SCS Honors Cobb, Forsyth and Mazaitis At Its Annual Staff Recognition Celebration

The School of Computer Science honored three outstanding staff members at its Fifth Annual Staff Recognition Ceremony and Celebration May 3. Tina Cobb, project community coordinator in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Laura Forsyth, executive assistant in the Computer Science Department and Paul Mazaitis, a research programmer in CSD's Parallel Data Lab, were chosen from a field of 13 nominees. Each received a certificate of merit, a crystal obelisk and a monetary award in recognition of their contributions to their colleagues and the school.

Cobb, who has been with SCS only 18 months has made her mark as the "sole support for 12 creative geniuses who inhabit Randy Pausch's Stage 3 research lab," where they explore and develop mechanisms to help people interact with technology effectively and enjoyably.

"Tina is reliable, stalwart and steady," said her nominator, CSD administrative coordinator Kathy Sutton. "She is part mind reader, den mother and miracle worker. I've have never worked in an environment where anyone was so effective."

"Tina is the glue that holds Stage 3 together," added Cobb's boss Randy Pausch, associate professor, H-CI, computer science and design. "She keeps track of where we are, where we're headed and how we're going together. Tina is workhorse and wonderwoman. She has easily been the best thing that has happened since I got to Carnegie Mellon."

Paul Mazaitis' main responsibility is infrastructure support for the Parallel Data lab, which includes maintaining the physical infrastructure, support programming and user support, but he goes far beyond the bounds of his job. "Paul sets the standard for the 30 members of the lab," said his supervisor, senior research systems programmer Jim Zelenka. "His credo is, 'I make things work.' He sees his job as a 24-hour commitment and volunteered to carry a pager to be more responsive to lab member's needs." Zelenka said Mazaitis does his work with aplomb and efficiency. He is proactive, and wants to make things work right in order to make people happy.

"In Paul's mind, supporting a group means enabling them to work better, more efficiently and more productively," Zelenka said. He oftens acts as a sounding board for people needing to talk, a mediator with other laboratories and facilities groups and as a facilitator. When people are working through the night on papers or a looming demo deadline, Paul is there for them with a snack, a sympathetic ear or expertise.

Fourteen years ago, Laura Forsyth left a job at an environmental engineering firm to come to Carnegie Mellon. She worked for several faculty members but the main client has always been HCI director Dan Siewiorek, as he's passed through many incarnations in computer science and electrical engineering. Siewiorek honored Forsyth for the strong and productive relationship they continue to enjoy.

"How fortunate we are to have Laura," he said. "She is trustworthy and loyal, staying with a job until it's finished. She is helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient and cheerful. She picks me up when I am down. She is brave, impeccable and reverent."

Forsyth keeps Siewiorek on track as one of SCS's busiest faculty members. She describes him as considerate and patient. "In all my years, I've never seen him lose his temper," she said, "even when I sent him to a meeting in Florida a week early! After 14 years, I'm still waiting for things to settle down."

This year's SCS staff awardees were chosen by a nominating committee of six headed by Marian D'Amico. "This is an enormous and difficult task", D'Amico said, pointing out that they were guided by criteria including job performance, dedication, a positive attitude and contributions as a team player.

SCS administrators also presented awards to 18 staff members who have worked for the school for five, 10, 15 and 20-years. Robert McDivett as honored for 20 years service to the Computer Science Department.

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