Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Amanda Waltz

All eyes were on Pittsburgh yesterday when 500-plus invited guests gathered at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh for the first-ever White House Frontiers Conference, a daylong event culminating in an address by President Barack Obama and panel where he participated.

At CMU’s Jared L. Cohon University Center, Secret Service agents and SWAT team members weaved through hundreds of tech entrepreneurs and students attending panels featuring top scientists and researchers discussing innovative approaches to solving community and national issues. Those leading the interplanetary track–which covered space exploration and the journey to Mars–were easily identified by their shirts emblazoned with NASA patches.

Just down the street, the University of Pittsburgh hosted tracks on healthcare (Personal) and the issues of climate change and clean energy (Global). The other two tracks featured were Local, focusing on transportation and criminal justice, and National, featuring Artifical Intelligence.

At the event, it was announced that $300 million in funds would be granted to further technology’s role in improving city infrastructure, brain research, small-satellite technology and precision medicine.

The choice of setting made sense in a time when Pittsburgh has garnered wide attention for its role as an emerging tech hub and smart city.

“Pittsburgh’s overnight success story is 30 years of hard work and innovation,” said Mayor Bill Peduto while addressing attendees at the Local Frontiers track. At the center of that success are the research and startups produced by Pitt and CMU.

The Local Track

Peduto offered his views on transportation on a panel that included United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Zipcar co-founder and former CEO Robin Chase, and Tim Kentley-Klay of the autonomous driving startup Zoox.

In a breakout session on transportation that followed, Foxx asked, “What fundamental changes in transportation policy need to happen? It took a hell of a lot to get Congress focused on it. The conversation has always been 90 percent where will the money come from and 10 percent policy.” It needs to be the reverse, he said.

The $65 million in new funding awards announced at the Conference “will help cities and communities do the work to advance on a local level,” he said, citing the work of the Traffic 21 initiative in Pittsburgh where smart traffic signals have helped to reduce traffic congestion by 40 percent. The increased funding will allow that to “be applied to Downtown Pittsburgh much more broadly.”

“To reduce congestion, to increase safety, to really hardness opportunity, we are changing how we think about innovation,” Foxx said. ” There has to be constant vigilance by everyone . . . You tell us what you don’t like, tell us what you do like; we’re going to keep trying to build a better mousetrap.”

Kids are our future

Two themes that resounded throughout the day were about how our children will be the ones to solve many of the problems we face today and how critical it is to prepare all of our kids for the future, and how no one should be left behind as we innovate our way to the future.

“We are stronger than we think we are,” said Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer at the White House. “How do we unlock and unleash the talent of everyone?”

More than once, a panelist talked about how “a seven-year-old is out there” who will one day to be able to solve the problems we face today. The 20-year-old leader of Greening Forward, Charles Orgbon III, urged the audience to “think differently about your role with young people. You’re not just a teacher of young people. To create that transformative change, we’re gonna need a lot of things and one of those things is your role as a mentor.”

The problems of today, he said, “should not be left to so-called experts. Young people are ready to take action against the environmental issues that impact us and the global challenges we face. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change.”

Obama addressed climate change in his remarks. “We don’t listen to science just when it fits our ideology. That’s the path to ruin,” he said. “When the Russians beat us into space we didn’t deny that Sputnik was up there…we acknowledged the facts and then we built a space program almost overnight and beat them to the moon.”

Obama gave a shout-out to numerous people and groups advancing the city, including the Girls of Steel, the upcoming Maker Faire, and the remarkable work at Pitt around brain implants. He talked about meeting Nathan Copeland, paralyzed since 2014, who has a prosthetic arm that allows him to feel sensation in his fingers. He shook his hand, said Obama, then they fist-bumped.

Making sure all are included

A panel roundtable discussion later led by Chief Innovation & Performance Officer Debra Lam pointed out that Pittsburgh still has some hurdles to overcome in order to make this new tech landscape inclusive for all.

“You need to ask, am I reaching out to everyone?” Lam said as she led a group containing tech, education and nonprofit representatives from Pittsburgh and throughout the country. “If I’m not, how do I do that?”

One solution lies in sourcing and analyzing data to understand the city’s needs and concerns. It was recently used to show how diverse Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods really were. “Data doesn’t lie,” said Lam.

Chief of Innovation and Performance Debra Lam at the White House Frontiers Conference. Photo by Amanda Waltz.
Chief of Innovation & Performance Debra Lam at the White House Frontiers Conference. Photo by Amanda Waltz.
The words ring true for one agreement made just prior to Obama’s arrival for his afternoon address. Peduto announced plans to join forces with White House-led Police Data Initiative (PDI), which supports efforts of local law enforcement to build trust with the communities they serve by using data to increase transparency and accountability.

“In order to rebuild police-community trust, transparency is a vital first step,” said Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay in an official statement. “In a free democracy, the public has a right to understand the workings of government, and the actions of law enforcement touch the lives of our citizenry in powerful ways.”

Part of the participation includes the expansion of the Guide to Crime, Courts, and Corrections, a website developed by the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC) to increase public access to law enforcement data for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The WPRDC will enlist help from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Department of Innovation & Performance, and the Allegheny County Human Services to add up-to-date information on everything from non-traffic violations to police training to civil rights lawsuits.

