Campus news in brief

Carnegie Mellon professor Carol Frieze wins 2017 A. Nico Habermann Award

Carol Frieze was selected to receive the 2017 A. Nico Habermann Award from the Computing Research Association (CRA) as recognition for her successful efforts to increase the achievements of under-represented groups in computer science.

Frieze directs two campus initiatives which aim to promote diversity in the field of computer science: Women@SCS, which promotes opportunities for women among students and faculty, and SCS4ALL, which lets students take the lead in working to expand the participation of minorities at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science (SCS).

SCS consistently enrolls a number of women far above the national average, thanks in part to Frieze's work. Just last fall, the number of women in SCS's freshman class — which amounted to almost half the class — set a school record.

"Carol's nomination letters attest that she played an important role in creating an inclusive environment at Carnegie Mellon, and her research can help others learn best practices and insights to help spread this type of progress beyond her home institution to the entire community," the CRA said, quoted in a university press release.

In addition to the programs she directs, Frieze organizes "roadshows" to introduce students in grades K-12 to computer science, summer workshops where high school teachers can learn more about the field, and workshops to encourage undergraduate women to consider computer science careers.

Frieze also received the Mark Gelfand Award for Educational Outreach, also for her work promoting women and minorities, in 2015. In 2016 she received the AccessComputing Capacity Building Award, along with Human-Computer Interaction Institute associate professor Jeff Bingham, for her work advancing students with disabilities in computing.

Creative Chaos builds on Entertainment Technology Center’s focus on innovation

Creative Chaos, a new book from Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), focuses on teaching interdisciplinary groups to collaborate creatively and effectively.

The ETC, founded jointly by the School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts, has a wide range of students with backgrounds in everything from computer science and engineering to graphics or visual effects, and even theater, creative writing, business, and music. In the program, students work in interdisciplinary teams to complete semester-long game development projects, robotics projects, animation pieces, location-based installations and more.

Creative Chaos came out of a study performed by Laurie Weingart, senior associate dean in the Tepper School of Business, and two doctoral students focusing on how these interdisciplinary teams affect innovative work. The study found that "teams with more expertise diversity had more conflict about the tasks in the form of disagreements and debates," but that final products that arose from such teams were "more innovative, useful, usable and desirable," a university press release reported.

Weingart believes that the ETC offers an environment where these kinds of teams can succeed. The book is intended to help other groups and organizations create a similar culture themselves.

Thanks to the training the program offers, ETC alumni have found careers in many companies throughout the entertainment industry, including Schell Games, a Pittsburgh game design and development company founded by Carnegie Mellon alumnus Jesse Schell and Naughty Dog, a video game developer. An increased understanding of how to work with others and build on their strengths makes these students sought after by many such companies.