CMU Resource Roundup: research, COVID tests, and e-scooters

Highway to Undergraduate Research in the Academic Year (HURAY)

The Carnegie Mellon Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development has started a new undergraduate research program, the “first-ever paid academic year undergraduate research and creative inquiry program” this school has seen. The program started last spring, and continues to offer students the chance to engage in research for pay.

How does it work? Students who qualify for federal work-study and have minimal research experience can inquire about faculty projects within the program on a first-come first-serve basis. After faculty make their selections, students are officially hired and can receive funding for up to one academic year. Funding is currently set at $12 per hour, with limits at maximum 135 hours per semester and only one student per faculty member able to receive HURAY funding each semester.

Participation in this program is initiated on the university side, not through student applications. To determine eligibility, check the HURAY website, look for the federal work-study section on your financial aid letter, and be on the lookout for an email from Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development staff to eligible students inviting them to apply.

For more information on the timeline and for answers to frequently asked questions, check the OURSD website.

COVID test vending machines

In case you haven’t noticed, the days of free COVID tests at Carnegie Mellon vending machines are no more.

Carnegie Mellon formerly had vending machines that dispensed at home COVID tests and KN95 masks at four locations throughout campus: Mellon Institute’s third floor mailroom, the Cohon University Center’s Lee Lobby, in the 140 corridor of Baker Hall, and near room 103 in Purnell Center for the Arts. Such vending machines would dispense one package of two tests and one package of two masks every week upon swiping a CMU ID.

Starting in Fall 2023, these vending machines are no longer at their former locations. Currently, UHS recommends purchasing rapid antigen tests at local pharmacies, or requesting them for free through HealthConnect. For PCR tests, UHS offers tests that are free for students on Carnegie Mellon insurance, and that students on outside insurance plans can submit claims to their insurance for reimbursement. Other places like UPMC and MedExpress would also charge PCR tests to insurance.

Overall university COVID posturing has also seen some changes. Carnegie Mellon no longer has any strong COVID protocols — facial coverings are now fully optional, Tartan Testing operations and the lab have been decommissioned and testing is now optional, there is no more COVID case reporting. The COVID-19 vaccine is no longer required, but is strongly recommended.

As the Federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 comes to a close and the World Health Organization announces that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, it appears that Carnegie Mellon is following suit.

Spin Scooters are no more

While not specific to Carnegie Mellon, the removal of Spin Scooters from Pittsburgh is an issue that impacts many Carnegie Mellon students.

After months of consideration, the Pittsburgh pilot program for Spin Scooters has officially come to an end. This pilot allowed Spin to place electric scooters throughout Pittsburgh despite the state-wide ban on the vehicles.

However, upon the end of this pilot, the program would only continue if the state legislature authorized rental scooters in cities across the state. While the bill made it past the State Transportation Committee, it was “tabled on June 28 without the PA State Senate acting on it.” The legislation can still be brought up in September when the Senate is back in session, leading to Spin asking it’s riders to write to their state senators asking them to pass a bill allowing scooters in the state, emphasizing constituent advocacy.

But for now, the Spin pilot program is no more and you won’t be finding them on Pittsburgh streets for the time being.