and several graduate students took the Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor to the Mathru School for Blind Children near Bangalore, India to imple-

research spotlight

Blind students in India immediately liked working with the Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor.

ment the tutor and study its impact. Its power was immediate. Dias says one child had such a difficult time learning Braille that his teacher, also blind, was ready to give up. The Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor revealed that the child knew how to make the letters, he just didn’t realize he had to move to a new cell for each letter. In one instant he went from being considered illiterate, to being able to read and write. The trip also allowed Dias and her students to further modify the tutor to account for electrical issues and the fear many blind children have of wires. One modification was to make the cells bigger so that younger kids could better work with them. While the children thrived at their ability to learn, it wasn’t their favorite thing about having visitors. “The biggest deal is that someone is paying attention to them,” says Dias. The next step in Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor is to modify it for Arabic Braille. Senior Computer Science major Noura El Moughny is working with Dias on developing this technology for Doha and the Arab world. “I always wanted to do a real application of Computer Science in the community I live in, so the Braille Tutor is the best match for what I’m looking for,” she says. “My hope is that this will help the

Arab world, especially the visually impaired people, to overcome some of the problems they experience in writing Braille. It also would help the sighted teachers in the process of teaching Braille for the visually impaired students.” El Moughny says that using technology to make life easier and solve problems is one of the fundamental aspects of Computer Science. And it’s what she always looks at and takes into consideration when she designs and implements a certain technology for a certain problem. While Qatar has resources to supply expensive Braille tools to students, the rest of the Arab world is not as affluent and thus could benefit greatly from an Arabic version. Plus, Dias says, many blind students prefer the simplicity and fun of the Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor to many more expensive options. “Based on my knowledge about the technology used to support the visually impaired people in the Arab world, the tools are always brought from outside the Arab World to be used,” says El Moughny “So having a designer and implementer from inside the Arab world and who can better understand the exact needs will lead to a better outcome.” Learn more about Dias’ research at www. techbridgeworld.org. Q November 2007 akhbar 23

ba in focus





new elective course at Carnegie Mellon Qatar is bringing out the industrialist in everyone. Introduction to Entrepreneurship, taught by George White, Ph.D., is a seniorlevel course open to all Carnegie Mellon students. The class provides an overview of entrepreneurship and is appropriate for anyone who may be interested in starting a new business or understanding the processes that should be followed in an existing company to bring a new product to market. “The goal of this class is to help students understand how business is changing the world and how entrepreneurs are making a difference,” says White.

Lectures, interviews with entrepreneurs and case studies make up the core of the course. Case studies, White says, are what seem to really speak to students. “They like hearing the successes of industry giants such as Apple, Google and Yahoo.” This new course gives an overview





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New elective is a popular choice with students

of global economic development, innovation, the entrepreneurial frame of mind and how to generate new business ideas. White’s class also covers how to identify opportunities, find resources to exploit them and how to recruit management teams. Students also will have to propose business ideas and learn how to develop these ideas into business opportunities. White, a successful entrepreneur who was involved in the go-go years of Silicon Valley, says what makes this course interesting for him is that Carnegie Mellon students are different than most other people who want to start their own businesses. “Usually entrepreneurs start a new venture in order to make money. But since money isn’t a concern for a lot of our students, they draw their motivation by the possibility of changing the world and making a difference.” Introduction to Entrepreneurship has proved a popular class this term, and not just for Business Administration majors. Computer Science students are also realizing the value this course adds to their education. “It’s important for all of our students to know how to start their own companies and to learn how to be inspired.”

0 1 0 cs in focus 1 0 1 1 01 00 0 0 0 1 1 10 100 000 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 01 10101 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 110100 10100 10010 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0101 1100001 110100 100001 110101 000110 0 0 1 0 0 0010 101000 101000 101000 0101011101101000110010 1 1 0 1 1 011 10010 10 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 011 101100 000110 011101 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1011 100001 11010001010011010100010101110010101100100010 0101100 0 1 0 10 11 0 10 0111 10000100010010100101110001000110100110000110101000001010100 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 Three computer science majors attend a researchfocused conference for women at Carnegie Mellon’s main campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



hree Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar students spent a weekend in Pittsburgh at the first “Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science Conference,” which was held by Women@SCS (women at the School of Computer Science). At this research-focused conference, seniors Noura El Moughny and Eman AlEmadi along with sophomore Keghani Kouzoujian had opportunities to work on exploratory problems in teams led by researchers and professors from industry and academia. “I found the conference very helpful and am very glad that I attended. I learned about research opportunities and what other women have been doing in their fields, and it was truly inspirational to see all those women sharing their passion and encouraging us to grow in similar ways,” says Kouzoujian. El Moughny, Al-Emadi and Kouzoujian also met Frances Allen, the first woman to receive the Turing Award, which is a highly prestigious award given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to a person for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. “This was a great opportunity for our female computer science students to interact with many young and world-renowned women in computer science at our home campus,” says Majd Sakr, Ph.D., computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

“We hope that these students got inspiration to see what an important role they can play as women computer scientists in this part of the world. We also hope that these interactions will impact their activities in Doha.” The Women@SCS mission is to create, encourage and support academic, social and professional opportunities for women in computer science, and to promote the breadth of the field and its diverse community.

Technical fields such as computer science do not have a long history with women. Organizations such as Women@SCS try to present to the world the real picture, which is that women are as good as men in these fields. “As a feminist, attending an all-women's conference has been a wonderful experience,” says Kouzoujian. “At application time I did not have a clear idea about where computer science was taking me. Now I know the possibilities and couldn't be happier with my major. I strongly encourage students to attend similar conferences. They put you on your feet so you'll have a better view of where you stand and all you can do.” Carnegie Mellon Qatar currently has 58 students enrolled in the Computer Science major; 34 are women. November 2007 akhbar 25

humanities in focus

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humanities in focus

Ten students spend two weeks in Spain studying the language and the culture


he Spanish language is becoming ubiquitous, and Carnegie Mellon Qatar is no exception. Not only have students been learning Spanish in the classroom, a small group also spent two weeks fully immersed in the language and the culture this summer. Ten students along with Spanish professors Erik Helin and Sylvia Pessoa packed their bags and headed to Salamanca, a city in western Spain that is home to the Estudio Sampere Learning Center. The program consisted of a combination of indoor classes and outdoor activities that helped the students learn more about the Spanish culture and the history behind the city of Salamanca. It included tours within the city of Salamanca in which behind every brick, rests an ancient story. Led by their Spanish teachers, the students further familiarized themselves with the Spanish language, especially the accent and pace of a native speaker. They also took part in fun cultural activities such as flamenco dancing. “Since very few people in Salamanca spoke English we had to speak in Spanish,” says Maha Mahmoud (Tepper 2009). “By always speaking in Spanish I became more confident in my speaking. I had to take risks and learn from my mistakes.” Helin says the trip was designed for students to strengthen their Spanish communication skills