The site will also feature a variety of tools, such as charts, maps, interactive visuals and reports, as well as additional criminal justice-related data provided by Allegheny County and the State of Pennsylvania.

“This important work continues to build upon our broader efforts around open data,” said Lam in an official statement. “We hope that providing such data not only increases government accountability but empowers the community and strengthens partnerships. This is another testament to Pittsburgh’s inclusive innovation.”

Bonnie Pfister

The Pittsburgh region’s unique combination of geographic density, a deep pool of talent emerging from its universities and friendly people have made it an alternative to Silicon Valley for technology startups, The Atlantic recently reported.

Reporter John Tierney talks to Alpha Lab Gear’s Ilana Diamond, Innovation Works’ Rich Lunak and Andrew Moore, the new dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, to get details on how thePittsburgh region has become such fertile ground for new tech companies.

Read the full story here.

 

Bonnie Pfister

FeatureRMorganFew places are as old-school Pittsburgh as Eat’n Park, which began as a single car-hop eatery during the Truman Administration. But there’s a lot more to the home of Smiley cookies than you may realize.

It’s a large regional employer not only through its restaurants but its Cura Hospitality, which caters for hospitals and senior living communities, and Parkhurst Dining Services, which serves corporations, private higher education institutions, and cultural centers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. It’s also an industry pioneer in sustainability, from building LEED-certified restaurants and using LED lighting to a commitment to locally sourced food that dates back to 2002.

In recent years, Eat’n Park has opened two hip, finer-dining individual restaurants, including the Cultural District’s Six Penn Kitchen and The Porch overlooking verdant Schenley Plaza in the heart of bustling Oakland. The newest concept is Hello Bistro, which focuses on juicy burgers and an extravagant salad bar with locations in Oakland and the South Side.

That’s where such people as Rob Morgan come in. A manager at the Oakland Hello Bistro, in his free time he is able to enjoy the best of both city and country living. A night out for this self-professed foodie and his wife could mean sampling the other venues in the city’s increasingly vibrant food scene, or star-gazing at Mingo Creek Park near his Washington County home.

Morgan is one of the Neighbors featured on ImaginePittsburgh.com, a virtual concierge that highlights live, work and play options in the 10-county region. Here you can check out the more than 20,000 jobs gathered by ImaginePittsburgh.com’s powerful aggregator, sign up for updates about the region through our monthly eNewsletter, RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter or other social media channels and take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz to see which Neighbors share your interests, with tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region.

Bonnie Pfister
Jim Judkis/Courtesy Washington Post Fred Rogers and an unnamed boy at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Institute, 1978.
Jim Judkis/Courtesy Washington Post
Fred Rogers and an unnamed boy at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Institute, 1978.

It may not feel much like spring today, but one thing that can always bring a lift to the spirit is remembering Fred Rogers. America’s favorite neighbor would have been 86 years old today.

Born in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Fred Rogers was a minister, an educator, a songwriter, an author and of course creator and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001 from public radio station WQED, based in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. He was beloved by children of all ages for speaking to them directly and without condescension. When he died at age 74 in 2003, The New York Times noted he had been one of the country’s most sought-after commencement speakers. “If college seniors were not always bowled over by his pronouncements, they often cried tears of joy just to see him, an old friend of their childhood.”

ImaginePittsburgh.com is proud to be part of the place Mr. Rogers called home, so much so that when we decided to showcase real people who have chosen to move to – or move back to – the Pittsburgh region, we dubbed them our Neighbors.

Want to learn about and connect with them?  Take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh” quiz to be matched up with “Neighbor types” who may share your interests — be they Outdoor Enthusiasts, City Centrics, Family Focused and more — and have tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region. Use the powerful job search aggregator featuring more than 22,000 jobs open right now in the region, to consider your next career move, or check out our Featured Employers to find out what jobs they’ve got open and what they’re looking for in people they hire and promote. (Among those hiring are The Children’s Institute, where the much-shared photo of Fred Rogers, above, was taken in 1978.)

 

Bonnie Pfister

Pittsburgh has jobs: 24,869 open positions in the 10-county region as of Feb. 25, as a matter of fact. And the right gig for you might not necessary be where you expect. There are IT jobs at banks, accountant positions at energy companies, and construction jobs at advertising firms — just to name a few. Check ‘em out:

Branch Manager at Dollar Bank in Washington County

Construction Installer Crewmember at Lamar Advertising

Export Control Compliance Manager at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland

Staff Accountant at EQT in Downtown Pittsburgh

Content Development Intern at ImaginePittsburgh.com in Downtown Pittsburgh

Check ImaginePittsburgh.com regularly for more career opportunities and news about the region. You can also sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

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Bonnie Pfister

There are nearly 24,000 jobs open right now in the 10-county region on ImaginePittsburgh.com, your one-stop-shop for news and information about career opportunities and live-work-play options. We’ve designed a powerful career search aggregator that each night scrapes job postings from thousands of corporate websites and search engines, and puts them all in one convenient place.

Here are a few of the postings on the site right now. Click on the company name to learn more about what it’s like to work there.

Business Systems Consultant at BNY Mellon

Electronics Technician at Industrial Scientific

Senior Analyst-Survey at CONSOL Energy Inc.

Integrated Marketing Specialist at MSA

Payroll Associate at University of Pittsburgh

Bookmark ImaginePittsburgh.com to check back regularly for more career opportunities and news about the region. You can also sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

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