TITLE: A Stroll Through the Gates CS Building
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: October 04, 2017 3:56 PM
I had a couple of hours yesterday between the end of
the CS education summit
and my shuttle to the airport. Rather than sit in front of a
computer for two more hours, I decided to take advantage of my
location, wander over to the Carnegie Mellon campus, and take a
leisurely walk through the Gates Center for Computer Science.
I'm glad I did.
At the beginning of my tour, I was literally walking in circles,
from the ground-level entrance shown in
its Wikipedia photo
up to where the CS offices seem to begin, up on the fourth floor.
This is one of those buildings that looks odd from the outside
and is quite confusing on the inside, at least to the uninitiated.
But everyone inside seemed to feel at home, so maybe it works.
It didn't take long before my mind was flooded by memories of my
time as a doctoral student. Michigan State's CS program isn't as
big as CMU's, but everywhere I looked I saw familiar images:
Students sitting in their labs or in their offices, one or two or
six at a time, hacking code on big monitors, talking shop, or
relaxing. The modern world was on display, too, with students
lounging comfy chairs or sitting in a little coffee shop, laptops
open and earbuds in place. That was never my experience as a
student, but I know it now as a faculty member.
I love to wander academic halls, in any department, really, and
read what is posted on office doors and hallway walls. At CMU, I
encountered the names of several people whose work I know and
admire. They came from many generations... David Touretzky,
taught me a few things about programming.
whose work on programming languages I find cool. (I wish I were
going to SPLASH later this month...) Finally, I stumbled across
the office of
the 1995 Turing Award winner. There were a couple of posters
outside his door showing the work of his students on problems of
cryptography and privacy, and on the door itself were several
comic strips. The punchline of one read, "I'll retire when it
stops being fun." On this, even I am in sync with a Turing
Everywhere I turned, something caught my eye. A pointer to the
Newell/Simon bridge... Newell-and-Simon, the team, were the
like the Pied Piper to me when I began my study of AI. A 40- or
50-page printout showing two old researchers (Newell and Simon?)
playing chess. Plaques in recognition of big donations that
had paid for classrooms, labs, and auditoria, made by Famous
People who were either students or faculty in the school.
CMU is quite different from my school, of course, but there are
many other schools that give off a similar vibe. I can see why
people want to be at an R-1, even if they aspire to be teachers
more than research faculty. There is so much going on. People,
labs, sub-disciplines, and interdisciplinary projects. Informal
talks, department seminars, and outside speakers. Always
something going on. Ideas. Energy.
On the ride to the airport later in the day, I sat in some slow,
heavy traffic going one direction and saw slower, heavier traffic
going in the other. As much as I enjoyed the visit, I was glad
to be heading home.
sneaking up on the Gates-Hillman Complex |
from Forbes St., Pittsburgh, PA