What better way to learn new vocabulary words than to play a few games of Scrabble. and also to make them insightful and productive citizens of the international world “These students are expert language learners,” he says. “They all speak Arabic and English, and many speak French. This trip is helping them develop yet another skill to be a global citizen.” The Carnegie Mellon students on the trip interacted with students from all over the world in their classes at the Estudio Sampere. Even though they were all from different walks of life, everyone was brought together through their Spanish-speaking tongues. Surprisingly, some of the other students in the center were seniors and juniors studying Spanish as their major. Yet the Carnegie Mellon students proved

to be more fluent and of a higher communication level than most of them. This is because of Pessoa and Helin’s teaching style, which is of a communicative nature. Many of the students spent the two weeks living with native families. This made the stay a complete immersion in the language. And much to the students’ delight, many of their host families wanted to learn about Qatar and maybe even pick up a few words Arabic. "Living with a family didn't just help me improve my Spanish skills. It also contributed to my overall growth as a person by making me more responsible, more open to other cultures and always willing to share my culture with others," says Mahmoud. November 2007 akhbar 27

campus news


cute, shy and quite charming little guy with big eyes and a kind spirit won the hearts of many at the BOTBALL championship in May. Quasi is an expressive anthropomorphic humanoid robot with a slightly masculine appearance. He has the personality of a 12-yearold boy and is on a mission to create compelling interactive and memorable experiences with humans, and ultimately make them smile. New to international travel, Quasi was one of the guests of the Qatar Science & Technology Park TECHtalks Conference at the end of May. While in Doha, he made time to stop by the BOTBALL championship and visit with students at Carnegie Mellon. In terms of physical construction, Quasi has more in common with a radiocontrolled model aircraft than with a traditional robot. Through a video camera and microphone, the sound and visuals of those who are interacting with Quasi are relayed to the controller, who then makes the appropriate responses. If left in the autonomous mode, the robot would depend on its pre-recorded responses and pre-programmed gestures. “He can either be controlled by a human actor or allowed to be autonomous with limitations,” according to Seema Patel, CEO of Interbots, LLC, a

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company that develops interactive animatronic and digital characters. Quasi’s ability to convey emotion makes it easy for him to connect with people of all ages. He has a number of features for conveying emotion. The most prominent of which are Color Kinetics LED lighting fixtures for his eyes and antennae. These combine red, green, and blue LEDs to display any color of the spectrum. His antennae can move both forward and backward as well as in and out, giving them an expressive quality not unlike that of a dog's ears. The physical movements of Quasi's eyelids, antennae and body posture combined with changing the LED colors allow him to effectively communicate emotions and personality without the use of speech. Red antennae mean he’s mad and blue mean he’s feeling shy. “The first version of Quasi, created in the Spring of 2004 by graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, was fully autonomous, but not portable like this one,” explained Patel, whose team is currently building a sister to Quasi for the Singapore Science Center. Quasi was selected to be the mascot of the World’s Fair for Kids, and has made numerous television appearances including the Super Bowl, CBS Evening News’ Eye on America, the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel. With all this fame, it’s unclear if he will be able return to Doha for subsequent visits.

campus news

Cleotilde Gonzalez, Ph.D., poses with some of her summer school students. Gonzalez, a longtime professor at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh, spent much of the summer in Doha teaching Dynamic Decision Making.


IS professor teaches summer course in Doha


leotilde Gonzalez, Ph.D., had been wanting to teach at Carnegie Mellon Qatar since the campus opened in August 2004. But as a full-time Information Systems professor and researcher, in addition to having a husband and children, it was just out of the question. Then she received an e-mail from John Robertson, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, looking for professors to teach summer classes for six weeks. And she knew that was her chance. “I wanted to teach in Qatar from the start,” she says. “And summer was the perfect opportunity.” She spent six weeks teaching Dynamic Decision Making, a course designed to teach better ways to think, visualize problems and make decisions. She had six students enrolled in her class and found the experience of teaching in Qatar very different from that of teaching in Pittsburgh. “I felt very comfortable there,” she says. “In Pittsburgh I only teach large classes with around 90 students. So it was nice to be able to

interact so closely with students.” Gonzalez says the teaching environment in Qatar was very relaxed and students felt comfortable coming to her office often. And solely focusing on teaching for six weeks was very rewarding. She also was able to use the opportunity to teach a class that aligned more closely with her research. In addition to teaching, Gonzalez also enjoyed learning about Doha and the Arab culture. Her husband, who is from Jordan, and her children joined her in Doha for a few weeks at the end of the course. “I managed to learn so much more about the students here,” she says. “Plus the summer session was perfect to enjoy the city. There’s a lot of culture here and I’m glad I was able to come and experience it.” This was the first summer Carnegie Mellon Qatar offered summer courses, with seven electives to choose from. Summer courses are expected to be on the academic schedule every summer henceforth. November 2007 akhbar 29

campus news



Carnegie Mellon Qatar students take part in two-day Apprentice challenge


tudents at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar spent 48 hours racing against the clock trying to turn QR 300 into as much money as they could in the campus’s first version of the American reality show The Apprentice. Thirty-five students were split into 7-member teams, given QR 300 seed money and 20 white T-shirts. Teams were granted the freedom to use the money and shirts in any way they could to return a profit, while abiding by The Apprentice rules & regulations. And there was quite an incentive: the team who raised the most money would get to split the total earnings. The winning team took home a pile of money - literally. The two-day challenge Each team came up with sevraised QR 14565. eral ideas to raise money. Selling the Tshirts was a popular option, though not buying their snacks, they quickly learned the reason always successful. One team held a bake sale, while why. another sold Post-It notes with personal messages “It turns out you weren’t allowed to bring written on them. beverages into the stadium, says Samiha Kamel, a seAnother team sold campus advertising to sev- nior Business Administration student. “We learned in eral local companies, and one team even braved the order to be successful we need to do market research. heat and stood outside Al Sadd Stadium trying to sell You can’t just go out and try to sell things. You need soft drinks and sunflower seeds. When no one was to be prepared.” 30 akhbar November 2007

campus news

Lina El-Manshawy (Tepper 2008) shows off the money raised in the two-day Apprentice challenge. The pile of money included Qatari Riyals, Kuwaiti Dinars and even a few U.A.E. Dirhams.

