Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) ranks high on the list of academic institutions that receive military research and development contracts, a fiscal alliance that has made CMU a world leader in software guidance systems, communication networking systems, and most recently, warfare robotics. According to the website Fedspending.org, CMU received more than $83 million in Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in 2005.
Local antiwar activists say it is time to confront the increasing military funding of academic research. “The relationship between CMU and the DOD highlights an increasing militarization of academia. With the vast majority of funding for research in the sciences coming from the DOD and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, academics are essentially forced to work on weapons systems in order to get funding for research,” Marie Skoczylas, an activist with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) wrote in an email. “This situation creates a dangerous cycle in which students are trained for, and funneled into, those same weapons systems research programs. Students and faculty are knowing, and often unknowing, cogs in an expanding and terrifying war machine.”
The National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at CMU has already developed a wide range of war robotic technologies, including an artificial intelligence reconnaissance robot that is being utilized in Iraq. Pittsburgh peace activists are planning to shut down NREC on March 2. A recent POG press release states, “Let’s bring antiwar resistance to the center of the public’s attention and shut down a local player in the war machine.”
Attempting to shut down NREC will be a nonviolent direct action against the Iraq war as well as a symbolic statement on the increasing degree to which people are prepared to resist endless U.S. wars for empire.” After years of aggressive counterrecruiting efforts and protests, POG decided it was time to ramp up the resistance. “We felt like we could do more than marching in the street and actually confront manifestations of the war in our own backyard,” explained Skoczylas.
For more information about POG: organizepittsburgh.org.