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Every time I open an issue of Carnegie Mellon Today, I don’t know what to expect. It’s always filled with interesting stories on people from all walks of life whose success makes me proud to be a Carnegie Mellon alumnus. Knowing that, I was still surprised by the July issue. Never did I think I would see a picture of someone called Notorious B.I.G. in the magazine. But there he was in the cover story [“Rapped Up”]. I hadn’t heard of him or his music, but after I read the story that profiled alumnus Geo Bivins, I’m now fully informed of who he was, even though I’ve still never heard one of his songs. (I went to carnegiemellontoday.com hoping there might be a link to one of his songs, but no such luck.) It was interesting to learn how Mr. Bivins has used his CMU education to help him promote rap stars such as Notorious B.I.G. That part was no surprise, another Carnegie Mellon success story. Keep up the good work, and keep surprising me.
This is clearly a rant from an alumnus, but not about football, happily enough. Carnegie Mellon Today’s July issue noted [in “Adobe Setup”] that Charles Geschke (S’73), the cofounder of Adobe, embraced the interdisciplinary work and environment at Carnegie Mellon. When I was there, presumably when Dr. Geschke was there, and when Allen Newell (TPR’57) and Herb Simon (H’90) were there, it was multidisciplinary work—not interdisciplinary work—that was supported.
Interdisciplinary work can be seen as between disciplines and not following the lessons of any discipline. This work falls between and outside of disciplines. It is hard to publish, and deservedly so because the human data are often collected in a sloppy manner and hard to replicate; and the software, for example, is poorly written and does not scale.
Multidisciplinary work can be contrasted as work that uses results and methods from two or more disciplines. This work, like Newell’s and Simon’s work, can be published (with effort, perhaps) in those disciplines it draws from because it uses the lessons from the disciplines.
CMU has been, to my understanding, a home of multidisciplinary work, particularly in the psychology and computer science departments. I think it’s worth making this distinction.
I’m on sabbatical next year, and one paper I hope to write is about this distinction, what can happen if you make it, and why policy and research work for the better by following the multidisciplinary road, which I see work at Carnegie Mellon as following, and Newell and Simon in particular.
—Frank Ritter, PhD (DC’89,’92)
Professor of Information Sciences and Technology and Psychology
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pa.
My congratulations to Judy Savitskya for receiving a Churchill Scholarship [“By Jove!” July feature story]. But it raises, to me, an interesting question. She says in the story, “There’s not a chance I could have done this without them.” The “them” she is referring to is the university’s fellowships and scholarships office. According to the story, that office didn’t just help Ms. Savitskya; it also assisted three recent winners [Courtney Ondeck (E’08) in 2008-09, Swati Varshney (CMU’10) in 2010-11, and Rebecca Krall (S’11) in 2011-12]. Even in these times of helicopter parenting and counseling, I’ll assume that these four winners (curiously, all women) pursued the scholarship opportunity because of their passion in their fields of study and weren’t pushed to apply so CMU could ensure scholarship representation.
Lt. Col. Chris "Otis" Raible (E’95), 40, a U.S. Marine Corps commanding officer, was killed in action on September 14 during an insurgent attack on his base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was one of two Marines killed in the attack. Raible joined the Marines after graduating from CMU and earned his Naval Aviator designation in 1998. He was awarded the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the summer of 2011 and was the recipient of many military honors. The squadron he commanded is the only Marine Harrier squadron in Afghanistan. He leaves behind his wife, Donella Raible, who lives in Yuma, Ariz., with their three children ages, 11, 9, and 2. The Carnegie Mellon community’s thoughts and prayers are with the Raible family. Learn more: Civil & Environmental Engineering News