Thank you Carnegie Mellon!

Yesterday I spent most of the day hanging out with professors and students at Carnegie Mellon. What an amazing place!

First of all, the robotic lab is oooohhh sssoooo cccoooollll. I got an hour tour through four of their labs and I’ll get that video up in a couple of weeks.

Second, I spent an hour with Randy Pausch, co-director of the Entertainment Technology Center. You know how sometimes you meet someone, you have no clue what they do, but within the first minute you realize they are just freaking smart and you’re going to have an interesting conversation? That is what happened in the first minute of meeting Randy.

And, it wasn’t exactly an easy conversation either (smart people often challenge you). He took Microsoft to task (and really all of the industry) for not doing enough to build relationships with academics. He says it’s a rare day when he gets a call from a hiring manager at Microsoft. Says that five minutes with him on the phone will teach you more about a candidate than a day-long interview. Great lesson for anyone hiring students (and Carnegie Mellon has more than its fair share of the best).

Anyway, Randy also showed me Alice — a new programming environment that makes it fun to learn how to program. This is a HUGE advance in the ability to make programming fun for newcomers. I got video of Randy showing it off (Randy has been working on this since the early 1990s). Stephen Figgins over on O’Reilly has more.

Thank you CMU for the wonderful day!

23 thoughts on “Thank you Carnegie Mellon!

  1. This was before Randy got sick. What an inspiring person. It’s not fair that he is leaving us so soon.

  2. This was before Randy got sick. What an inspiring person. It’s not fair that he is leaving us so soon.

  3. Glad you enjoyed your visit to my alma mater. I remember hanging out in Wean Hall back in the day (but since my major was biology and not CS/EE/Robotics, I remember it more fondly as a place to play Laser Tag with my CIT buds and go drag them out of the computer cluster and away from the latest XTrek competition to go eat or catch a movie.

    Let’s hope the programming they’re making CMU’s non-CS/EE/Robotics majors take these days really is fun and not like the old Corel the robot thing they had back in the late 80s.

  4. Glad you enjoyed your visit to my alma mater. I remember hanging out in Wean Hall back in the day (but since my major was biology and not CS/EE/Robotics, I remember it more fondly as a place to play Laser Tag with my CIT buds and go drag them out of the computer cluster and away from the latest XTrek competition to go eat or catch a movie.

    Let’s hope the programming they’re making CMU’s non-CS/EE/Robotics majors take these days really is fun and not like the old Corel the robot thing they had back in the late 80s.

  5. Alice was partly funded by Microsoft Research (MSR). The full sponsor list (from CMU’s website) is: DARPA, Intel, Microsoft, NSF, and ONR — though more are listed here for the lab: http://www.alice.org/sponsors/default2.htm. MSR hosted Josh Yelon from the ETC at CMU (http://www.etc.cmu.edu/ — a fun group!) presented Alice at MSR’s annual Faculty Summit in Summer 2005:
    http://research.microsoft.com/workshops/FS2005/agenda_tue.aspx

    Interesting comment about the hiring manager calls. Make sure you ping hiring, Robert… However, I expect they probably fear inundating busy professors with such calls, given our relatively high rate of hiring. Professors are seldom available on the end of a phone in my experience too, and email’s inappropriate. Tricky!

  6. Alice was partly funded by Microsoft Research (MSR). The full sponsor list (from CMU’s website) is: DARPA, Intel, Microsoft, NSF, and ONR — though more are listed here for the lab: http://www.alice.org/sponsors/default2.htm. MSR hosted Josh Yelon from the ETC at CMU (http://www.etc.cmu.edu/ — a fun group!) presented Alice at MSR’s annual Faculty Summit in Summer 2005:
    http://research.microsoft.com/workshops/FS2005/agenda_tue.aspx

    Interesting comment about the hiring manager calls. Make sure you ping hiring, Robert… However, I expect they probably fear inundating busy professors with such calls, given our relatively high rate of hiring. Professors are seldom available on the end of a phone in my experience too, and email’s inappropriate. Tricky!

  7. If you can fix that to say “Robert, so nice to meet you…” I won’t be nearly so embarassed. Never watch TV and type at the same time!

  8. If you can fix that to say “Robert, so nice to meet you…” I won’t be nearly so embarassed. Never watch TV and type at the same time!

  9. As the female student from Pitt Law who went to Carnegie Mellon, the original Alice was based on Python, which was in turn based on C++ or C. I remember fooling around with it the summer of 1998 at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon.

    Mike, so nice to meet you, and glad you enjoyed your visit to Pittsburgh!

  10. As the female student from Pitt Law who went to Carnegie Mellon, the original Alice was based on Python, which was in turn based on C++ or C. I remember fooling around with it the summer of 1998 at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon.

    Mike, so nice to meet you, and glad you enjoyed your visit to Pittsburgh!

  11. Glad you enjoyed the trip. Did I tell you ever how I got a free big plush Scooby Doo from Randy’s lab (I was in the lab next door at the time, back in 2001) :)

  12. Glad you enjoyed the trip. Did I tell you ever how I got a free big plush Scooby Doo from Randy’s lab (I was in the lab next door at the time, back in 2001) :)

  13. Alice is an OLD project. It has been through several implementations and languages. I think the latest is in Java (ugh).

    Some of the older implementations are still preferred in some groups.

  14. Alice is an OLD project. It has been through several implementations and languages. I think the latest is in Java (ugh).

    Some of the older implementations are still preferred in some groups.

  15. Err, ‘hasn’t changed’ up until late last night, then ‘changed’.

    Anyways, proceed to Robots…

  16. Err, ‘hasn’t changed’ up until late last night, then ‘changed’.

    Anyways, proceed to Robots…

  17. Microsoft has it’s own “academic campus”, it’s called R&D, and plus academia can be a pile of unmarketable rot if you don’t manage it right. Microsoft is a company, with increasinly irate shareholders, not a University.

    PS – Vienna, eh? Wasn’t in the loop enough for that one. They give you permission or just slapped it out there, assuming you will get away with breaking the rules? Official word, heard via pressy contacts, says name hasn’t changed. Heh. How you get away with NDA breakers that other mere mortals would be sent to Siberia for is amazing.

  18. Microsoft has it’s own “academic campus”, it’s called R&D, and plus academia can be a pile of unmarketable rot if you don’t manage it right. Microsoft is a company, with increasinly irate shareholders, not a University.

    PS – Vienna, eh? Wasn’t in the loop enough for that one. They give you permission or just slapped it out there, assuming you will get away with breaking the rules? Official word, heard via pressy contacts, says name hasn’t changed. Heh. How you get away with NDA breakers that other mere mortals would be sent to Siberia for is amazing.

  19. > He took Microsoft to task (and really all of the industry) for not doing enough to build relationships with academics.

    Not that that can be said of the relationship with the Feds, eh Scoble.

  20. > He took Microsoft to task (and really all of the industry) for not doing enough to build relationships with academics.

    Not that that can be said of the relationship with the Feds, eh Scoble.

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