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Clark School Students’ Human-Powered Helicopter Achieves Record-Breaking Flight

January 24, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Gamera human-powered helicopter team, comprised of students from the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, has officially had its Aug. 28, 2012, flight certified as a world record of 65.1 seconds by The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), also known as The World Air Sports Federation.

Pilot Colin Gore, a materials science and engineering graduate student at the Clark School, was in the cockpit for the flight. The flight was accomplished in a revamped Gamera II vehicle.

With its flight in August, the Gamera team had also unofficially satisfied two of the three American Helicopter Society Sikorsky Prize competition requirements with its 65.1-second flight, staying within a 10 square meter area and hovering at two feet of altitude.

To win the Sikorsky Prize, the team must also achieve a height of three meters during a flight of at least 60 seconds that stays within the prescribed 10 square meter area. The Gamera team will continue its work toward meeting the competition requirements by increasing the altitude of its flight.

Watch the team’s record-breaking flight:


Quick Quote: Public Policy Dean Don Kettl on Debt Limit Extension

January 23, 2013

Jennifer Lynn Talhelm 301-405-4390

Don Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland:

Don Kettl"This reschedules as least one of the pending budget crises, but it also forces action on the budget, for the first time in years. The process doesn't guarantee results, but no results are possible without a process that gets a budget passed. Members of Congress won't  want to face the prospect of losing their pay, and that creates extra incentives for nudging the budget process along.

"The Republican House has passed this to turn up the heat on Democrats in the Senate, daring them not only to complete the budget process on time but also to identify—first—specific cuts to meet aggressive budget targets. It's a master stroke to put the Republicans out front on the issue of highest public visibility, and leaves to Democrats the dirty work of identifying just what programs they'd agree to cut.  In less than a month, the House Republicans have moved from a very clumsy fumble of the sequestration debate to an extremely clever effort to regain the high ground. The strategy resets the calendar, in part, and heightens the focus on which programs will survive—and which will suffer cuts."

UMD Research Team Developing Powerful Data Visualization Tool with Support from Oracle

January 23, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab has garnered the support of the Oracle Health Sciences Institute for its research that is helping medical professionals analyze millions of patient records by developing a powerful data visualization tool called EventFlow.

Watch UMD's Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science, Catherine Plaisant, senior research scientist, and Jennifer Golbeck, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab, discuss their research and the development of EventFlow:

"Invisible" Filipino History in Annapolis Documented by UMD Researchers

January 22, 2013

Kathrina Aben 301-651-8430

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

GalaCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Filipinos have been an invisible minority in Annapolis for more than a century. Now, researchers at the University of Maryland are using oral histories as a way to flesh out their life and times – documenting the incredible challenges they faced – and successes they celebrated.

After the Spanish-American War, the Philippines became a U.S. territory. Filipinos were brought to Annapolis – home of the Naval Academy – to serve as desk interns, fire fighters, construction laborers, messmen and stewards. In many cases, the Naval Academy replaced African Americans with Filipinos leading to increased racial tensions.

For three years, University of Maryland Archeologist Mark Leone’s Archaeology in Annapolis Summer Field School has worked to uncover what has been described as a surprisingly complex relationship between the ethnic communities – that was at times marked by violence but also intermarriage and social inter mixing.

And while the archeological digs have produced some amazing discoveries (see Forgotten Annapolis Immigration Conflict Uncovered by the UMD Archeology Project), the Filipino community itself has come to feel that their story in Annapolis has not been told. As one former steward says, “No one ever asks Filipinos about their history or knows of it.”

But this past summer, the Maryland Archeology in Annapolis project took a giant step towards giving this underrepresented community a voice. UMD graduate student Kathrina Aben interviewed ten individuals – early pioneers, descendants, and new immigrants. By trying to understand Filipino – American history, archeologists hope to put history to paper for the first time and find new locations in Annapolis to explore.
Aben – who is studying archaeology - says that the oral histories help “reveal the structural racism Filipinos faced and details the methods they came to use to combat both social and legal discrimination.” She says further alienation resulted from racial tension with the white and black communities over job competition and fears of miscegenation.
“There was a lot of things that happened that I don’t like,” says former steward Leo Toribio. “At that time, discrimination was tight.”
Restaurant on Cornhill StreetOver the years, the Filipino community created their own haven in Annapolis. They lived inside and outside of the city.  Filipinos occupied locations such as Hell Point, Eastport, and Truxon Heights.  Yet they still struggled with acceptance by city residents.  Filipino-run restaurants – like one on Cornhill Street (right–blank red wall with door) – had no name and advertised by word of mouth. Customers would order “Hawaiian” food despite their unmistakable Filipino roots.
There was a social organization – the Filipino-American Friendly Association created in the 1920s whose clubhouse on 4 Dock Street is especially interesting to Professor Leone. “It’s a culturally significant site,” he says, “that has great potential for archeological research.”
Aben is hoping that additional sites, like the Association clubhouse, will become part of the Archeology in Annapolis Summer Field School program.
“Filipinos are bound together even today by their shared struggles of immigration, segregation and integration,” Aben says. “This research remains relevant and important to the Filipinos still living in Annapolis and the overall Filipino diaspora in the U.S.
If you are interested in helping Professor Leone and his team find additional sites for his Archeology in Annapolis summer program, please contact him directly by email at mleone@umd.edu or by calling 301-405-1429.
Questions surrounding the Filipino diaspora and history should be directed to Kathrina Aben via email at kaben@umd.edu.


