Friday, September 25, 2009
--part three of a three part series
editor's note--As a writer, you learn early on that the better, more interesting your subject matter, the easier it is to write your story. From that perspective, I have been in "writer's heaven" over the past three days.
On Wednesday I reported on a press conference I attended featuring Pitt's Chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, CMU President,Jared Cohon and UPMC's Chairman, Jeffrey Romoff. It was narrated by "CNBC's" Howard Fineman, no less.
Wow, wow and wow. Those were some heavy hitters.
Yesterday, in part two of this G-20 Summit Journalists' story, I reported my findings on the incredible CMU Robotics Institute. Talk about having material!
But today's story will not take a back seat to the first two parts of this series at all (lucky you). So let's proceed now to the CMU Entertainment Technology Center (ETC for short) but there's nothing "etcetera" about it!
When I first boarded the shuttle bus for my second and final tour of the day on Monday, I actually knew very little about what I was going to experience. I knew where I was going (the new development on the former J&L site) but I had very little knowledge about what was actually going on there. All that I knew was that it was called the "Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center". Sounded like fun.
Upon arriving on the campus along the river (that I had driven past at least a hundred times before) our group was met by MK Haley, a thirty something "Associate Executuve Producer" as her card read. She wore an outfit somehow reminiscent of something the Beatles wore during their "Sgt. Pepper" period, but hey it's college, right?
ABOVE: This interactive entrance sign takes your picture and places it on the board. In the center it shows your picture on a live feed. So if you look closely in the middle you can see me taking a picture of the sign while the sign is taking a picture of me. Weird!
ABOVE: First and foremost this is "Steeler Country" after all. Let's make that perfectly clear.
ABOVE: Someone please tell me what movie this robot appeared in...it's driving me crazy. Was it an evil robot in "Lost In Space"?
In the lobby was an interactive animated robot named "Quasi" that actually worked with a hidden person in the next room acting as the voice (the voice was distorted to sound more artificial). In the same area was a full size robot that was similar in stature to the one from "Lost In Space". It struck me as being sinister. I guess robots, like people, come in good, evil, etc. (See "Terminator I, II, III")
ABOVE: "Quasi" was a real show-stopper, dressed in proper Steeler attire. I didn't catch what number he was wearing.
ABOVE: International journalists Wang Shanshan (left) and Han Shu (right) of China Radio International interact with "Quasi". Shanshan is the Washington Bureau Chief, Shu a reporter.
Our first stop was to see a classroom in action in the "Randy Pausch Interdisciplinary Studio," so named for the now-deceased CMU professor of international fame. On this day the students were trying out their extemperaneous acting skills and having quite a rousing good time of it. Ah college...best days of your life!
Boot camp is a crazy-intense period where students, working in teams, have two weeks to design a computer game world. "Their only restrictions are no shooting and no pornography." The students are so inundated during boot camp that they literally live in their workshop areas. They spend twelve hour days and work seven days per week. They eat, drink and sleep computer game designing. This is how computer geeks are formed.