Friends of LTI unite to create Chinese alumni scholarship – News

October 14, 2021

One of the most important collaborative giveaways in LTI’s history, will support students in need

Ying Zhang took charge of the fun activities while at Carnegie Mellon University Institute of Language Technologies. It was in the early 2000s, and the institute was new, small and tight-knit. Zhang, better known as Joy, quickly befriended his fellow LTI people.

Joy organized movie nights and ski, hike and rafting trips. He even threw a party in his tiny apartment to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers win the 2006 Super Bowl.

And fifteen years later, looking at a photo of the group celebrating that championship on the streets of Oakland, Joy saw her friends and what they have become. Some have founded successful businesses. Others are senior executives of large companies.

“We had a very strong bond back then, and we stayed connected even after we graduated,” Joy said. “Our careers have benefited from these connections, and now we want to help others have the same opportunities.”

The friends, all LTI alumni, came together to make one of the biggest donations to the institute in its history. Totaling approximately $ 1.2 million, the donation will establish the LTI Chinese Alumni Scholarship, providing valuable funding to LTI graduate students in need.

The elders behind the gift are:

  • Ying “Joy” Zhang (SCS 2002, 2009): former CMU teacher and staff; Director of Engineering and Data Science, Airbnb
  • Xin Liu (SCS 1999): Senior Software Engineer, Airbnb
  • Jiangbo “Max” Miao (SCS 2005): Founder, Chairman and CEO, Zhoupu Data Technology
  • Yanxin Shi (SCS 2007)
  • Rong Yan (SCS 2004, 2006): CTO, Verishop; and Yan Liu (SCS 2004, 2006): professor and director of the Machine Learning Lab, University of Southern California
  • Jian Zhang (SCS 2004, 2006): founder, Alphaton Technologies
  • Wei Xu (SCS 2000): Chief General AI Scientist, Horizon Robotics; and Yi Zhang (SCS 2001, 2005): professor, University of California, Santa Cruz; and co-founder, Rulai

The idea for the gift started out small. Conversations about donating to CMU between Joy and another former AirBnB LTI, Xin Liu, led to thinking about making a joint donation. Emails, Zoom meetings, and messages to a WeChat group of former Chinese LTIs followed. As the group grew, the size of the gift also increased.

“This gift demonstrates the character of our alumni and underlines the lasting impact of the relationships nurtured at the School of Computer Science,” said Martial Hébert, Dean of SCS. “These friends, who have helped each other in their studies and careers, are working together again to help students.

Carolyn Rosé, professor and acting director of LTI, said the new scholarship will spur innovation among students looking to take the initiative to carve out their own research. Research funded through more traditional channels comes with more constraints.

“A scholarship gives a student the opportunity to do something new and cutting edge. If there is an innovative idea, they can just launch it,” Rosé said. “It gives you freedom. You can do something risky. You have a safety net.”

This will be LTI’s first alumni scholarship for current students. And it will come from some of the institute’s early masters and doctorates. graduates said Jamie callan, professor at the institute and former interim director.

The alumni behind the giveaway joined LTI shortly after its transition from the Center for Machine Translation. Callan said the institute was a small family at the time. Yi Zhang, one of the donors, was Callan’s first doctorate. student.

“Their creativity, dedication and hard work have helped make LTI a leader in the research and education of language technologies,” said Callan. “They will always hold a special place in our hearts, and today we are touched by their generosity.”

Joy is proud of the alumni fund, but he hopes it will do more than support a scholarship in the LTI. He was inspired by the stories of Andrew Carnegie and Mao Yisheng, who received the first doctorate. of Carnegie Tech and was a renowned bridge engineer and educator in China. Both were immigrants who took advantage of their arrival in the United States and then gave back.

Maybe the gift will inspire other alumni to give back too, Joy said.

“This fund, while small, is a gesture to show that contributing to the university can be meaningful,” he said.

Anyone – from alumni to relatives and friends – interested in contributing to the LTI Chinese Alumni Scholarship can contact Sandra Zhao, Associate Director of International Development, at [email protected] or via WeChat at sandrazzhao2 for more information.

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