If you’re a job seeker and a student, recent graduate or alumni of a  community college, college or university, don’t miss the WestPACS Job Fair this Wednesday, March 28 at the Monroeville Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WestPACS –  the Western Pennsylvania Career Services Association — is an independent, non-profit consortium of career services professionals representing 44 member community colleges, colleges, and universities of Western Pennsylvania. Held biannually, the  event is the largest job fair in the Pittsburgh region for college students and alumni, and over 130 employers will be in attendance.

Check out these tips from WestPACS on how to prepare for the event, or view the video below for more information on what skills and traits WestPACS employers want from candidates.


Vibrant Pittsburgh, an area nonprofit that works to advance the region’s growth through attracting and retaining diverse talent, is now accepting applications for their Mini-Grants Initiative. Funding is available to support a wide range of activities for nonprofit Affinity Groups to increase attraction and retention of diverse talent in the Pittsburgh Region. Qualifying Affinity Groups can be community-based or university student organizations that bring together people with a common interest and/or background, such as heritage, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Applications will be accepted until May 1, 2012.

To learn more about the Mini-Grants Initiative, a Mini-Grants Information Session will be held Thursday, March 8, 5:30-7:30pm at the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Call Vibrant Pittsburgh at 412-281-8600 for more information, or click here to register.

For those unable to attend the information session, a conference call will be held Friday, March 9 from 12:00-1:00pm to discuss the grant application process and answer questions. Call Vibrant Pittsburgh at 412-281-8600 to learn more, or click here to register and receive the call-in information.

Bonnie Pfister
Second-place finishers at the 2010 Intel Science Fair

On May 13-18, Pittsburgh will host more than 1,500 of the best and brightest high school students from 65 countries for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, in which young scientists compete for more than $4 million in prizes and scholarships. Last year’s winners pioneered potential cancer treatments and a system to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Fair organizers are looking for community volunteers to help with a range of activities, including setting up in the convention center, greeting participants, providing foreign language interpretation (especially Spanish, Russian and Mandarin) and judging the entries. Judges must have a minimum of six years of professional experience beyond receiving a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent.

May 17 will be a public outreach day, during which local students and teachers will can tour  the exhibits, meet the finalists and participate in a “Who Dunnit” Forensic Science Challenge.

Click here or check out the video below to learn more about the fair and volunteering.

Ben Kamber

From orange juice to motor oil to steel, Esmark Inc. is back. This one-time Chicago conglomerate now focuses on steel services and oil-and-gas production from its headquarters in Sewickley, employing 400 people as one of the region’s largest private firms. Jim Bouchard, founder and CEO of the new Esmark talks about the lessons learned from Pittsburgh’s storied steel industry.

The Power of 32  has been described as one of the most geographically ambitious regional “visioning” projects ever attempted. Over the past few years thousands of people from 32 counties across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia have gathered to develop priorities across themes of economy, education, environment and transportation. Chesapeake Energy’s Scott Roetruck — a West Virginia native and a Power of 32 steering committee member — discusses a proposed regional “fund of funds” as well as site development fund.

CONSOL Energy is on a hiring roll, adding 1,000 new workers each year for the past six, with 1,400 more expected to join the payroll in 2012. While the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom is part of that, so is the retirement of Baby Boomers from the region’s still-strong coal industry. Men and women with little experience – but a willingness to show up on time ready to learn and work — can earn total compensation of more than $100,000. Nick DeIuliis, a member of the Power of 32 education committee and president of CONSOL Energy explains why working with K-12 educators is key to connecting Pittsburgh-area workers with those jobs.

Our Region’s Business airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV.  Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Suzi Pegg

The University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning will be open through Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, although the Cathedral is closed on Dec. 24-26 and on Jan. 1, 2016. For up-to-date information on hours of operation and tours, call 412-624-6000 or visit http://www.nationalityrooms.pitt.edu/directions.

As someone in the business of bringing people from far and wide to Pittsburgh, I find The Nationality Rooms in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning to be among the region’s truly unique places to share with visitors. At Christmastime they are especially beautiful, festooned with the colorful trappings of winter holidays that are observed by cultures and religions around the globe. (More about that – and special holiday tours — below).

