Category Archives: Education

Electric Cycle Invention Gets Pitt Student Noticed by Entrepreneur Magazine

Note: Today’s the last day you can vote for Micah in the College Entrepreneur of the Year contest. Go to and support electric vehicles, innovation, and Pittsburgh!


With a dream of revolutionizing personal urban transportation, a University of Pittsburgh undergraduate is in the running to be Entrepreneur Magazine‘s “College Entrepreneur of the Year.” Micah Toll, a senior mechanical engineering major in the University of PittsburghSwanson School of Engineering, is one of five finalists in the contest. The winner will be the focus of a feature article in the magazine’s January issue.

The mission of Toll’s company, Pulse Motors, is to build completely electric two-wheeled Personal Electronic Vehicles. The vehicles resemble bicycles but do not require pedaling.

“Our vehicles are designed to be the ideal solution for millions of commuters driving in and around urban centers,” says Toll in his contest video entry on the Entrepreneur Magazine Web site. “Instead of a single person commuting in a two-ton gas-guzzler, our vehicles allow drivers to zip effortlessly along using minimal energy and no fossil fuels while producing absolutely zero tailpipe emissions.”

Computer rendering of a 2011 PEVO, officially debuted by Pulse Motors Aug. 28 at Pitt's Student Activities Fair. (Courtesy of Pulse Motors)

A panel of judges selected the five finalists from among thousands of entries across the country. The selection of the ultimate winner of the College Entrepreneur of the Year now comes down to two components: the online voting process and voting by the panel of judges. The online voting points and panel voting points will be combined for each of the five finalists, and the winner will be the student who receives the highest total.

More at News from Pitt >



Warhol in Coffee Country

Sixteen-year-old Andres, who until recently was addicted to crack and living on the streets of Medellín, Colombia, cuts an intricately decorated cross out of red construction paper with an X-ACTO knife, creating a stencil he’ll use later to silkscreen a t-shirt, an art technique made wildly popular by Andy Warhol.

“These kids have held knives, but not to make art,” says Juan Carlos Moreno Osorio, an educator from FARO Family Foundation, a rehabilitation center in Medellín that works with teens like Andres who are addicted to drugs or are in trouble with the law.

This past June, Andres and about 20 of his peers were in Jericó, a tiny rural town in the Andes about three hours from Medellín, to participate in an art workshop designed by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and delivered in partnership with Jericó’s Archeological Museum of the Southwest (MASUR). Oddly enough, this tucked-away town of 12,000—with its meticulously painted houses and amiable hospitality—has blossomed into a destination for, of all things, Warhol enthusiasts. Or perhaps more accurately described: the Warhol curious. More >

A Degree for Both Sides of the Brain

When Alyssa Reuter had to choose a college, she wanted one that offered programs in computer science and the arts. “The one school that was strong in both was Carnegie Mellon,” she says.

But how could she combine her two passions? Getting undergraduate degrees from both SCS and the College of Fine Arts—a double major—would have meant an extremely heavy workload, because the majors don’t have many overlapping courses.

As it turns out, Reuter wasn’t the only student asking to combine the disciplines into one undergraduate degree, says Franco Sciannameo, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) and Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) programs—joint efforts between CFA, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Mellon College of Science.

Students were literally “knocking on my door,” Sciannameo says. From game design and computer animation to computer music and robotic art, technology and the arts are no longer separable, he says. More >

Unraveling Language

Maxine Eskenazi knows how much can depend on the meaning of a single word. While she was living in France, her French mother-in-law sent one of her American aunts a gift of delicate chiffon fabric. But the French have a different name for the sheer material—mousseline—while “chiffon” means “rag.” Eskenazi’s mother-in-law received, therefore, a well-intentioned note thanking her for the “nice rags.”
Such incidents, along with Eskenazi’s experiences teaching English in France, instilled in her a lifelong appreciation for the intricacies of language learning. More > (PDF p. 15)

Strengthening Bamboo — and Research

Kent Harries is bouncing around in a Jeep in the remote Darjeeling region of India when suddenly his life flashes before his eyes. A large military truck is coming the other way down the one-lane road, and he knows it’s not getting out of the way. He and student Derek Mitch hang on as the Jeep driver veers out of the truck’s path, narrowly averting disaster. More > (PDF p. 7)


Si Yang Ng was thrilled with the guest lecturer in his improv class—a well-known motion picture actor. Ng willingly participated at every opportunity, which didn’t go unnoticed. “You’re from Asia, but you speak up quite openly,” the movie star said to Ng. “Can you tell me why I’m having so much trouble getting Asians to speak up in my improv classes?” More >

No Dummy . . .

Cynthia Sherry is having dinner with seven gentlemen at a Dallas restaurant. All of them are radiologists, and Sherry is about to become the first female partner of the practice. During the meal, one partner says to her, “I’ll bet you’ve never been to dinner with seven men before.” If the radiologists think Sherry is uncomfortable with the numbers, they’re wrong. More >