Posts Tagged ‘Andy Hallman’

The Fairfield Ledger’s Andy Hallman reports: @DAVID_LYNCH addresses @MaharishiU graduates

June 20, 2016

Lynch addresses M.U.M. graduates

By ANDY HALLMAN Ledger news editor | Jun 20, 2016

David Lynch

Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo: Filmmaker David Lynch addresses the graduating students of Maharishi University of Management Saturday in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome. In the fall of 2013, the university debuted the David Lynch Master of Arts in Film program.

Saturday was a gorgeous day for a graduation as 366 students at Maharishi University of Management received their degrees in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome.

The list of graduates included 268 graduate students and 98 undergraduates from 53 countries. The foreign country with the most students graduating was Ethiopia with 42, followed by China with 41. Nepal, Egypt and Bangladesh each had at least 10 students graduating. Nearly one half of the students graduating, 168, earned their degrees in computer science.

The graduating class included a few interesting pairs. Touch Phai and his son Pakrigna Phai, both from Cambodia, had the honor of receiving their degrees together Saturday. Brothers Christian and Nicolas Martina from Argentina graduated together, as did the brother-sister pair of Naamee and Nahshon Yisrael from Chicago.

The commencement speaker was someone the students and faculty have come to know well: filmmaker David Lynch. M.U.M. president Bevan Morris read a long list of accolades Lynch has earned in his career, such as his Golden Globe for Best TV Series for his 1990–1991 show “Twin Peaks,” which he is filming a new season of that will air in 2017.

Adam Delfiner, Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Laure Muzzarelli

(left to right) Adam Delfiner, Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Laura Muzzarelli

Lynch’s speech was unconventional in that rather than deliver prepared remarks, he asked four graduating students to join him on stage and ask him questions. He insisted that he not be told of the questions ahead of time. The four students selected for this honor were Afomeya Bekele, Asaad Saad, Adam Delfiner and Laura Muzzarelli.

The students asked the accomplished filmmaker a wide range of questions about what makes a meaningful life, what the world will look like in 10 years and whether he would have done anything differently in his youth.

When Bekele learned she was one of the students who would ask Lynch questions, she turned to Facebook for advice on what questions to ask. She asked him when it was appropriate to trust one’s intuition, to which Lynch said that intuition should generally be trusted and that it was the No. 1 tool for artists, businessmen and women and many other careers.

Bekele said she particularly liked what Lynch said about getting ideas, which was that they are not so much invented as “caught.”

Saad is a computer science major and a graduate instructor. He sent emails to his students to ask what questions to ask, then chose the best ones. He asked Lynch about his interactions with the founder of the university, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Lynch has begun filming scenes for a documentary on Maharishi’s time traveling from northern to southern India, and Saad was curious when the documentary would be finished.

Lynch said of Maharishi that he was the “greatest master who ever walked the earth” and he gave out profound knowledge during his lifetime. Lynch said there were two keys to a better life: practicing Transcendental Meditation and drinking coffee.

On the question about his documentary of Maharishi, Lynch said that he was busy with the third season of “Twin Peaks,” but that once that is finished, he would be able to devote more time to finishing his other projects.

Andrew Rushing

Andrew Rushing

Andrew Rushing, who majored in Maharishi Vedic Science, was the school’s valedictorian and also gave a speech. Rushing said he had little more than a week to prepare his speech.

“My goal was to inspire the 2016 class to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and to encourage them to do great things,” he said.

During his speech, Rushing told the audience, “Just by being your true self, you act as a conduit for goodness in the world.”

Runzjao Xie

Runzjao Xie

Twenty-year-old business student Runzhao Xie was recognized as the youngest graduate. Xie graduated from Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in 2012, and said he could have graduated from M.U.M. as early as last year but a professor whose class he needed was not available to teach it.

“My parents were both in education, so that got me interested in academics at a young age,” he said.

Xie said he specialized in accounting and took five accounting classes in a row before university officials advised him to branch out into other subjects. He has a summer internship with Andrew Bargerstock, chair of the accounting department.