Lessons like this were all part of the game according to the Carnegie Mellon Business Association, which is the group that organized the Apprentice event. cmBA is a student organization that aims to cultivate the strongest business students in the region, immerse business minds in a business culture and establish long-term relationships with the business community. “cmBA and the events it sponsors, such as The Apprentice, take the Tepper business education to the next level,” says J. Patrick McGinnis, Carnegie Mellon Qatar Business Administration faculty. “Tepper business students immerse themselves in their business education, and this organization helps students polish their professional presence as they engage the business world around them. cmBA members live the organization’s slogan, which is Eat, Drink and Breathe Business.” cmBA held The Apprentice as a way for students to learn how to strategize together to earn

money quickly. Teams were required to keep detailed records of their business transactions, and had to submit documentation of their business concepts. "Those two days were the most intense two days of my university life so far, but I loved every minute of it,” says Zeyad Al Mudhaf, a freshman Business Administration student. “That was the first time that I got to apply the skills I learned in business classes to real-life situations. That was also the most successful group work I have ever been involved in because all the team put in a great effort.” The seven students on the winning team split a whopping QR 14565. Members of the second place team took home brand new Nokia cellular phones courtesy of Ettisal, a member of Al-Sulaiman Group and authorized distributor of Nokia products. The Apprentice event was open to all Carnegie Mellon Qatar students, not just those enrolled in Business Administration. cmBA is planning to hold more business challenges over the remainder of the academic year. Q November 2007 akhbar 31

campus news

Distinguished Lecture Series

Kentaro Toyama, Ph.D.

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Director of Microsoft Research India


entaro Toyama, Ph.D., director of Microsoft Research India, was the first speaker for the Fall 2007 semester in Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s Distinguished Lecture Series. The philosophy behind the Distinguished Lecture Series is to bring people from all over the world to Doha so students can meet successful professionals and see how they can take their education and apply it in the workplace. Toyama heads up the Technology for Emerging Markets research group at Microsoft Research India. Located in Bangalore, the group conducts social science and technology research to identify applications of technology for socioeconomic development of under-served communities. In addition to playing a critical role in establishing Microsoft Research India, which opened in January 2005, Toyama is responsible for helping guide the lab’s direction and growth. While in Doha, Toyama met with Carnegie Mellon Qatar computer science faculty members and discussed Microsoft’s research operations in India. He also spoke about opportunities for computer science research in Qatar, and the possibility of collaboration between students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon Qatar and researchers in India. Additionally, Toyama met with senior computer science students, asking them about their career plans and showing them how computer science research can impact the world’s poorest communities. “Toyama managed to connect very well with our students by discussing some of his state-of-the-art research in computer science. He inspired them to want to do research as well as understand

the significance of scientific research,” says Majd Sakr, Ph.D., computer science faculty member at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “His visit to Doha and his interaction with our computer science faculty has identified several areas for collaboration between computer scientists at Microsoft India and Carnegie Mellon Qatar.” Toyama gave an exclusive Education City lecture on the computer vision at Microsoft Research India as well as a public lecture on “Computing for Socioeconomic Development,” which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel. More than 100 people turned out for the public lecture to learn about Microsoft’s research efforts in this part of the world. Kentaro also visited ROTA and the Al Noor Institute for Individuals with Visual Impairment.

campus news

Jinanne Tabra (Tepper 2008), left, and Noor Al Athirah (Tepper 2008) won Student Service Awards, which are presented by the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association. Both students traveled to Pittsburgh in October to attend the awards dinner.

Two seniors win Student Service Awards


oor Al Athirah (Tepper 2008) and Jinanne Tabra (Tepper 2008) have been awarded one of the highest honors an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University can receive. The Student Service Awards, presented by the Alumni Association, are given to no more than six students per year. No more than two awards may be bestowed to students from any one college, and this year only five awards were granted throughout the entire university. “Noor and Jinanne met the criteria in an extremely impressive way by combining a high level of academic accomplishment with strong involvement in all areas of campus life,” says John Robertson, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, who nominated both girls. The criteria for winning the award are that the students possess a record of “an exemplary balance of outstanding academics and participation in extra-curricular activities, while providing exceptional service to the University, the student body and/ or community.” Among their achievements, Al Athirah started the All Around student newspaper in 2004 and Tabra

is active on the student government. “Their accomplishment is something we should all be proud of since it is also recognition of the excellence of the courses we are delivering here in Qatar and the quality of our campus life,” Robertson says. “These awards also show the level of respect from the main campus.” Al Athirah and Tabra were honored at the Alumni Awards Dinner in Pittsburgh on Friday, October 26. Both students gave eloquent speeches to a roomful of alumni, current students, staff and faculty. In Tabra’s speech, she spoke about the magnitude of Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “There is a little campus in the Gulf where big, big things are happening,” she says. “Noor and I are the first students from Qatar to win this award, but I promise you we won’t be the last.” Al Athirah’s mother, Maha, and brother, Samer, accompanied her on the trip, and Tabra’s mother, Dawn, accompanied her. The group spent three days in Pittsburgh where they toured the city, visited the Carnegie Science Center and enjoyed the brisk autumn weather and colorful trees. November 2007 akhbar 33

campus news

Summer College Preview Program wraps up a successful first year T

wenty-two high school seniors and 13 juniors says 115 applications were received with a goal of spent three weeks over the summer enrolled in admitting 30 students. Because the applicants were so a program designed to better prepare them for the promising, 35 students were accepted. demanding curriculum of a selective American uniThe program was very intense with classes versity. running all day and homework in the evenings. StuEach day the students in the dents took practice SAT exams at the Summer College Preview Program end of each week and even went to “Students responded took courses in English, math and amazingly well to the mock college admissions interviews. SAT Exam preparation. Students In addition to their classes, counselprogram.” also attended personal development ors worked with the students on time - Gloria P. Hill, Ph.D. management, goal setting and stress workshops and worked on a project Assistant Vice Provost management. in either Business Administration or for Education Computer Science. Six of the eight instructors in Through this, the 22 women the program came from Carnegie and 13 men learned first-hand how heavy a college Mellon’s home campus in Pittsburgh. “The teachcourse load can be and what caliber of work will be ers were an extraordinary collection of people,” Hill expected of them if they are to succeed. says. “Students responded amazingly well to the “They were in their office all day working program,” says Gloria P. Hill, Ph.D., Carnegie Melwith students.” In fact, all of the instructors have lon University in Qatar Vice Provost for Education. asked to come back to teach in future programs. “They saw it as an opportunity to see what college Current Carnegie Mellon students also served would be like and they pushed themselves and proved as peer tutors, helping students with coursework and they were able to do it.” answering questions about life at Education City. Admission to the Summer College Preview Based on the success of this program, Hills Program was highly selective and only top students says Carnegie Mellon plans to continue holding the were accepted. Bryan Zerbe, Director of Admissions, Summer College Preview Program each year.

