News In Brief

Braille-teaching technology wins prize

A device developed within the Robotics Institute won $20,000 as the winner of the 2014 Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation.

The device teaches students how to write Braille with a slate and stylus, according to a university press release. It was developed by research group TechBridgeWorld. Students began working on the device, called the Braille Writing Tutor, in 2006. It has been tested in such countries as Bangladesh, India, and Tanzania.

The device has the potential to service areas of the world where Braille typewriters are not easily accessible.

The hardware specifications and software can be downloaded online for others wishing to build similar devices, according to the release.

Members of TechBridgeWorld also developed a version of the device that relies on batteries for areas that do not have access to reliable power sources.

“The Braille Writing Tutor has been one of our most successful projects to date,” said M. Bernardine Dias, director and founder of TechBridgeWorld, in the release. “We’ve seen the profound impact it has on blind and visually impaired students and their teachers in communities where we have been fortunate to test the tutor.”

Dias is also an associate research professor of robotics.

TechBridgeWorld’s mission includes implementing technology to meet development needs across the globe. The group aims to leverage relationships with others in developing areas to understand technology’s global influence. The group lists two main principles on its website: “sharing expertise to create innovative and locally suitable solutions, and empowerment of indigenous populations to create sustainable solutions.”

Former post-doc visits British Parliament to present research

Euan Wielewski is a former post-doctoral research associate at Carnegie Mellon. He worked with professor of physics Robert Suter and professor of materials science and engineering Marc De Graef on research regarding X-ray and electron diffraction, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Now he is a faculty member at the University of Glasgow and one of 210 researchers who presented to the British Parliament for a poster competition hosted by SET for Britain. SET for Britain aims to promote the country’s “early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians,” according to its website.

“This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives [members of Parliament] an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers,” said Andrew Miller, chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in a university press release.

Wielewski presented research from his time at Carnegie Mellon, as well as from his time at Cornell University. Wielewski’s research focused on determining the reliability of certain materials used to make jet engine parts.

“Presenting our research at the House of Parliament was a real honor and a great experience,” said Wielewski in the release. “It’s rare that early career researchers get the opportunity to talk to politicians about their work.”