President O’Bama to visit CMU’s robotics labs

Confronting the “Military-Industrial-Academic Complex”

The University in Chains

The University in Chains

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) ranks high on the list of academic institutions that receive military research and development contracts, a fiscal alliance that has made CMU a world leader in software guidance systems, communication networking systems, and most recently, warfare robotics. According to the website Fedspending.org, CMU received more than $83 million in Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in 2005.

 

Local antiwar activists say it is time to confront the increasing military funding of academic research. “The relationship between CMU and the DOD highlights an increasing militarization of academia. With the vast majority of funding for research in the sciences coming from the DOD and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, academics are essentially forced to work on weapons systems in order to get funding for research,” Marie Skoczylas, an activist with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) wrote in an email. “This situation creates a dangerous cycle in which students are trained for, and funneled into, those same weapons systems research programs. Students and faculty are knowing, and often unknowing, cogs in an expanding and terrifying war machine.”

The National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at CMU has already developed a wide range of war robotic technologies, including an artificial intelligence reconnaissance robot that is being utilized in Iraq. Pittsburgh peace activists are planning to shut down NREC on March 2. A recent POG press release states, “Let’s bring antiwar resistance to the center of the public’s attention and shut down a local player in the war machine.”

Attempting to shut down NREC will be a nonviolent direct action against the Iraq war as well as a symbolic statement on the increasing degree to which people are prepared to resist endless U.S. wars for empire.” After years of aggressive counterrecruiting efforts and protests, POG decided it was time to ramp up the resistance. “We felt like we could do more than marching in the street and actually confront manifestations of the war in our own backyard,” explained Skoczylas.
For more information about POG: organizepittsburgh.org.

Friday, June 24, 2011
By James O’Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Spotlighting the promise of high-tech manufacturing against a background of stubbornly bleak economic statistics, President Barack Obama will tour Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics labs today before delivering a speech on public-private partnerships to spur innovation.

Mr. Obama will make his fourth visit to the city as president before an invited audience at CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville.

His appearance comes as the economy and his administration struggle to shake off the persistent drag of the economic crisis that greeted and shaped his presidency.

Nationally and locally, manufacturing employment has been plunging for decades. At a hearing on the state of manufacturing earlier this week in Washington, Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, noted that after the roughly 5 million manufacturing job losses since 2000, that sector of the economy now accounted for fewer than 12 million jobs, “the lowest number since just before World War II.”

“It is important to note that manufacturing struggled long before the Great Recession,” Mr. Zandi said in testimony submitted to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. “Industrial production actually fell over the decade of the 2000s, recording the worst 10-year performance on record. Even during the Depression-wracked 1930s, U.S. industrial production was able to eke out a small gain.”