Empowering the Next Generation at Carnegie Mellon University with the World’s Leading Translation Management System

Carnegie Mellon academic customer story featured image | Phrase

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private research university that ranks among the world’s most renowned educational institutions. Established in 1900 and located in Pittsburgh, Pa., CMU’s student population has more than 14,500 students representing 100-plus countries.

With cutting-edge brain science, path-breaking performances, innovative startups, driverless cars, big data, big ambitions, Nobel and Turing prizes, hands-on learning, and a whole lot of robots, the university doesn’t imagine the future—CMU creates it.

Carnegie Mellon University mascot photo | Phrase
Carnegie Mellon students forming the Scotty dog university mascot


CMU’s journey to incorporating Phrase’s user-friendly, cloud-based TMS in Master’s Program

In 2019, CMU’s Department of Modern Languages launched a master’s degree program in Global Communication and Applied Translation. One of the program’s core classes is Translation Technologies, which explores computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, machine translation, translation management systems (TMS), and translation memory.

To demonstrate the use of CAT tools, the students were initially introduced to a variety of platforms. At the end of the first semester, they would select their preferred technology to use for the remainder of the three-semesters program.

However, many students felt overwhelmed by heavyweight CAT solutions. Since the Translation Technologies course is open to undergraduates who may not be pursuing a translation and localization career, they often lack the context to successfully integrate and utilize the advanced functions they’re learning.

Carnegie Mellon University photo | Phrase


How Phrase is revolutionizing translation and localization education for Modern Language students

To meet its educational objectives, CMU deployed Phrase TMS.

Mary Jayne McCullough, Adjunct Faculty Lecturer in CMU’s Department of Modern Languages, uses Phrase TMS to teach students the basics of CAT tools, including how to use the tool to translate various languages, what some of the advanced functions do and why, how to assign and configure projects as a project manager (PM), and how to leverage assets.

Students are also introduced to Phrase TMS in Project Manager (PM) and Linguist modes, with both providing valuable and unique learning opportunities and environments. For example, the PM feature enables students to gain hard skills in project management, which would be a solid career path for many students, McCullough said. She believes that gaining experience in project management also can make them better linguists and provide a deeper understanding of the tool.

A lot of students can be pretty intimidated by CAT tools. Phrase is less intimidating for most students but is still very powerful.

Mary Jayne McCullough portrait | Phrase

Mary Jayne McCullough
Adjunct Faculty Lecturer CMU
Department of Modern Languages

Phrase is used to teach students about machine translation (MT), which leverages artificial intelligence to translate text into other languages. Students are taught to use the Phrase editor with MT both enabled and disabled, so they can see and understand the difference. They’re also shown how to enable and disable MT in project management mode.

By using Phrase TMS, students also gain an understanding of translation memories and how they are applied. Translation memories can be an esoteric concept to explain, particularly to those new to the translation and localization space.

Why Phrase?

Phrase provides a powerful yet lightweight tool that is intuitive, accessible, and approachable for students. For McCullough, its biggest bonus is that it’s cloud-based and not limited to PCs. “I also find Phrase’s customer support and academic licensing plan to be super friendly, flexible, and responsive, which I really appreciate,” McCullough said.

Phrase TMS packs all the power without the fuss. Although students are free to use whatever CAT tools they’d like throughout the program, McCullough recommends that they stick with Phrase. She previously taught students how to use different functions using a variety of tools and platforms; she has since consolidated her instruction on Phrase.

I have a lot of students who enter the program using other translation tools. I don’t tell them they have to use a certain tool, but in all of my classes, I teach using Phrase entirely.

Mary Jayne McCullough portrait | Phrase

Mary Jayne McCullough
Adjunct Faculty Lecturer CMU
Department of Modern Languages


Breaking barriers in language education: Phrase’s accessibility, ease of learning, and real-world application in CMU’s translation program

“I don’t mandate students to use a certain tool, but in all of my classes, I teach using Phrase entirely. They appreciate that Phrase offers a more straightforward pricing model.”  McCullough said. “And it’s the only CAT tool I teach from start to finish.”

  • Accessible: Phrase is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is browser-based, eliminating the need for installations. 
  • Easy to learn: Most students can navigate the Phrase editor in just a few lessons and are proficient in its advanced functions by the end of one semester. 
  • Real-world experience: Students can easily gain project management experience—and further maximize learning—thanks to their ability to experience the software both from the project manager and linguist roles.

CMU's Humanities Dialogue featured image | Phrase


Phrase—a catalyst for advanced translation skills at CMU

Phrase TMS helps students gain foundational CAT skills within a single semester. It’s also powerful enough to grow with students as their translation and localization skills evolve. For example, in subsequent classes that teach students about translation as a profession, they learn how to use CAT tools to generate client quotes, run analytics, and tap into QuickBooks and CRM systems to track clients and create invoices—all of which can be done through Phrase.

These foundational CAT skills are critical to any aspiring translation and localization professional, McCullough said. “I like students to understand that these tools are necessary—they’re not just nice to have,” McCullough said. “I try to really impress upon them that technology is something they will have to embrace to be competitive and to keep up.”

Phrase has all of the necessary features for students to gain foundational CAT skills in a nice, clean interface that is easy to learn—while still being a very powerful tool. I think it is approachable, which makes the learning process more relaxed. I’m also a big fan of the ease with which students can toggle between PM and linguist roles to maximize learning. And it is a huge bonus that the customer service is excellent.

Mary Jayne McCullough

Adjunct Faculty Lecturer in CMU’s Department of Modern Languages

Phrase and CMU

Phrase is proud to have links with CMU that go beyond the Academic Program.

Machine Learning and localization trailblazer Dr Alon Lavie joined the Phrase team in July 2023 as VP, AI Research. Dr. Lavie has been at the forefront of academic research in machine translation. His impressive academic credentials include 20 years serving as Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Language Technology Institute (LTI) where he is now Consulting Professor. His primary research focused on machine translation and translation evaluation as well as related areas such as MT adaptation approaches with and without human feedback, quality estimation, and methods for multi-engine MT system combination.

Alon Lavie portrait | Phrase

Phrase’s Academic Program is designed to make CAT tools accessible to students learning translation in the classroom and prepare them for life in the professional localization industry.

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