Uber’s driverless vehicles — the first to hit American roadways — have begun picking up passengers in Pittsburgh.

In a race with Google and Tesla to bring autonomous vehicles to market, Uber is poised to leap ahead thanks in part to the talented engineers that emerge from Carnegie Mellon University, Bloomberg News, Forbes and others have reported.

A few of Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle began appearing on Pittsburgh streets around Labor Day, with a fleet of 100 to be rolled out by year’s end. Cars in Pittsbugh will have safety drivers and co-pilots.

Uber began operating in Allegheny County in early 2014, and recently expanded service to several adjacent counties. In February 2015, the San Francisco based company partnered with CMU to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center just off campus, foucsing on developing long-term technologies. The partnership includes collaboration between Uber and the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville around mapping, vehicle safety and autonomy technology.

Check out the Bloomberg’s video here, and read the full article here.


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As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Kris B. Mamula reported recently, additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — has broad implications for the region. Pittsburgh still makes things — in new, flexible ways. 

Published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette under the headline CMU center relives city’s industrial past / July 23, 2016


Part of Pittsburgh’s industrial past was reborn Friday in a sleek new building on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.

The university announced a collaboration of industry, academia and government as part of its year-old NextManufacturing Center. Attending the kickoff reception were faculty, students and business owners who are interested in reinventing how things are made in the 21st century.

Additive manufacturing — sometimes called 3D printing — is the biggest thing to happen in metallurgy in 50 years and one with broad implications for the Western Pennsylvania economy, said Anthony Rollett, associate director of the NextManufacturing Center.

“This will change the way people think about making things,” said Mr. Rollett, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering. “You’re going to see it pop up in many different ways and it will have a broad and pervasive economic impact.”

Additive manufacturing shapes layers of metal bits, liquid polymers or other materials into aerospace parts, biomedical devices and wide variety of other items. Historically, metal parts have been cast from molten metal, which is a slower process with less flexibility.

CMU’s center is the second of its kind in the region — the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering in June announced plans to open the Ansys Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory.

U.S. Steel Corp., a corporate name synonymous with Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage, was among 11 companies that signed on as founding members of the new consortium at CMU. Others include Alcoa, Ansys Inc. Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. and General Electric Co.

In April, GE announced the investment of $39 million in an advanced manufacturing research center in Findlay. GE’s Center for Additive Technology Advancement employs 22 engineers and plans to add another 28 high-tech workers next years.

Additive manufacturing also has big implications for biomedical devices, said Adam Feinberg, associate professor materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering. Making catheters that are tailored to the individual patient is among many opportunities offered by the technology, he said.

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Phil Cynar

The 2015 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award recipient for 2015 is Lynn M. Banaszak, executive director of the Disruptive Health Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She was presented with the award – recognizing professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women – at the 25th annual ATHENA Awards luncheon on Oct. 9.

Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the ATHENA Awards are unique among regional honors for professional women because of the focus on developing the next generation of leaders through mentorship.

Lynn BanaszakAt the Disruptive Health Technology Institute, for which she led the launch in 2013, Lynn Banaszak has directed more than $4.5 million to 36 new, disruptive technologies that are bringing transformational improvements in the affordability, accessibility, quality and simplicity of healthcare solutions. Over the past 15 years she has been responsible for developing strategic road mapping for many healthcare and life sciences companies and has overseen product and technology development and marketing implementation for tech startups. Formerly, she was chief relationship officer at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

In addition to her professional duties, Banaszak is noted by her peers for providing extensive mentoring activities and commitments to help foster leadership skills, civic engagement, professional and personal development and entrepreneurial creativity, regionally and nationally. She is described as a “connector” … one who is “thoughtful and strategic about making sure that the most constituents as possible can benefit from any situation, particularly women and girls.” Just a few of the many organizations and groups with which she actively engages include 100 Women Who Care, Pittsburgh Women in Bio, the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh’s Tile Quilt Campaign, Women and Girls Foundation, Coro Pittsburgh’s Women in Leadership and A Day in My Shoes Pittsburgh. In nominating her for the ATHENA award, one of Banaszak’s peers wrote, “She pays it forward and is always quick to help, connect and mentor whenever the opportunity presents itself. She epitomizes the character of ATHENA.”

The other 2015 finalists, chosen from among 49 nominees, were:

  • Doris Carson Williams, president and chief executive officer, African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Lisa Lenihan, United States magistrate judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Rhonda Moore Johnson, senior medical director of Health Equity and Quality Services, Highmark Inc.
  • Lucille Prater-Holliday, founder, Black Women’s Empowerment Institute

Acknowledging a leader age 35 or younger is the ATHENA Young Professional Award. Begun in 2011, this award celebrates excellence among women who will be the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow. Recognized as one such individual with the 2015 ATHENA Young Professional Award is Josie Badger, youth development director at the Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center.