To me, the Nationality Rooms underscore the ultimate sustainable resource: people. Pittsburgh was built into an industrial powerhouse because of the hard work and innovative thinking of native-born men and women, and those who came from afar to make a better life here. European immigrants – particularly from Eastern Europe – were among those powered the steel boom beginning in the mid-19th century, while African-Americans who moved north during the Great Migration of the 20th century helped keep steel and other regional industries humming.

Immigration to the United States still comes from Europe, but we are increasingly seeing newcomers from such places as China, India and Latin America, with some of the highest skilled immigrants choosing Pittsburgh. “Old Europe” is still important when it comes to seeking new trade and investment for our region. I will be part of a delegation led by Governor Tom Corbett to France and Germany in 2012, which together are the top source of foreign direct investment in Pennsylvania. (My research colleagues here at the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance calculate that German-based firms are the largest foreign employer in our 10-county region, with 84 firm providing jobs to an estimated 10,585 people. Thirty-one French-based companies employ an estimated 3,475 people.)

But you don’t have to go to France or Germany – or anywhere – to take in the visual flavor of dozens and countries and cultures. The Nationality Rooms here in Oakland are actual working classrooms furnished in the style of their respective countries – down to switch plates, door handles, hinges and even wastebaskets.

The concept was developed by Pitt Chancellor John Bowman in the late 1920s as a way to emotionally and financially invest the community in the cathedral’s construction amid what would soon become quite trying economic times. The region’s ethnic communities were invited to design the rooms in styles popular in their home countries around 1787, the year the university was founded. Each group was responsible for its own fundraising, acquisition of materials, and labor costs, with Pitt providing upkeep upon completion.

Eastern European cultures are especially well-represented among the rooms, as are those of China, Japan, Syria-Lebanon and Armenia. The African heritage room reflects an Asante temple courtyard from Ghana, and Yoruban carvings depict such ancient kingdoms as Egypt, Ethiopia, Congo and Zimbabwe. Nine additional nationality room committees have made requests, with Swiss and Turkish rooms planned to open in 2012.

Around Christmastime, the 27 rooms are decked in seasonal finery, and ethnic dance performances are featured early in December. The decorations remain up through Jan. 14 (although the building is closed Dec. 24-26, and on Jan. 1). From Dec. 27-31, 90-minute guided tours are offered every half-hour from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (tickets cost $3 for adults; $1 for kids). If you can’t make it during the holiday, narrated-tape tours are available on weekends throughout the years. For more information – or to take a virtual online tour of the rooms – check out  the website of the Nationality Rooms.

Bonnie Pfister

Happy Holidays! 2011 has been a year with lots of news about the Pittsburgh region, and as a result, all of us at the Allegheny Conference’s blog – ImaginePittsburghOnline.com – have been duly busy digitally promoting the people, places and events that are moving the region forward.

Even as the year hastens to its close, we’ve still got our (Word)Press fired up through Dec. 22. Before we settle down for a short winter’s nap, we’re capping this busy year with a series of special holiday blog posts – beginning Friday, Dec. 16 – that we hope you will find light in style but rich in content.

These posts highlight some of the special events, people and places of our region’s winter holidays, but go a bit deeper to show how the Pittsburgh region is building a sustainable future by drawing on its traditional strengths as well as its knack for innovation.

Initiating the series is a post by Phil Cynar. For the Holidays, You Can’t Beat “Hope, Sweet Hope:” East Liberty and the Cathedral of Hope connects the magnificent East Liberty Presbyterian Church to the hopeful story of that neighborhood’s regeneration.

Other posts appear through Dec. 22 will:

  • reveal how Pennsylvania wind energy this year is powering both iconic and new Downtown decorations;
  • explore how the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is green beyond the “reds and greens” of its Winter Flower Show;
  • discuss diversity, epitomized by the Cathedral of Learning’s holiday-festooned Nationality Rooms, as more than superficial gilding.

Please check back regularly here at ImaginePittsburghOnline.com and (if you haven’t already done so) sign up for automatic blog updates via RSS feed to your email account, at Twitter.com/ImaginePgh or Facebook.com/PittsburghRegion.

All the best for a safe and joyous holiday and a new year full of health, and peace.

–Bonnie Pfister, Phil Cynar, Ben Kamber, Keith Trageser