John Hagelin

Physics professor John Hagelin speaks about the exciting opportunities and responsibilities he will have Sept. 12 when he becomes the university’s new president, taking over from Bevan Morris, who held the position for 36 years.

Also announced during Saturday’s ceremonies was that John Hagelin will become the university’s new president effective Sept. 12, known as Founder’s Day at the university. He will assume the role held by Bevan Morris for the past 36 years. For the first time in its history, M.U.M. awarded post-doctoral degrees Saturday, which it bestowed upon both Morris and Hagelin. (Correction: These new post-doctoral degrees were announced and described, but will be bestowed on Drs. Morris and Hagelin Sept. 12, 2016.)

Hagelin has been a member of the faculty at M.U.M. since 1984. In addition to teaching physics, he has held many positions of leadership such as director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy and president of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

Reprinted with permission. All photos taken by Andy Hallman for Ledger photo. The 4 photos, embedded here in the article where relevant, are in an online slideshow format, with their captions, underneath David’s photo, starting with John Hagelin. The article and 5 photos appear on the front page of Monday’s Ledger concluding on page 7.

Related news: @DAVID_LYNCH answers questions from students as part of the 2016 Commencement @MaharishiU | The Hawk Eye’s Bob Saar: Filmmaker David Lynch gives MUM commencement address in Fairfield and KTVO’s Stephen Sealey reported on Maharishi University’s special graduation ceremony.


@MaharishiU Accounting Prof Andrew Bargerstock prepares students for XBRL certification – Ledger

January 17, 2014

College students learn difficult accounting program
By ANDY HALLMAN | Jan 16, 2014

Maharishi University of Management accounting professor Andrew Bargerstock teaches a class in which students are certified in an accounting program called Extensible Business Reporting Language. M.U.M. is the first college in the world to offer certification in the program as part of its academic curriculum. / Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN

Maharishi University of Management accounting professor Andrew Bargerstock teaches a class in which students are certified in an accounting program called Extensible Business Reporting Language. M.U.M. is the first college in the world to offer certification in the program as part of its academic curriculum. / Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN

Accounting students at Maharishi University of Management are getting a leg up on the competition.

Those students have the opportunity to become certified in a worldwide accounting standard. According to M.U.M. accounting professor Andrew Bargerstock, the university is the first in the world to offer this certification as part of its curriculum.

The standard is called Extensible Business Reporting Language, often referred to simply as XBRL. It is a way of creating an accounting document that allows the information to be easily transferred to government agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The program requires a high level of computer coding knowledge. Bargerstock said learning how to use the program is no easy task because the students are bombarded with tons of technical computer jargon unfamiliar to most accountants.

“Accountants typically don’t have a lot of training in IT [information technology],” Bargerstock said. “They’ll know how to run ‘Quickbooks’ and ‘Excel,’ but they don’t know anything about the underlying coding. It’s a bit of a challenge. It takes a little bit longer for the water to seep into the sponge – a very dry sponge.”

Bargerstock and 11 of his students have been certified in XBRL, so he knows just how difficult the program is to learn.

“I failed the test the first time I took it, and had to go over it and over it again,” he said.

The certification training is done online and includes instructional audio files. The first time Bargerstock tuned in to one of the audio courses, he reacted by saying to himself, “This is way beyond what I was expecting. There was so much jargon it sounded like a foreign language.”

Learning XBRL is no picnic but once the students complete the necessary training they will stand out from their peers. Recruiting firms have told Bargerstock XBRL certification will put M.U.M.’s students at the top of the pile of résumés when it comes time to look for a job.

“In job interviews, people will say whatever they need to to get the job, and they’ll be a chameleon who changes from day to day,” he said. “This certification shows the students have taken the initiative to learn something.”

The federal government has required businesses and organizations to submit their accounting records in XBRL format since 2011. Bargerstock said the advantage of XBRL is the numbers only have to be entered in the original accounting document and not in every report created from that document. When it comes time to create the reports for the various government agencies, each agency extracts from the document whatever it needs to create its own report.

