2010 Smiley Award Winners
SMILEY AWARD 2010
....an ingratiating robot that looks like a tiny yellow snowman.
....a hilarious technological twist.
2011 Corporate Sponsor
Scott Fahlman, LTI (Organizer)
Alona Fyshe (ML)
2009 Smiley Award Presentation and "Happy" Reception
20 February 2009
On September 19, 1982, Scott E. Fahlman, then and now a faculty member in the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University, posted a message on the department's online bulletin-board system proposing that we use :-) as a symbol for "I'm just kidding" and :-( as a symbol for "This is serious". The idea caught on and soon was in common use at Carnegie Mellon and a few other research universities. Then, as the internet spread around the world and eventually into our living rooms, the smiley spread along with it. Love them or hate them, the smiley and the other "emoticons" that it inspired have become a ubiquitous feature of online communication.
In celebration of this pivotal event in the history of human communication , the Department of Computer Science of Carnegie Mellon University has established an annual Smiley Award for innovation in technology-assisted person-to-person communication.
The Smiley Award competition is open to graduate or undergraduate students from any part of Carnegie Mellon, or to small teams of students. The winning entry will receive a $500 cash prize, generously provided by our corporate sponsor, Yahoo! Incorporated. In addition, each winner will receive a framed Smiley Award trophy and eternal bragging rights. The names of the annual winners will be engraved on a plaque on permanent display in the Computer Science Department.
The Smiley Award is aimed at recognizing clever, perhaps small or “bootleg” contributions, in the spirit of the original smiley symbol. The award is not meant to recognize the products of large funded research projects – such things are amply rewarded in other ways.
Choosing a winner each year is necessarily a subjective process. We have assembled a distinguished (but not /too/ distinguished) panel of students and faculty to serve as judges – people who, in the opinion of the contest organizers, demonstrate the right kind of “out of the box” thinking. In addition to picking the contest winner, the judges will have the final say on interpretation of the rules, and they may decide to modify the contest rules and procedures for future years. Judges may not compete in the contest.
There are three primary criteria for a winning entry:
A winning entry may be strong on some of these criteria and weak on others, but we hope to see entries that are strong in all three. Extra credit will be awarded for the following:
The work must have been fully disclosed to the public, and must be usable by the public in some form, at the time of the nomination. However, the nominees may retain intellectual property rights to the work.
Individual nominees and, in the case of teams, all members of the team, must be Carnegie Mellon students or recent graduates (within the past two years).
Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible, as well as students on leave of absence at the time of the nomination.
If a faculty member or some other non-student was involved in some way, all participants must agree that the student nominees were primarily responsible for conceiving and developing the work.
The bulk of the development for the nominated work must have taken place during the nominees' time as a student here, and not more than four years prior to the nomination date. We want to recognize recent work.
To be eligible for the Smiley Award, a work must be nominated. Each nomination requires a description, in Word or .pdf format, of no more than three pages. It should describe the work, list the authors, and state when the work was conceived, developed, and released. Self-nominations are allowed.
Additional information -- demos, videos, testimonials, etc -- can be placed on a web site, and, where appropriate, the judges may ask to see a live demonstration of the work in action. However, the nomination document should make the case by itself; the judges are not obliged to consider the other materials, especially in the preliminary rounds of screening.
Nominations for the 4th Annual Smiley Award are open through 16 March 2011. The award recipient/s will be announced at the end of March. Winners will be recognized and feted on March 25 at the annual Awards Ceremony and Happy Gathering.
Nominations should be sent by Email to
In order to give potential applicants some idea of what the judges are looking for, we include here some historical examples of works that would have been strong contenders for a Smiley Award – if they had been created by students (as some of them were) and in the proper time-frame.