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campus news

Arabic Search Engine Workshop


epresentatives from leading local and regional organizations joined together for the Arabic Search Engine Workshop, an initiative by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. The two-day workshop, held at the Doha Marriott on June 17 & 18, was developed to identify concrete strategies for Qatar to emerge as a leading commercial and research center for advances related to Arabic language technologies. “The workshop investigated the possibility of creating an Arabic Language Technologies Center in Qatar and, more specifically, developing a high-quality Arabic Web search engine,” says Jaime Carbonell, Allen Newell Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Newell served as moderator for the workshop. “Carnegie Mellon is exploring teaming with other regional research and development groups to create regional expertise in these areas. Carnegie Mellon faculty and students would provide scientific and technological support for Web search and Arabic/ English machine translation,” says Carbonell. “Longer term objectives in the collaboration include developing language technologies expertise in Qatar and joint research on

improved methods for search and translation, especially focused on the unique characteristics of the Arabic language and Arabic users." The workshop, which is one of several research initiatives Carnegie Mellon Qatar is planning, was comprised of four sessions divided over the two days. The sessions covered commercialization and explored existing initiatives in Arabic search engine technology by Web and computing giants such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. The sessions also helped seek a consensus on an overall project path to develop a Qatar-based focus on Arabic search engine and related technologies. “Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is pleased to host the workshop to bring our faculty experts to meet with stakeholders and potential partners in Qatar and the region to discuss paths to establish research and commercial endeavors in Arabic language technologies,” says Anqi Qian, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Initiatives, Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Participating organizations include: Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar University, ictQatar, iHorizons, Microsoft Egypt, Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar Science & Technology Park and Qatar Capital Partners.

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campus news


Undergraduates Continue Pursuing Research

ndergraduates in Qatar are continuing Carnegie Mellon’s long-established tradition of research with the help of the Qatar National Research Fund's second Undergraduate Research Experience Program cycle. “Research is important because you are inventing knowledge, learning what’s not in the books and going where no one else has gone,” says Iliano Cervesato, Ph.D., Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “It’s hard, but it’s also extremely rewarding.” Two senior Business Administration students, Maha Al-Shirrawi and Rooda Al Neama, are working with faculty member Silvia Pessoa on a project entitled Immigrant Workers in Qatar: Documenting their history and current situation. This research project will explore the history and current situation of low-skilled immigrant workers in Qatar through an analysis of news media and interviews with government officials and immigrant workers. Additionally, sophomore Computer Science major Hatem Alismail is working with faculty members Brett Browning, Ph.D., and Majd Sakr, Ph.D., on a proposal to do a robot vision project that they are hoping to use on the Roboceptionist (a robot receptionist) system planned for Qatar. Alismail is trying to build and implement a roboceptionist that is cognizant of how to interact with people in the Arab world. Qatar National Research Fund was established in 2006 to administer funding for original, competitively-selected research in engineering and technology, physical and life sciences, medicine, humanities, social sciences and the arts.

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Recognizing the importance of introducing research to undergraduate education in Qatar, QNRF initiated the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). This program aims to engage undergraduates - under the mentorship of faculty members - in all universities in Qatar on research projects related to Qatar’s national needs. Eighty-six applications were submitted for this round of UREP grants, with 51 being awarded. There are two rounds of UREF grants awarded each academic year. Each grant is valued up to $10,000. Forty percent goes to the student, 20 percent to the faculty advisor and 40 percent for equipment and travel. One quarter of the money is paid upon signing, another 25 percent is paid at the midway evolution point and the remaining 50 percent is paid upon completion. To be awarded a grant, students must show the anticipated benefit they will receive as well as the benefit to the State of Qatar. Students must also explain the intellectual merit of the proposal and consider external collaboration. Round 1 of the UREP grants awarded $1 million over 62 proposals. Round 2 awarded $1.3 million over 51 projects. Round 3 has $2.75 million allocated. Three Carnegie Mellon student received grants in Round 1, and several have applied for Round 3 grants. “It’s a growing culture at Carnegie Mellon that undergraduates do research,” says Cervesato. “Research is also important in promoting Qatar and furthering the mission of creating a knowledge-based economy.”

campus news



Computer Science for Qatar

Teachers take part in a second CS4Qatar workshop held by Computer Science faculty members


omputer Science teachers from high schools all over Qatar will be attending the second CS4Qatar, a program offered by the Computer Science faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. The two-day professional development workshop is designed for educators in Qatar who want to broaden their horizons in the ever-expanding and broad-reaching field of computer science. “It’s wonderful to see so many teachers interested in CS4Qatar. The teachers' enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge encourages the Computer Science faculty at Carnegie Mellon to continue to partner with them to advance the state of the technological art in local schools,” says Mark Stehlik, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education in the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, who teaches the courses. “It also provides further evidence that Qatar is moving more and more toward an information-based and technologydriven economy, and that education will lead the way in this regard.” The workshop, which is part of a series of outreach events Carnegie Mellon Qatar is planning, will be comprised of seminars on two topics: The first is on algorithms, which are the core of Computer Science; the second will focus on Java Graphics, a program that allows students to focus on programming techniques and not on the details of the graphics.

“It’s wonderful to see so many teachers interested in CS4Qatar. The teachers’ enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge encourages the Computer Science faculty at Carnegie Mellon to continue to partner with them to advance the state of the technological art in local schools.” - Mark Stehlik Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education

November 2007 akhbar 37

campus news

Carnegie Mellon

hosting a Symposium on Community


arnegie Mellon University in Qatar is holding a Symposium on Community, Nov. 13 and 14. The event will focus on critical issues in higher education and their particular relevance to those in Education City. “The spotlight of the symposium is on the development of the ideal campus community,” says Gloria Khoury, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Khoury conceived on the symposium after many discussions with student services staff at other Education City universities revealed they were all facing the same issues. Mainly how to adapt programs from home campuses in the United States in a way that is relevant and meaningful to students in Doha. She then began discussing the idea with Michael Murphy, Vice President of Enrollment at Carnegie Mellon University, who made some phone calls and was able to line up speakers who can best address the issues at hand.

