CMU taps Google VP as new dean of computer science


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Eight years after embarking on a career at Google -- and doing so without leaving Pittsburgh -- Andrew W. Moore is returning to Carnegie Mellon University, this time as dean of its internationally known School of Computer Science.

The Google vice president begins his duties in August, the university announced Tuesday.

Mr. Moore, a computer scientist and expert in machine learning and robotics, was a professor of computer science and robotics prior to becoming the founding director of Google's Pittsburgh engineering office in 2006.

The academic with British roots initially joined the university's faculty in 1993. His return was detailed in an email to campus from Carnegie Mellon president Subra Suresh.

Over the years, the computer science school whose scholars helped found the discipline has enjoyed prominent standing among global peers, and since 2011 its graduate program in computer science has ranked No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report. In his email, Mr. Suresh said that as computing and computer science grow increasingly vital to society, the school's standing and "its impact on the human condition will become more evident."

He said Mr. Moore's appointment speaks to that ascent.

"Andrew Moore combines an expansive vision, scientific expertise, and leadership strength that make him extraordinarily well-suited to be dean of the School of Computer Science," he wrote.

"Andrew is particularly well-positioned to lead the school at this time."

Mr. Suresh added, "Andrew is returning to Carnegie Mellon because he is convinced of the tremendous opportunities before SCS and the university at this time."

Mr. Moore was not available to be interviewed Tuesday, but in a statement released by CMU he said: "Ever since college I have been inspired by the world-changing ideas and technologies that come out of CMU. I'm privileged to return to the School of Computer Science in this new role."

Mr. Moore succeeds Randal Bryant, dean since 2004 who plans to return to teaching on the campus.

The new dean spent his childhood in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, according to CMU. He studied mathematics and computer science at the University of Cambridge.

Following graduation, he worked for Hewlett Packard Research Labs in Bristol for a year, then went back to Cambridge, from which he received a doctoral degree in computer science in 1991.

He joined Carnegie Mellon's faculty in 1993 after doing post-doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In its announcement, Carnegie Mellon said Mr. Moore's scientific research spans areas from enhancing manufacturing methods and locating far-away asteroids to approaches to spot bioterrorism with help from data on over-the-counter medication purchases. The school said his campus-based research group, the Auton Lab, works regularly with various researchers, government agencies and tech firms.

In 2005, word that the search engine giant based in the Silicon Valley would set up a Pittsburgh outpost was seen as a boon to the city's high-tech image. Google made the decision after contacting several CMU researchers and graduates interested in Google but not interested in leaving Pittsburgh, Craig Nevill-Manning, the director of Google's New York City-based Engineering Center, said at the time.

"The response [always] was, 'I really like living in Pittsburgh,' " he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that year. "If we were gonna hire these people, we'd have to open an office here."

Since Mr. Moore began his tenure with Google, the Pittsburgh office has grown to more than 275 employees, expanded its footprint in Larimer's Bakery Square office complex to more than 160,000 square feet and has committed to expanding an additional 66,000 square feet to occupy a six-story office building being built across the street in the Bakery Square 2.0 complex.

Mr. Moore has also been instrumental in steering the engineering office toward development of core engineering and infrastructure tools and overseeing the creation of services such as AdWords, Google Shopping, Sky Map and Computer Vision for Android, which guides the facial recognition technology Face Unlock.

"Andrew Moore has been a respected contributor to Google and the Pittsburgh community," said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc., a former CMU trustee. "Some of Google's strongest talent has come out of CMU, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the university. I know Andrew will help inspire the next generation of innovators."

The new dean lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Mary, and two children, William and Lucy, the university said.


Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG. Deborah Todd contributed. First Published April 15, 2014 1:46 PM

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