Quick Quote: Men's Baseball Head Coach John Szefc on Earl Weaver

January 20, 2013

Matt Bertram 301-314-8093

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

John Szefc, head coach, men's baseball, University of Maryland:

John Szefc“Earl Weaver is an absolute Hall of Fame manager. There are only 19 managers in the Hall of Fame, and he is one of them. That says a lot.

“I grew up in New York and was lucky enough to attend many games at Yankee Stadium, many against Weaver’s Orioles. Those were always great games and Billy Martin and Weaver could really put on a show.

“He was just a hard-nosed baseball manager and I am sure a lot of managers emulate him today.”

Mighty Sound of Maryland Chosen to Perform in 2013 Inaugural Parade

January 18, 2013

Missy McTamney 301-775-4254 

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland will play a part in the 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama -- with the Mighty Sound of Maryland being chosen to perform in the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade. UMD’s marching band was chosen from thousands of applications to participate in the January 21st event through an extensive application process, which included submitting audio and video recordings of the band. During the parade, the band will perform the “Washington Post March,” as well as the “Maryland Victory Song,” and will unveil new uniforms, which were purchased in part with the $25,000 first-place prize the band won in CBS television’s 2010 "Hawaii Five-O Marching Band Mania" competition.  

While this will be a first for all 255 band members and Band Director Richmond Sparks, the Mighty Sound of Maryland has been selected to perform at four other presidential inaugurations: 

  • Ronald Reagan's second term in 1985, which was canceled due to weather
  • President John F. Kennedy in 1960
  • President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 
  • President Woodrow Wilson’s second term in 1917


Watch the CBS Baltimore report on the Mighty Sound of Maryland:


This story originally appeared on January 9, 2013.


UMD Expert Recognized in Movement to Improve Capital Markets

January 17, 2013

Greg  Muraski 301-405-5283

Russ WermersCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Russ Wermers, associate professor of finance in the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, has garnered international recognition for his recent work toward restoring integrity to capital markets.

Recently tapped to help rewrite the global accreditation criteria for evaluating investment performance, Wermers earned first place in the Investment Management Consultants Association’s 2012 Journal of Investment Consulting Academic Paper Competition for his research yielding a formula to minimize risk and maximize return on investments. The findings, in Monitoring Daily Hedge Fund Performance When Only Monthly Data is Available, address the time lag that has plagued investors seeking to monitor their hedge funds on a daily basis.

Based on using monthly, low-frequency models to forecast daily, high-frequency hedge fund returns, Wermers' solution is “a useful process for accurately forecasting daily returns of hedge funds, which helps advisors and investors to better weigh the risk and value within their portfolios,” according to the Investment Management Consultants Association.

Forthcoming in the journal, Wermers' study follows "Performance Evaluation and Attribution of Investment Managers," his textbook detailing the latest, most optimal methods for judging both active and passive managers of mutual fund and hedge funds. Published in 2012, the work prompted the 70,000-member Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute to recruit Wermers to help devise the curriculum for a new Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement – the industry’s international accreditation for investment performance analysis.

Vojislav (Max) Maksimovic, the Dean's Chair Professor of Finance and chair of Smith’s finance department, says the recent developments affirm Wermers – who earned a university-wide teaching award in 2005 – "as both a research leader in the field of global investment management and invaluable resource to Smith finance students for cutting-edge insight to capital markets."

The Future of Information Alliance Looks at Crowdsourcing

January 16, 2013

David Ottalini 301-405-4076

FIA Event Logo

The Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland holds a special afternoon event called "Crowdsourcing for Creativity & Human Potential." The program is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.
Monday, February 4, 2013, 2:00 PM- 4:00 PM
Orem Hall, Samuel R. Riggs Alumni Center, University of Maryland

Crowdsourcing has become a critical component of today’s emerging information technologies and practices. Innovators are using it to respond to natural disasters, call attention to human rights abuses, and harness the combined potential of people all over the world in both creative and scholarly ways. But are there also barriers that keep crowdsourcing from being as effective as it might be? What kinds of research might be done to overcome those barriers and lead to even more effective action?