“Education City is growing so fast. We need to partner together and think together as a community,” Khoury says. Some 80 participants are expected for the event. The symposium will kick off with an opening reception and dinner on Tuesday evening. Then on Wednesday, five special guests with experience at top American universities will speak. Their speeches will explore issues of intellectual and artistic missions, student development, community engagement and the model community. “Our experience at Education City is so unique and this conference will help us continue to explore it together as one community. We can also gain an appreciation of the work each campus does,” says Khoury. In addition to many colleagues from Doha, student affairs vice presidents from all Education City universities will be in attendance.

Computer Science conference being held in Doha


arnegie Mellon University in Qatar, along with Q-Cert, is hosting the 12th Annual ASIAN Computing Science Conference, Dec. 9 to 11. The series of annual Asian Computing Science Conferences (ASIAN) was initiated in 1995 to provide a forum for researchers in computer science from the Asian continent, and to promote interaction with researchers in other regions. The conference moves to a different center of research throughout Asia every year, and has been held in Thailand, Japan, India and Malaysia. Iliano Cervesato, Ph.D., computer science professor, attended the conference in Tokyo in 2006, and decided Carn-

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egie Mellon Qatar would serve as an excellent conference host. “Part of our mission is to make Qatar a world-renowned center for research. This conference gives us the chance to showcase Qatar and Carnegie Mellon and everything that is happening here,” he says. “Plus this is the first time the conference will be in west Asia.” The focus of this year’s conference is computer and network security. Cervesato expects Approximately 50 computer science professionals will attend.

While the conference is centered on Asia, the conference is open to people from all over the world. More than 100 papers have been submitted, and Cervesato says about half will be reviewed with approximately 20 selected for presentation. Three major speakers, one from the U.S., one from Europe and one from Asia, will also be on the agenda. This will be the first computer-science-focused conference in Doha, Cervesato says. The goals for the event are to grow the field of computer science, for people to present research to colleagues and to encourage collaborations, he says. For more information, visit www.qatar.cmu.edu/asian07.

e r o m o Soph adventure M

campus news

Two Tepper students spend the fall term in Doha egan Larcom (Tepper 2010) was looking for an internship opportunity when she found out there was an opening for a summer position at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. She left Pittsburgh and headed for Doha where she worked in the student affairs department planning a community service trip to Jordan. She enjoyed her time in Doha so much that she decided to spend the fall term of her sophomore year there. “I knew it would be hard to leave after only spending one year on campus but the benefits outweighed the bad,” she says. Larcom, a member of the Tartan Crew rowing team, told her friend and fellow crew team member Hillary Smith (Tepper 2010) about her plans, and Smith decided to spend a semester abroad too. “I was excited to go and learn about Qatar, but I think my parents were even more excited.” Both Larcom and Smith applied to be Teaching Assistants, a position that can be hard to come by for sophomores in Pittsburgh. And something they both felt was advantageous to the academic experience. “TAing is an awesome new experience for me. The freshman are quite an interesting bunch, and I am having a lot of fun working with them,” says Smith. In addition to being a Teaching Assistant and taking courses, the girls are taking in all that the new campus has to offer. The greatest difference

Tepper sophomores Megan Larcom, back right, and Hillary Smith, front left, are spending the Fall 2007 term in Doha. Both went to Jordan on a three-day service trip to work with Habitat for Humanity. between the Doha and Pittsburgh campuses, says Larcom, is a sense of community. “The reception by the students, faculty and staff here at Carnegie Mellon Qatar has been gratifying. From inclusion in student organization events to community Iftars, I feel welcomed,” she says. Apart from the smallnature of the campus, Larcom says her experience in Doha differs from that in Pittsburgh because of “the little things” such as hearing Justin Timberlake on the radio while passing a Mosque or going into Carrefour and being overwhelmed by fifty varieties of rice. Or turning on the cold water and being greeted by warm water, and listening to the call to prayer on the way to Chili’s. Then of course there is the low cost of

gas, the wealth of the country and the juxtaposition of Western influence and Middle East customs. Both Smith and Larcom say they miss familiar traits of Pittsburgh such as trees and bagels, but both have found a new fondness for local fare such as juice stalls, kumquats, dates and, of course, Turkey Central Restaurant. “Pittsburgh and Doha seem polar opposites one day and twins the next,” Larcom says. “My experience in Doha thus far has been amazing. The benefits of an exchange are endless—new friends, new cultures, new outlooks. I hope to see many other Pittsburgh students take the opportunity to study in Doha, just as I hope to see many of my fellow students here study in Pittsburgh.” November 2007 akhbar 39

campus news

Reaching OUT

Principal Fellow Lynn Carter teaching courses via the Internet


hile Lynn Carter, Ph.D., principal fellow and associate teaching professor, is based in Doha and teaches courses at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, his educational outreach can be felt all over the world. This term in addition to his two undergraduate classes in Qatar, Carter is mentoring four graduate students at Carnegie Mellon's main campus in Pittsburgh. He also is teaching a master’s level software engineering course, the Predictable Software Professional, to 12 students at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Hyderabad in India, in the MSIT Software Engineering Specialization. As an adjunct faculty member, he teaches the course live on Skype, a computer software program that allows him to connect to the classroom via Internet connection and live webcam. When the Internet in Hyderabad is behaving, it’s a full two-way communication that allows the students to see him during the lecture, however his view into the classroom is limited. Sometimes the connection is not good and the link is reduced to just voice communications. Carter sends his Powerpoint to a teaching aide in Hyderabad prior to the lecture and the slides are projected onto a screen in the classroom next to a large computer screen that shows him during the lecture. “At first it’s strange not be-

40 akhbar November 2007

ing able to see all of the students, but you get used to that way of teaching,” he says. “Because of my limited view and when I'm audio only, I had to learn to listen much more carefully in order to detect from the students what I would accomplish by visual cues in a normal classroom setting.” Carter designed this course and taught an earlier version of it at Carnegie Mellon’s West Coast Campus in Mountain View, California, U.S.A., where he was a founding faculty member. Additionally, Carter was the focal point for the deployment of Carnegie Mellon's MSIT in software engineering to the SSN School of Advanced Software Engineering of Chennai in India, who purchased this program. The faculty in Chennai and Pittsburgh partner in delivering Carnegie Mellon quality education to students who spend a year at the SSN campus and at least six months at the Pittsburgh campus. Roughly one hundred students have now earned a Carnegie Mellon MSIT/SE through that program.

