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In This Section:

Volume 6, Issue 20
May 19, 2004

In this issue:

Alumni association presents awards

On April 16, 2004 the Cornell Society of Engineers presented the following individuals or groups with awards.

The Student Organization Awards were presented to the Cornell Science & Technology Magazine (SciTech) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. This award is given to engineering student organizations that have provided outstanding service to the college or community, innovative programming, and/or increased student participation.

The Team Projects Award was presented to the Solar Decathlon team. This award is given to an undergraduate engineering team for its extraordinary achievement and leadership.

The Individual Undergraduate Research Award for excellence in a research project was presented to Alok Suryavamsee Tayi '06 MSE for his research on Optimization of Nanocrystalline Photovaltaics.

The Academic Achievement Award was presented to Asst. Prof. Kit-Yee Daisy Fan, CS. This award recognizes individuals who enhance undergraduate education, outside of the classroom, who are not tenure-track faculty members.

The Tau Beta Pi Award was presented to Asst. Prof. Chunhui Chris Xu, AEP. This award is given to a professor nominated by engineering students in recognition of their exemplary teaching. The Tau Beta Pi oversees the selection process.

Duffield Hall construction update

Phase II of the Duffield Hall Project is in full swing and the project team expects substantial completion in early August. The atrium structural steel (including the catwalks for accessing interior lighting), roofing systems, and the concrete bridges that connect Phillips, Upson, and Duffield are now in place. The HRM corridor for transporting chemicals to the building is also complete. A scaffold system has been installed throughout the atrium to allow workers to move about freely in the area while completing their work. CNF, NBTC, and CCMR research facilities have moved into first floor space and are operating, and CNF and NBTC staff have moved into their offices on the second floor.

The Duffield Hall Project Team is pleased to announce another milestone: the perimeter fence is scheduled to be removed on Thursday, May 27, unveiling the completed quad. In the meantime, Cayuga Landscape will continue working on plantings and lawns. The grass needs some time to grow, so the lawn areas will be roped off for several weeks, although most sidewalks will be open for pedestrian traffic on May 27. Work continues on the flying bridge, however, which is not scheduled to be open for use until reunion weekend (June 10-13).

ORIE group studies final exam scheduling

Final exam week is a very stressful time for most Cornell students. Several years ago the Student Assembly asked the faculty to look into what might be done to reduce that stress. The Dean of the Faculty, Robert Cooke, recognized that better scheduling of exams might be achievable through OR methods, and included two ORIE faculty, Bob Bland and David Shmoys, on a task force formed last year to study scheduling of courses and exams at Cornell.

Bland, Shmoys and OR Ph.D. student Dmitriy Levchenkov are now using integer programming and discrete optimization methods on this problem. Their preliminary results are greatly encouraging. The experience of having two 2.5 hour examinations with only a 30-minute break in between is extremely difficult on students. During a recent presentation by Bland and Shmoys, a member of the Student Assembly said even thinking about that possibility is upsetting. In the spring 2003 term such back-to-back exams happened more than 3,000 times -- not including another 257 occurrences of a student having three exams on the same day, with only two 30-minute breaks during the 8.5 hour examination marathon. (And those 30-minute "breaks" are not so much breaks as they are sprints from one exam room to another.) Using student enrollment data, the OR methods produce schedules in which the number of occurrences of back-to-back exams and 3 exams in one day are both reduced by more than 80%. The next steps involve incorporating additional objectives, and testing whether forecasts based only on pre-enrollment data still yield good results. Bland, Shmoys and Levchenkov hope to be able to implement a new final exam scheduling methodology at Cornell for the spring 2005 term.

As is often the case with OR studies, getting good data has been a major challenge. Unlike many OR studies, getting the stakeholders to buy in has not been difficult. The Student Assembly, the Educational Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate and both Dean Cooke and his successor, Charles Walcott, have all been vocal in their support of this effort.

--Prof. Sidney Resnick, Director, ORIE

ORGSPE web posts funding opportunities

The Office of Research, Graduate Studies and Professional Education has added a new page of funding and research opportunities to their web site:

Although this site is live, ORGSPE welcomes suggestions to make it more useful. E- mail

Convocation and Commencement ushers needed

The Class of 2004 will present The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, as this year's Convocation Speaker. Convocation will take place on Saturday, May 29, in Schoellkopf Stadium at 9 a.m. The event is open and no tickets are required for entrance. Seating is available from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Members of the Cornell community are encouraged to consider volunteering to usher for this historic event. Ushers will need to be available from 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 29 (breakfast will be provided). In addition, there will be a training and briefing session on May 27 at 2 p.m. in the Statler Auditorium. Volunteers will receive additional information when their applications are received.

Ushers are also still needed for Commencement on Sunday, May 30. If you haven't signed up yet, there is still time to do so.

Information Update summer schedule

This is the last regular biweekly issue of Info Update for this academic year. The newsletter is published once a month over the summer (June 16, July 14) and will resume a biweekly publishing schedule in mid-August.

Submitting announcements to Information Update

Please send your news notes to Announcements will be published no more than twice and should be limited to about a hundred words or less. The next issue of Information Update, published biweekly during the academic year and monthly in the summer, will be July 10, 2013. The deadline for submissions to this next issue is Friday, July 5, 2013 at 5 p.m. Information received after the deadline will be published in a future issue if appropriate.