The Future of Information Alliance, (FIA) based at the University of Maryland, presents a program on February 4 that will explore both the opportunities and challenges associated with crowdsourcing. The FIA was created to serve as a catalyst for dialogue across disciplines and to promote research on issues related to the evolving role of information in our lives. The program will feature three new FIA “Visiting Future-ists”:

  • Craig Newmark - craigslist and craigsconnects founder.Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist, launched craigconnects in 2011 as a platform for extending the reach of technology and social networking for philanthropy, public service and the public good. He is a technology advisor to more than a dozen non-profits and government agencies and serves on the boards of directors of the Center for Public Integrity, the Sunlight Foundation, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

  • Dr. Jennifer Chan - Global Emergency Medicine DirectorJennifer Chan, MD, MPH, is director of Global Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and associate faculty and member of the Crisis Dynamics Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. In addition to being a practitioner of emergency medicine who has been involved in disaster relief efforts in Haiti and elsewhere, she is involved in using, evaluating and improving crowdsourced crisis mapping tools such as Ushahidi.

  • Sam Gregory, is Program Director and leads the Cameras Everywhere initiative at WITNESSSam Gregory, a non-profit co-founded by musician Peter Gabriel to use video and participatory technologies to expose human rights abuses. He helped launch the YouTube Human Rights Channel and the ObscuraCam and InformaCam tools. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, was a Rockfeller Foundation Bellagio Resident on the future of video-based advocacy, and was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2012.

Dan Russell is Google's "director of user happiness."In addition, Dan Russell, Google's "director of user happiness" who has been involved with the FIA since its inception, is this year’s FIA “Future-ist in Residence” and will take part in the program on Feb. 4. He and UMD Computer Science Professor Ben Bederson, an expert in human-computer interaction and mobile technology, will demonstrate uses of tools for crowdsourcing.

American Studies Professor Sheri ParksThe panel will be moderated by Sheri Parks, Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming in UMD’s College of Arts and Humanities and Associate Professor of American Studies. Dr. Parks is also a cultural critic for WYPR, the NPR radio station in Baltimore.

This program was made possible with generous support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation,and the University of Maryland.

The Future of Information Alliance was created to serve as a catalyst for dialogue across disciplines and to promote research on issues related to the evolving role of information in our lives. By identifying shared challenges and encouraging innovative solutions, the Future of Information Alliance seeks to facilitate a future in which information in all its forms can be an effective resource for all.

The Future of Information Alliance is co-directed by Professor Allison Druin of Maryland's iSchool and by Ira Chinoy, Associate Dean and Associate Professor in Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The FIA operates under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Research and is supported by the deans of all colleges and schools across campus, a broad-based campus advisory board, and 10 Founding Partners.

The Future of Information Alliance will stream this event to its FIA/YouTube Channel
Members of the press are welcome to attend and cover the event. Interviews with presenters can be arranged. PLEASE REGISTER on the FIA Website.
For more information, email: fia@cs.umd.edu

President Loh's Statement of Support for Governor O'Malley's Budget

January 16, 2013

Brian Ullmann 301-314-6650

Wallace LohCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Once again, Governor O’Malley has solidified his reputation as the Education Governor.  His budget for the coming year provides support for expanded collaborations with University of Maryland, Baltimore, critical funding to expand STEM programs, and additional financial support for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization initiatives.  These investments in higher education will make Maryland more competitive economically both nationally and internationally.

Film Producer's "Pi" in the Sky Dreams Become Reality

January 14, 2013

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Lee Berger '76 is president of the film division of Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles.

By Monette Bailey and Lauren Brown

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - You may not know Lee Berger by name, but you may have seen the work of his production teams in many of 2012’s biggest movies: “Django Unchained,” “The Hunger Games,” “Life of Pi” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Berger ’76 is president of the film division of Rhythm & Hues Studios, a Los Angeles-based company that does everything from animating the Chipmunks to creating fantastic worlds (“The Chronicles of Narnia”).

“This is a very competitive industry,” says Berger. “We don’t normally get to pick and choose, and we’re lucky that Ang Lee chose us (for ‘Life of Pi’).”

“Life of Pi” snagged 11 Academy Award nominations last week, including Best Picture, with “Django” receiving five and “Snow White” getting two. Winners will be announced Feb. 24.

Berger’s main role at Rhythm & Hues, where he’s been since 1999, is to nurture working relationships with movie studios. He’s also the chief executive officer of East Grand Films, an investment fund created by the studio to help finance and produce Hollywood feature films for the global market.

His career clearly pulls from his days as a Maryland radio, television and film student and includes stints as a cameraman, grip, film supervisor and director.

“I took at least 10 courses with Robert Kolker. He had a really big influence on me,” he says. “I still have a relationship with him 40 years later. It’s really about who your teachers are.”

Such a varied career prepared him for working with the creators of such disparate movies as those nominated. “Although ‘Django Unchained’ is not considered a visual effects movie, we wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino, so we were excited by the opportunity to contribute to the movie and build that relationship at the same time.”

Berger’s expertise is in digital filmmaking, so it makes sense that his favorite shot in “Pi,” whose Oscar nominations include Best Visual Effects, reflects that background.

Pi tosses O.J. the orangutan a life jacket in one of the many special effects that meld real and computer-generated images. The animal, for all of its lifelike detail and movements, is just pixels and code. The jacket was real until it got to O.J.’s hands.

“Then we took it over,” says Berger. “Our job is to make sure that the work is so seamless that it doesn’t take you out of the movie.”

Life of Pi the Movie


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