A longtime software developer, researcher, and educator, Carter jumped at the chance to teach this course at Hyderabad from Doha. “Carnegie Mellon’s educational reach is all over the world. Even from Doha we can continue on that mission,” he says. “I’m proud of what we’re doing here and I’m proactive in talking about Doha to my students in India,” he says. Plus the minimal time difference and close proximity between Hyderabad and Doha allows teachers and students in the two cities to work together on any number of projects. Carter is not the first Carnegie Mellon faculty member or graduate to teach in Hyderabad, and he hopes to not be the last. In addition to the software engineering course being taught in India, Carter taught a version of his Predictable Professional Performance workshop to graduate students in Carnegie Mellon's INI/ CyLab in Kobe, Japan last Spring, and over the summer has been collaborating with a professor in Australia, who is also teaching the course. Queensland University is one of the latest schools to acquire Carnegie Mellon’s MSIT in software engineering curriculum and this time it includes Carter's course. "Modern computing and communications technologies are changing the way high quality education is being delivered to the world and I want Carnegie Mellon to be a major player."

campus news

New travel Web site is launched


new Web site has been launched to assist and support members of the Carnegie Mellon University community who travel internationally. iTravel, www.cmu.edu/iTravel, provides a wealth of categorized information specific for a destination country. Users can search the site by cultural facts, health information or logistics. Information such as suggested immunizations, Embassy and Visa requirements, country facts and cellular phone support are all available. A worldwide daily security report, as well as a special report dedicated to the Middle East region, can also be found. Jim Gartner, Senior Director of Global Security, says the idea for the Web page came about after a tsunami hit Asia on Dec. 2, 2004. “That triggered university administration’s desire to provide travelers with a one-stop shop for all international travel needs,” he says. The timing of the Web site also coincided with the university’s global expansion to far-away destinations such as Qatar, Australia and Singapore. Having all travel information in one place can alleviate concerns regarding safety and people can make informed decisions before they travel, Gartner say. Additionally, iTravel features links to many sites travelers might wish to access before a trip. They include: the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. State Department as well as other governmental travel links and several other useful tools and links. iTravel was worked on by a team of people cross cut from all areas of the university. Members of the team provided input and feedback concerning international travel, thus shaping the Web site to serve both the business traveler and the personal traveler. “Our hope for the site is that the community will utilize it; that it meets their needs; and that it provides them with useful and timely information,” Gartner says. “We hope it meets the wide variety of needs associated with international travel.” Visit iTravel at www.cmu.edu/iTravel.

November 2007 akhbar 41

campus news


at Work

Interns wow General Electric


eneral Electric was singing the praises of Carnegie Mellon Qatar, after six Business Administration students spent the summer working as interns. “Thank you for this caliber of students,” says Alberto Bonardi, GE Middle East Commercial Leader. “They came to us with great skills and abilities and added value to our organization.” Maha Mahmoud (Tepper 2009), Noor Al Maadeed (Tepper 2009), Salma Kayali (Tepper 2009), Jinanne Tabra (Tepper 2008), Hicham Nedjari (Tepper 2009) and Noor Al Athirah (Tepper 2008) all worked on different projects in different areas of the company. “I felt that I could really make a difference,” says Tabra. “And I was able to get a feel for GE across the entire company.” Bonardi says the level of the students was well above average, and that many of his colleagues bragged to other GE offices about 42 akhbar November 2007

their Carnegie Mellon interns. “We were impressed by the way they think - their quantitative approach to their work,” Bonardi says. Internships like these really help validate what Carnegie Mellon is doing in Doha and why we’re doing it, according to J. Patrick McGinnis, Lecturer of Management Communications, who has taught all six students. “Tepper students are contributors to the organizations they work for. Students in Doha are no exception. They are continuing that important tradition,” says McGinnis. “These students are another example of the impact Carnegie Mellon grads are going to make in the business community all over the Gulf Region.” Another GE rep said these students made a footprint on the company, and that their hard work laid the foundation for a lasting and powerful relationship between GE and Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

campus news

Office of Professional Development holding lecture series and networking events


ffshoring is a modern business practice that incurs many risks and requires careful management of critical success factors. Increasingly, students majoring in information systems, business administration and computer science will be involved as managers or technologists in projects engaging multiple providers and development teams in diverse locations. Management of offshoring relationships will be an essential skill for students expecting to participate in the emerging IT marketplace of the 21st century. Thus a series of professional lectures, which is part of the Global Systems Delivery Models course, is being offered for the first time this fall. “The objective of these lectures is to provide students and the community with an insight into the real world of outsourcing the Middle East. After the lectures, the students will be challenged to think critically about the concepts and engage in constructive discussions,” says Khadra Dualeh, Director of the Office of Professional Development. All lectures are hosted by Selma Limam Mansar, and are organized with the assistance of Anqi Qian. Thursday, November 8 Eddie Cunningham Sales and Marketing Director, EDS Tuesday, November 13 Kartik Sarwade

Sales Manager, Prithvi Solutions Tuesday, November 20 Ihab Foudeh, Director of Services, Microsoft Thursday, November 29 Steve Iliohan Program Manager, New Doha International Airport Systems The Office of Professional Development is hosting two events for students to network with local business professionals. Wednesday, November 7 Connections “Networking & Recruitment” Reception As Carnegie Mellon Qatar celebrates its first graduating class this coming summer, we have invited recruiters to have an early opportunity to tap into our talent pool, Dualeh says. This is primarily a networking opportunity for the senior class to discuss career opportunities and options with industry representatives. Sunday, November 18 The Qatar Career Fair Organized by Qatar Foundation, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar University The fair aims to showcase the recruitment, training and career development opportunities available for Qatari students as well as fresh graduates. They have confirmed participation of 110 companies from the public and private sector. November 2007 akhbar 43

campus news

FACULTY & STAFF NEWS As we begin our fourth academic year, we are pleased to welcome many new people to the Qatar family. We are also happy to welcome back a few familiar faces.


Mohamed Dobashi, Sj.D., is the Chief Operations Officer at Carnegie Mellon Qatar and an instructor in the Business Administration program. Dobashi holds a Bachelor’s Degree in international business and economics from Pacific Lutheran University; a Master’s Degree in management from University of Texas; an MBA from Thunderbird Global School of Management; and a Doctor of Law from Northwestern University Law School. Before joining Carnegie Mellon, Dobashi held posts at Stanford and Harvard universities. Dave Gilbert is a philosophy instructor for all grades of students at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Gilbert’s research interests include philosophical logic, metaphysics and the philosophy of mathematics. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Toronto and a Master’s Degree from University of Oxford. Before arriving in Qatar he was a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh.

Dudley Reynolds, Ph.D., is an associate teaching professor of English and the Director of Research in English Language Learning. Before joining Carnegie Mellon, he was an associate professor at University of Houston in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. Reynolds holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Davidson College; a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics; and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from University of Indiana. His areas of research include English language learning, language assessment and testing, second language writing and applied linguistics. Hope Rodefer is an English as a Second Language (ESL) specialist at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. She works in the Academic Resource Center providing English support to students in need of assistance. She has worked at the American School of Doha and as an ESL specialist at Qatar Academy. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology from Kenyon College and a Master’s Degree in teaching from the School for International Training.

