Campus News In Brief

NSF awards grant to professor

Carnegie Mellon professor Jacobo Bielak was awarded $1.6 million by the National Science Foundation PetaApps program to help reduce seismic risks by developing earthquake computer simulations.

For over 10 years, Bielak, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, in conjunction with David O’Hallaron, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has led a team of researchers from several campuses of the University of California in developing important computer models of earthquake behavior that push the limits of existing technology.

His research will provide much needed details as to how urban environments behave in large earthquakes and reveal what is necessary to improve disaster.

Creating such models should simulate how important infrastructures of an urban city such as buildings and bridges will be impacted and provide key information as to how to build them.
In collaboration with researchers at the Southern California Earthquake Center, Bielak and O’Hallaron have produced realistic 3-Dmodels of basin geology as well as the sources and ground motion of earthquakes.

This team, using special algorithms and simulation structures, and with continued collaboration, hopes to further improve their projection of earthquakes and with it public safety.

This ongoing research project is meant to create an accurate picture of earthquakes and use this information to build infrastructures in a way that will least likely result in catastrophe.

Boss takes charge in Las Vegas

Carnegie Mellon’s Tartan Racing Team continues to make headlines. Last November, Boss, the team’s sport utility vehicle, won the DARPA Urban Challenge. The award came with a $2 million prize and national and international media attention.

Last week, Boss arrived in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, where thousands of people and members of the press came to see the unveiling of the latest technological advancements.

Boss stood out amid the latest thin-panel TV screens, video notepads, smart car designs, and other high-technology products.

Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, gave a speech at the show, sharing his company’s plans to invest millions to develop a car inspired by Boss. General Motors’ ideal car will prevent accidents by braking and accelerating on its own.

In anticipation of the conference, Boss appeared in television and in print. On NBC’s The Today Show, the world saw Al Roker climb into the vehicle in which he was robotically chauffeured around a parking lot.

The vehicle went on to appear on CBS Evening News and The Early Show, where correspondent Daniel Sieberg took a spin similar to Roker’s.

Boss was also covered recently in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in discussion of Wagoner’s upcoming speech and General Motors’ plans.

Students can learn more about Boss and Tartan Racing’s plans for the future at