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Program Directors:

Mailing Address:

Siebel Scholars Foundation
1300 Seaport Blvd., Suite 400
Redwood City, CA 94063


(650) 299-5260

2007 - Michael Heilman

Michael has always been interested in connections between human language and computer technology.  As an undergraduate, he complemented his computer science degree with a second degree in Japanese language, spending two summers in Japan along the way.  But it wasn’t until he began working with the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University that he realized he could bring his two interests together to create cutting edge tools to help educators worldwide.

Michael first helped to develop a tutoring system for ESL learners.  He used natural language processing techniques to predict the readability of texts in order to find reading materials that match the needs and interests of individual students.  Now, Michael is leveraging similar technologies to automatically generate questions about texts to test students' comprehension, which could help teachers to supplement their lessons with more content from the Internet.

Michael is also combining linguistics and computer science to identify relationships between sentences and paragraphs of text–for example, whether two texts convey similar meanings.  By comparing written homework assignments and tests to known correct answers, this sort of technology could eventually be used to automate the tedious task of grading that takes up so much of teachers' time.

Once fully developed, Michael plans to make these tools available for teachers all over the world to use.  Michael plans to finish his Ph.D. in about a year.  He enjoys running, cooking, reading, and photography.