Campus News in Brief

The Comet and the Tornado

A book authored by Carnegie Mellon professor Don Marinelli featuring the late Randy Pausch has been released. Called The Comet and the Tornado, it is an account of the author’s time working with Pausch, the inspiring Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and co-author of The Last Lecture. Marinelli, the current executive producer of the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), writes of his personal experiences during his time as an assistant head of the drama department at Carnegie Mellon and after he helped to co-found the ETC with Pausch. The book’s events focus on the time that he and Pausch worked together in the ETC.

The roots of the book’s title stem from a nickname — a “tornado” — Pausch called Marinelli during the Last Lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon, and Marinelli decided that “the comet” was an appropriate description for Paush’s life and work.

A unique feature of the book is that each copy comes with a synthetic interview, created by the ETC and the computer science department, where the reader is able to hold a conversation with a person “as if they were available in real time.”

The Carnegie Mellon bookstore is presenting a reading and book signing session with Marinelli on April 16, from noon to 2 p.m. in the University Center.

Amy Burkert to succeed Nair

On August 1, Amy Burkert will transition from her current positions in the Mellon College of Sciences to the vice provost for education.

Burkert’s work at Carnegie Mellon has been significant, including accomplishments in the biological science field and in helping to create interdisciplinary programs such as the Science and Humanities Scholars program and the Bachelor of Science and Arts. She has also had a role in creating the major in biological sciences and psychology, a biomedical engineering minor for non-engineering students, and a minor in health care policy and management. Burkert currently serves as assistant dean for the Health Professions Program and Educational Initiatives and as a professor in the department of biological sciences.

Other initiatives have included working with others to create the first-year course “Eureka,” which combines knowledge and skills in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematical sciences. She was a key participant in developing the course “Biotechnology Impacting Our Selves, Societies, and Spheres.”
Burkert will be succeeding Indira Nair, a professor in engineering and public policy, who is retiring after having worked at Carnegie Mellon for the past 32 years.