Selma Limam Mansar, Ph.D., is an associate teaching professor in the new Information Systems major. Before joining Carnegie Mellon, Limam Mansar held a post as an assistant professor of Management of Information Systems at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. Limam Mansar holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. from Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble. Her area of research focuses on Business Process Management including best practices in business process redesign.

Alex Rojas Ph.D., is a visiting lecturer of Probability and Statistics for Business Administration students. Rojas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in statistics from National University of Columbia; a Master’s Degree in mathematics from University of Puerto Rico; a Master’s Degree in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University; and a Ph.D. in statistics. His area of research includes nonparametric statistics, astrophysics and machine learning. Before coming to Doha, Rojas was an instructor in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Robert Monroe, Ph.D., is an associate teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. He teaches courses in the Business Administration and Computer Science programs. Monroe has a Bachelor's Degree from University of Michigan and a Master's Degree and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests include the business of software, innovative applications of computing and trustworthy computing. Monroe is also an associate teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh.

Karem Sakallah, Ph.D., is a visiting professor of computer science. His research includes verification of hardware and software systems, constraint solving based on Boolean Satisfiability and satisfiability modulo theories. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the American University of Beirut, and a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Sakallah is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at University of Michigan, and is

44 akhbar November 2007

campus news on a one-year sabbatical at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Additionally, he is a member of Qatar Foundation’s Arab Expatriate Scientists Committee and will be involved in planning for the establishment of a research center to be called Al-Khwarizmi Institute for Computer Information Science Engineering. Thierry Sans, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral research associate who is teaching classes in computer programming. Sans' research interest focuses on computer security including security policies, access control and digital rights management. Sans holds a bachelor' degree from Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France; a master's degree from the National Higher School of Aeronautics and Space (Sup'Aero - ENSAE), Toulouse, France; and a Ph.D. from the National Higher School of Telecommunication in Britanny (GET/ENST-Bretagne), Rennes, France. Wilfried Sieg, Ph.D., is a professor of Logic & Computation. He has been a professor at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh since 1985. Sieg’s research interests encompass mathematical logic, philosophy & history of modern mathematics, theory of computation and foundations of cognitive science. Sieg holds a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics and physics from Free University Berlin; a Master’s Degree in mathematics and logic from University of Munster; and a Ph.D. in philosophy and mathematical logic from Stanford University. Russell Walker is an associate teaching professor and the Director of the Academic Resource Center. He teaches Graph Theory and Integral Calculus to undergraduate students. Walker holds a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics from University of Akron; a Master’s Degree in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University; and a Doctor of Arts in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University. Walker is a longtime associate teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh. Susan Walker, Ph.D., is a visiting associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Walker’s major area of interest is in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is the single most common psychiatric disorder of childhood. Walker holds a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh. She is also a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist in Pennsylvania. Before joining Carnegie Mellon she was a professor of psychology at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania.

George White, Ph.D., is an associate teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. White teaches Introduction to Entrepreneurship to undergraduate students, and is one of the instructors in the Executive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program held in conjunction with QSTP. White holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University and has extensive experience as an entrepreneur. He has held posts at Stanford University, the Center for the Study of Language & Information Industrial Affiliates and the Institute for Infocomm Research. His areas of research include cognitive science, corporate leadership and personal telephone assistance.


New staff include: Greg Smith, Student Development Coordinator; Jarrod Mock, Student Development Coordinator; Peter Gilmore, Teaching Academic Systems Support Engineer; Zaher Andraus, Teaching Assistant; Emily Leathers, Academic Assistant; Megan Larcom, Teaching Assistant. Hillary Smith, Teaching Assistant; Darbi Roberts, Student Development Coordinator; David Baker, Academic Assistant; Yenezia Cadena-Malek, Director of Health and Wellness; Rowena Soto, Administrative Assistant; and Melissa Dechamps, Director of International Education.


Isabelle Eula, Head Librarian, has been awarded the Library Faculty Excellence Award for her work at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Gloria Khoury, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, nominated her. In addition to the award, Eula received a $250 cash prize. Jim Gartner, Senior Director of Global Security, has been appointed Chair of the Overseas Security Advisory Council. The mission of OSAC is to serve as a liaison between the U.S. Department of State and private companies and universities that operate overseas. This includes providing information on pandemic planning, global security, crisis planning and accident management. Gartner was named Vice Chair of OSAC in the fall of 2006. The Chair position has an open-ended term. November 2007 akhbar 45

pittsburgh connection

Posner Center

A must-see sight on Pittsburgh’s campus


eautiful inside and out, Posner Center on Carnegie Mellon’s flagship campus in Pittsburgh is full of priceless treasures. The 11,400-square-foot, earth-sheltered building has a rooftop garden called the Kraus Campo. A meditative outdoor space created by alumnus artist Mel Bochner (A 1964) and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the area offers a meeting place symbolic of Carnegie Mellon’s multidisciplinary philosophy. Along the meandering pathways of the garden and upon its central platform, students and faculty can relax at this communal crossroads of the arts, business, science and humanities. The bright orange pathways are flanked with drifting mounds of evergreen boxwoods, brightly flowered azaleas and semi-dwarf red level Japanese barberry. The designers chose these plantings for their visual qualities, hardiness and compatibility with the four seasons of western Pennsylvania. The composition of the plantings provides a counterpoint of colors and shapes that offer a different character in each of the four seasons.

46 akhbar November 2007

pittsburgh connection

Posner Center is home to one of the four extant copies of the first printing of the U. S. Bill of Rights and its ratifications. The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments limit the powers of the federal government, protect the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory. The rare document is kept in a vault and only brought out for Constitution Day and other special occasions. Above, many of the Posners’ jade and ivory pieces are on display at the center.

Underneath the living roof, Posner Center houses rare and historic books and art collected by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Posner Sr., who donated the center in memory of Henry’s parents. The collection is notable for works recording the history of science, and for finely bound books, classic literature and other important documents. One of the rarest items in the collection is one of the original four extant copies of the first printing of the U. S. Bill of Rights and its ratifications. On permanent loan to the university from the Posner family, the 1792 document was distributed by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson to governors of the 14 states. In honor of Constitution Day on September 17 each year, University Libraries displays the rare piece of American history. The rest of the year, the document is safely locked in a vault.

