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Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was formed in 1967 by the union of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (which was "Carnegie Technical Schools" until 1912), founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research , founded in 1917 by Richard Beatty Mellon . The school is often referred to as CMU (not to be confused with Central Michigan University).

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University Seal

Motto "My heart is in the work" (Andrew Carnegie)
Established 1900
School type Private University
President Jared Cohon
Location Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Enrollment 5,200 undergraduate,
3,200 graduate
Faculty 1254
Endowment US$756 million
Campus Urban, 103 acres
Sports teams Tartans


Carnegie Mellon's 103-acre main campus is five miles from downtown Pittsburgh, in the Squirrel Hill/Oakland part of the city. A large grassy area known as the Cut forms the backbone of the campus, with a separate grassy area known as the Mall running perpendicular to it.


The institution was founded in 1900 in Pittsburgh by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who wrote the time-honored words, "My heart is in the work," when he donated the funds to create Carnegie Technical Schools. Carnegie's vision was to open a vocational training school for the sons and daughters of working-class Pittsburghers. The name was changed to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912. In 1967 it merged with the Mellon Institute to become Carnegie Mellon University.

A view down the Cut, with the Purnell Center on the left, the University Center on the right
A view down the Cut, with the Purnell Center on the left, the University Center on the right


The university today consists of seven colleges and schools:

The university has two smaller additional campuses, offering business and technology-related degrees, one in California's San Francisco Bay Area , another in Qatar's Education City.

The university houses famous research centers such as the Robotics Institute, which is the first of its kind in the world and considered a leader in the field of robotics, and the Software Engineering Institute which undertakes projects relating to software security, code re-use, and development models and is largely funded by the United States Department of Defense. The Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model is used widely.


The university has 5,200 undergraduate students, 3,200 graduate students, 1,048 full-time faculty, and 206 part-time faculty. The male-to-female ratio is 3:2. The student body is comprised of students from 48 different states and 91 countries.

Sports and clubs

Carnegie Mellon's sports teams are called the Tartans. They participate in the University Athletic Association in NCAA Division III. Carnegie Mellon's marching and concert band is the Kiltie Band.

There are many organizations on-campus:

  • Activities Board

One of the largest is the Activities Board, which organizes a number of student activities on campus. The Films Committee of the Activities Board is notable for showing films (often recent) in the on-campus McConomy Auditorium 3-4 nights a week, with 2-4 showings per night.

  • All University Orchestra

Students of all ability levels play in the All University Orchestra, performing once each semester.

  • KGB

Another notable organization on campus is the KGB (not related to the Russian KGB), which holds bizarre weekly meetings and hosts events such as the Underground Tour, Build a Giant Robot, and Capture the Flag with Stuff.

  • Robotics Club

The Robotics Club is a undergraduate student run organization that facilitates the building of robots and related projects. The members of the projects decide what to do and when to do it. If you want to build a Mobot, the resources are here. If you want to try to build a Battlebot, this is the place.

  • Student Dormitory Council

The Student Dormitory Council is a hodgepodge of different committees. They run the film in McConomy Auditorium on Saturday nights, program campus events, and act as liasons from the resident body to Housing, Dining and Student Life. The university puts the students in charge of all the dormitory recreational equipment through SDC including purchasing, installing and repairing.

Despite a widely-held belief that the school is largely apathetic, Carnegie Mellon Activism has spanned decades. There continues to be a small yet visible progressive activist presence today, as well as libertarians and groups of many different political persuations.


The Fence

In the middle of The Cut lies The Fence, the most painted object on campus. It frequently displays witty and/or poignant messages, but is just as often used to advertise upcoming events or recent accomplishments. Because of its highly-visible location on campus, it is an ideal place to proclaim one's message to as much of the student body as possible. Once made of wood, it was replaced in the early 1990s by a much more stable concrete structure after it threatened to collapse under the weight of layers upon layers of accumulated paint.