In the past, accountants would have to tediously fill out reports for each government agency. Now, those reports are created automatically by the computer thanks to the way the information is coded.

Bargerstock introduced his students to XBRL certification last fall. Although he helped the students with their certification, they trained for the certification on their own outside of class and did not receive academic credit. Another group of six students began taking a class with Bargerstock in November in which they were receiving academic credit while obtaining XBRL certification. Those students will finish their class in February.

Reprinted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger. The article was on the front page of Thursday’s Ledger, five columns across the middle of the page, with a photo.

Added point of clarification from Andy Bargerstock: “The certification training does not teach the technical side (tagging) of XBRL. XBRL certification training is the first step towards competency. If any of our certified students get hired, they will need 2-3 months of intensive training in the technical aspects of XBRL.”

Related: @LauraSimon reports on @MaharishiU Accounting students gaining certification in new worldwide financial reporting standard.

Finding the needle in a haystack: MUM teaches data-mining class – Andy Hallman/Fairfield Ledger

December 14, 2013

Finding the needle in a haystack MUM class teaches students how to find useful information in a sea of data

Article & photo by ANDY HALLMAN, news editor for The Fairfield Ledger Dec 13, 2013

Maharishi University of Management professor Anil Maheshwari teaches a class on data mining at the school. The students learn how to glean insights from enormous data sets to help businesses serve their customers, among many other things.

Maharishi University of Management is becoming a key player on the national stage for its research into data mining.

Data mining refers to techniques for finding useful knowledge in a vast sea of information. Due to a recent partnership between IBM and MUM, university students have free access to IBM software to help them crunch huge data sets. They’re using those tools from IBM in a course titled “Business Intelligence and Data Mining,” taught by MUM professor Anil Maheshwari.

The IBM Academic Initiative offers participating schools course materials, training and curriculum development to 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty around the world.

Maheshwari said modern computers have taken number crunching to new heights. They allow programmers to find correlations between sometimes seemingly unrelated variables. This kind of computing power is valuable for businesses because it allows them to fine-tune their advertisements.

Businesses collect reams of information about the demographics of their customers. Data mining allows them to sort through this information to find out who buys the product, such as whether the customers are mostly male or female, young or old, single or married, etc. Learning which variables are important and which are not is key to a successful marketing campaign.

“Data mining is just like mining into diamond,” he said. “You need a lot of skill and tools but also an artistic edge of identifying the diamond.”

Maheshwari said data mining holds the promise of being able to answer questions the way contestants do on a game show such as Jeopardy! He even mentioned a computer called “Watson” that has competed on the show. The computer is fed the question and then generates an answer based partly on how the words in the question correspond to encyclopedia articles in its database. Data mining power has reached a point where Watson’s sophisticated algorithms can arrive at the correct answer even when the question employs puns.

A computer that can answer questions after searching through a database would be useful to doctors who are trying to predict whether a symptom in a patient is likely to lead to a malignant or benign tumor. Data mining computers could search through thousands of cases to find which variables, symptoms in this case, predicted malignant tumors and which predicted benign tumors.

Such technology could be applied in other realms, too, such as finding out which students were likely to drop out of school based on data about previous drop outs.

Maheshwari said collecting large amounts of data is easier than most people think considering so much of it is publically available on the Internet. He said the government gathers massive amounts of data for everything under the sun. Accessing the data is not the tricky part – knowing how to separate the wheat from the chaff is. Actually, Maheshwari said the analogy he prefers is finding a needle in a haystack, because the vast majority of data in a database is useless in answering the researcher’s question.

In response to the growing need for experts in information technology such as data mining, MUM has introduced an online graduate certificate program in Management Information Systems. The program can be completed entirely online in one to two years.

This front-page news story is reprinted with permission from the Fairfield Ledger. Click on this link to see how it appears in that issue: FFLedger12-13-13_1A.