The Posner Memorial Collection of six hundred twenty-two titles includes landmark titles of the history of western science, beautifully produced books on decorative arts and fine sets of literature. Henry Posner, Sr. formed the collection from 1924 to 1973, starting with literature and decorative arts and, after 1950, focusing on the history of science. The Posners also collected glass, ivory, jade and other minerals from Asia and Europe, much of which is on display. To further preserve and protect the collection, the Posner family also supported its digitization. As a result, nearly all of the collection is available in fulltext to researchers online at library.cmu.edu/Libraries/Posner. Fulfilling the Posner family's educational continued on page 48 November 2007 akhbar 47

pittsburgh connection

The side façade of the Tepper School of Business, which has been painted blue, features a 6 by 58-foot-long tiled quotation from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The quotation has been transcribed backwards as a “mental exercise.”

continued from page 47

mission for their collection, the Posner Fine Arts Foundation funds two internships per year for Carnegie Mellon students. Student interns work directly with collection materials and create major exhibits on topics of their choice. Library staff mount smaller displays from the collection throughout the year. Posner Center also features a Boardroom that is the home of the Carnegie Mellon Board of Trustees. The Boardroom is available to the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Advisory Boards and similar groups, and may be used for other university meetings depending on specific needs and availability. Posner Center is located on the Carnegie Mellon campus between the College of Fine Arts and the Tepper School of Business. Posner Center gallery and exhibits are open Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., except holidays and during designated VIP events. Visit the Posner Center collection online at www. library.cmu.edu/Libraries/Posner. Q

48 akhbar November 2007

At the heart of the garden sits the campo, a 25 by 60 by 3-foot, tile-covered sculptural platform based on the shape of a French curve, a tool common to artists, architects and engineers alike. Black numbers imbedded in white tiles that cover the platform are indicative of the numerical sequencing patterns of Bochner’s art.

continued from page 50

robotics at University of Queensland in hopes of designing a robot that could figure out where it was, something that is a fundamental problem in robotics, he says. “There is an uncertainly with location. Because of that, it makes the problem much harder. Robotics can be very frustrating because things don’t always work. But when they do, it’s amazing.” In addition to his coursework as a Ph.D. student, Browning participated in RoboCup, an international research and education initiative that uses soccer playing robots. He boarded a commercial plane for the first time and headed to Paris, France for the final. Despite his hard work and dedication his team, “The Roboroos,” came in second, losing to a world-renowned American university named Carnegie Mellon. While at that championship, Manuela Veloso, a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon, recognized Browning’s enthusiasm and dedication to his work and asked Browning to come to the university to do post-doctoral work. Browning finished his Ph.D., in Australia – complete with a 300-page thesis – on Aug. 25, 2000, packed his bags and headed to Pittsburgh only two days later. Browning says he was a bit awestruck by the fact that many people whose work he admired were now his colleagues. They included Hans Moravec, the grandfather of mobile robots, who worked on the Stanford Cart; and Chuck Thorpe, who headed up NAVLAB, a group building robot cars, trucks and buses capable of autonomous driving or driver assistance. And who is now the Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “The number of people working in robotics at Carnegie Mellon is astounding. I got here and realized there is so much going on in this field,” he says. “I wanted to learn as much about as many things as I could.” Knowing he was good at engineering, Browning recognized he had to ramp up his abilities as a researcher. He spent two years completely engrossed in research before being offered a faculty position, a job that would enable him to share his passion with young students. His robotics work has taken him to places as far away as Sweden, Portugal, Japan and Italy. In 2006, he co-taught a robotics course at a school in Ghana. Part of the reason for the course was as a way of showing students that robotics is a field open to people from all walks of life.

the back story

Browning built the viper robot, above, while working on his Ph.D. in Australia. Two students in Ghana work with the robot they built in class (bottom photo).

Browning also has been teaching courses at Carnegie Mellon Qatar since 2005. With so much focus on the Arab world for all the wrong reasons, he says was thrilled at the concept of using money from oil and gas for something such as education and technology. Browning says a lot of factors contributed to his career trajectory: fate, family, poor hearing and inspiring teachers to name a few. “I had the right role models at the right times, and that gave me opportunities and inspired me”. Part of his mission for teaching in Qatar is to let students in the Middle East know what is out there and create opportunities for them to see what they can do. Just like his teachers and role models did for him. Q The Back Story is an Akhbar feature that chronicles the life of a Carnegie Mellon Qatar staff or faculty member before coming to Doha.

November 2007 akhbar 49

the back story

Systems Scientist Brett Browning, Ph.D., built the cmdragons, a robot soccer team, with his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

artificial intelligence

A career in robotics has taken Systems Scientist Brett Browning around the world


rowing up in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, Australia, Systems Scientist Brett Browning, Ph.D., always had a desire to build things. An interest that was due in part to his father, who built houses for a living. Yet Browning had no idea he could build something as out of the ordinary as robots. That is until a visitor came to his fifth grade class. The guest speaker demonstrated a robot that was made out of Tupperware plastic dishes. While a bit low tech, the robot was humanoid based and talked, and left quite an impression. “Very few people have jobs where they get to build different things like robots,” Browning says. “I thought it was very cool.” With his interest peaked, Browning soon got his hands on one of his uncle’s old physics books. Reading this book is what he says led him into the 50 akhbar November 2007

field of science and technology. Until this time, Browning was hoping to have a career as a pilot in the Air Force. He was dejected to learn that his hearing loss in one ear would prohibit that dream from ever coming to fruition. Little did he know that building robots would end up being what would pilot him around the globe. Upon graduation from high school, Browning earned a dual undergraduate degree in mathematics and engineering from University of Queensland. In his fourth year of his undergraduate education he had to write a thesis. When one of his lecturers gave a talk on artificial intelligence, Browning was caught hook, line and sinker, he says. “I realized I could build something real using electronics and programming,” he says. “And that was it, my thesis was on robotics.” From there, Browning pursued a Ph.D. in continued on page 49

Now offering an undergraduate degree in

Information Systems

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is now offering an Information Systems undergraduate degree. This program is an internationally recognized, Bachelor of Science degree for students who want to understand and solve information problems for organizations.

The focus of the IS program is on giving students the knowledge and skills necessary to design systems for the effective use of information. Graduates of the IS program are ideally situated to take leading roles in shaping our information-based economy. The IS degree program is a natural complement to the two other majors at Carnegie Mellon Qatar: Business Administration and Computer Science.

To learn more:

+974 454 8400 www.qatar.cmu.edu


Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar A Member of Qatar Foundation P.O. Box 24866 Doha, Qatar www.qatar.cmu.edu

Profile for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar

Akhbar, Fall 2007  

Akhbar, Fall 2007  


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