Tradition dictates that the Fence only be painted at night, and only in its entirety. A group wishing to paint the Fence may station a representative within a small area surrounding it; so long as a guard remains within the boundary, no other group may "take" the Fence. This sometimes leads to fraternities or other groups setting up a tent or campsite just inside the boundary so that they may keep control of the Fence for extended periods of time.

Delta Upsilon's "Peter Pan" booth from Spring Carnival 2004
Delta Upsilon's "Peter Pan" booth from Spring Carnival 2004

Spring Carnival

Usually held in April, Spring Carnival is the biggest event of the CMU school year. Many students work hard all year to make it a success, and the Pittsburgh community is invited to attend. Alumni often return for the festivities, and Reunion coincides with the weekend. Spring Carnival features "Midway", with all the standard carnival attractions, and a Buggy race which is run over the course of the weekend. Many organizations across campus construct both a booth for Midway and a buggy for Sweepstakes. Judges decide on winners in several different categories.

See Also: Official Carnival Site

Buggy races

Buggy, officially called Sweepstakes, is a race around Schenley Park. Entrants submit a small, usually torpedo-shaped, vehicle that is pushed uphill and then driven downhill. The driver (who must be a CMU student) sits inside the vehicle with the steering and brake controls. Brakes are used only as a last resort (to prevent a crash, for instance), but drivers who are forced to use them are allowed to roll in another heat with no penalty. The second-to-last corner of the race, a sharp 90-degree right turn, is affectionately called "The Chute" and is lined with hay bales to prevent spectator injury.

See Also: Official Buggy Site

A mobot approaches the end of the course, with Hamerschlag Hall in the background
A mobot approaches the end of the course, with Hamerschlag Hall in the background


"Mobot," a general term resulting from shortening "mobile robot", is a competition at Carnegie Mellon in which robots try (autonomously) to pass through gates, in order, and reach the finish line. There is a white line on the pavement connecting the gates, and the line is normally used to find the gates, though it is not mandated by the rules that the robots follow the line. Towards the end of the course, the lines split and merge randomly, and knowledge of which line leads to the next gate is needed to consistently finish the course. This information is provided by the judges shortly before the actual competition begins. The current undergraduate mobot course record is held by Alok Ladsariya and Anthony Rowe , whose mobot used the CMUCam for capturing images of the racetrack. Their second robot, "Barney," is the only finishing mobot on record to call into question whether each gate must be passed in the forward direction in order to count.

See Also: Official Mobot Site


For Carnival Weekend, the Morewood parking lot is turned into "Midway." Booths are constructed by campus organizations, featuring (usually) free games and cheap giveaway prizes. Some of the booths are intricate, multi-level affairs, showing off the creativity and energy of the students who construct them. Portable carnival rides are brought in and set up, along with standard carnival concession food (including funnel cake). Various musical acts, improv comedy troupes, and other performances are staged in a nearby tent, running throughout the weekend and providing a backdrop to the entire spectacle.

Fiesta de Primavera

End of the year event is the Fiesta de Primavera, held on the last day of classes. The Student Dormitory Council (SDC) gets a bunch of inflatable bounce equipment and other soft fun toys and sets it up outside (weather permitting). Equipment varies from year to year, but typically includes: bouncy volleyball, jousting, sumo outfits, slides, flypaper, big punching gloves, etc...


The sound of bagpipes is a common presence at Carnegie Mellon. The university is the only one in the United States to offer bagpiping as a major. Carnegie Mellon's Pipe Band plays at major university events, such as convocation and commencement.

"" is a campus community newsgroup for students to buy and sell items on. However, since it is widely read by those in the university it is notorious for turning into a general advertisement and discussion forum, often plagued by flame wars. It is similar in many ways to Craigslist.

Notable Carnegie Mellon students and alumni

Carnegie Mellon in fiction

In the manga Maico 2010 , the main character, an android named Maico, was created in the university.

External links

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45