For more on the story, including a video interview with Anil Maheshwari, see

Fairfield learns about mission to Mars from Dane Elsa Jensen, MSSS mission operations manager

April 25, 2013

Fairfield learns about mission to Mars

By ANDY HALLMAN | Apr 24, 2013

Elsa Jensen holds a photograph of “Curiosity,” NASA’s rover that is studying and photographing Mars. Jensen helped develop Curiosity’s cameras, which she spoke about April 13 at the Argiro Student Center on the campus of Maharishi University of Management.

Elsa Jensen holds a photograph of “Curiosity,” NASA’s rover that is studying and photographing Mars. Jensen helped develop Curiosity’s cameras, which she spoke about April 13 at the Argiro Student Center on the campus of Maharishi University of Management.

A woman who helped design the cameras that have taken photographs on Mars spoke to a few hundred people April 13 at the Argiro Student Center at Maharishi University of Management.

Elsa Jensen is the mission operations manager for Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. She helped develop the science cameras on NASA’s Mars rover, “Curiosity.”

Jensen was born and raised in Denmark. She has had an interest in space exploration as long as she can remember. She spoke about how entering the space program seemed like an unrealistic goal in her youth, and she assumed she would have to find another outlet for her passion.

A schoolteacher once asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She told him she wanted to go to space, but she added she knew little girls from Denmark don’t go to space.

“Why not?” the teacher responded, and with that Jensen embarked on a quest to fulfill her dream.

NASA launched the Curiosity rover from Earth in November 2011 and landed it on Mars in August 2012. The rover is a robot that is controlled from Earth. It can move on wheels, take photographs and collect data about Mars’s climate and geology by analyzing the chemical composition of rocks on the planet.

Jensen said people in the audience were probably curious why NASA sent a rover to Mars.

“We wanted to explore,” she said. “We wanted to reach farther than mankind has ever reached before.”

The rover’s intended destination was a crater in the middle of a mountain. This site was chosen because it would be the most interesting scientifically since the rover could study multiple layers of sediment in a small area. It is tasked with finding out if Mars could have supported life at one time.

Jensen said the camera her company designed for Mars takes photographs in red, green and blue pixels, just as many cameras do on Earth. She said the photographs on Mars appear comparable to those taken with a 2-megapixel camera.

Curiosity has a camera on an arm which it can extend 6 feet. The rover took a series of pictures of itself with its arm extended. Jensen and her crew pieced those photos together to get a self-portrait of Curiosity without its arm in the picture, making it appear someone or something else took the photo.

Jensen’s work with the rover has produced a few stressful situations, none more stressful than what has been dubbed the “seven minutes of terror.” That is the length of time between Curiosity’s entry into the Martian atmosphere and when it touched down. That was when Curiosity was most likely to crash.

The first problem Curiosity encountered was the heat. Curiosity descended to the Martian surface in a protective heat shell because the friction of traveling through the atmosphere produced a temperature of 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The other problem Curiosity faced was speed. The spacecraft was traveling 13,000 miles per hour upon entering the atmosphere. A parachute slowed the craft down to 200 miles per hour. Once Curiosity was two kilometers above the surface, it released its parachute and turned on a jetpack on its bottom side that allowed it to gradually descend. As it approached 20 meters above the surface, the rover itself was lowered on a tether from its jetpack so it did not land in the middle of the dust storm the jetpack had created.

Jensen not only told the audience about Curiosity’s descent but actually showed a video of it from the Mars Orbiter, an orbiting satellite 400 miles above the surface.

Jensen and her team members work according to Martian time instead of Earth time so they can be at their posts when the rover and orbiter are sending information back to Earth. A Martian day is slightly longer than an Earth day at 24 hours and 40 minutes.

NASA has made exciting discoveries about Mars because of Curiosity. Jensen said the rover has found key chemical ingredients such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur.

“The mineralogy indicates a long interaction with liquid water,” she said.

Jensen said she was able to manage the stress of her job through Transcendental Meditation, which she learned a week before Curiosity landed on Mars.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger.

Two years later a former Computer Science MUM faculty member would make the top 100 cut for a trip to Mars! Read the Des Moines Register cover story: Former Iowan among finalists for Mars trip.

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