Josie BadgerBadger is recognized across Pennsylvania and nationally for her work in leadership development among youth with disabilities. In 2007, she graduated summa cum laude from Geneva College, majoring in disability law and advocacy. She earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling in 2009 from the University of Pittsburgh and pursued a doctorate in healthcare ethics from Duquesne University in 2014. She serves as campaign manager for #IWantToWork, a statewide advocacy campaign that has successfully lobbied for changes to policy and legislation to promote employment and full inclusion for individuals with disabilities.

Badger helped to found and then lead the Children’s Hospital Advisory Network for Guidance and Empowerment (CHANGE), an organization dedicated to improving the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare for youth with disabilities and complex health conditions. She was selected in 2011 as Ms. Wheelchair America – traveling nationally and internationally in that role – to educate the public about the potential for people with disabilities to lead full and enriching lives. In her award nomination it was recognized that “women and girls need to learn to navigate both internal and external barriers to success – issues which are compounded for women with disabilities who encounter daily stigma and discrimination.” One of her mentees shared how Badger “helped her find her own voice [as a woman with a disability] and to realize that “being ordinary isn’t really what I wanted. Walking or not walking, I wanted to be extraordinary.”

The other 2015 ATHENA Young Professional Award finalists, chosen from among 29 nominees, were:

  • Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-founder and co-owner, Wigle Whiskey
  • Aurora Sharrard, executive director and vice president of innovation, Green Building Alliance

During the event, the 2015 ATHENA Host Committee announced that a new scholarship fund has been created that will enable young female leaders to hone their negotiation skills.

“The Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship Fund makes this year’s milestone awards luncheon even more special. Because of this scholarship – named after one of the region’s truly great female leaders – a young female leader will be able to attend the CMU Leadership and Negotiation Academy tuition-free to further develop her skills. This scholarship is a fitting tribute to Barbara McNees,” said 2015 ATHENA Host Committee Chair Beth Bershok.

Marking its silver anniversary this year, the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards Program Luncheon is one of the largest stand-alone events of its kind among some 500 presented annually across the globe in affiliation with ATHENA International. Learn more at 

The ATHENA Awards are convened by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the parent entity of

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The ATHENA Awards are the networking event of the season for men and women of all backgrounds! Tickets available here:

The results are in: five  prominent leaders from the Pittsburgh region have been named 2015 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards finalists.

They will be recognized on Oct. 9 for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the 25th Annual ATHENA & Young Professional Awards Luncheon, presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the Westin Convention Center Hotel, one  At the event, one finalist will become the recipient of the 2015 ATHENA Award. The 2015 ATHENA finalists, selected from among a record 49 nominees – a record-setting number – compose a varied and distinguished group of women. The finalists are:

  • Lynn M. Banaszak, executive director, Disruptive Health Technology Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Doris Carson Williams, president & chief executive officer, African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA
  • Lisa Lenihan, United States magistrate judge, United States District Court for the Western District of PA
  • Rhonda Moore Johnson, senior medical director of health equity & quality services, Highmark Inc.
  • Lucille Prater-Holliday, founder, Black Women’s Empowerment Institute

The ATHENA Young Professional Award will also be presented — to a woman age 35 or younger who exemplifies the qualities of ATHENA with an emphasis on modeling positive leadership to peers. This is the fifth year for the “Young ATHENA” award and also a record year, with 29 nominations. The 2015 AYPA finalists are:

  • Josie Badger, youth development director, PEAL Center
  • Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-founder and co-owner, Wigle Whiskey
  • Aurora Sharrard, vice president of innovation, Green Building Alliance.

Last year’s luncheon drew nearly 900 attendees, securing the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award Luncheon’s status as the largest stand-alone event of its kind in the world among the 500-plus communities around the globe that present the award each year.

Tickets for the luncheon may be purchased at

The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards Program is made possible by support from UPMC Health Plan; Citizens Bank; KPMG LLP; Jones Day, Pittsburgh Magazine; PPG Industries, Inc.; Williams; WTAE-TV; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women; Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.; The Ellis School; and Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP. 

Zersha Munir

Consider yourself an innovator? BNY Mellon wants to hear your ideas! In collaboration with The Forbes Fund, BNY Mellon presents the UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge to support entrepreneurs dedicated to solving Pittsburgh’s problems. Entrepreneurs — from students to startups to established firms — are welcome to submit their products or product ideas in solution to any of the three UpPrize challenges for prizes of grant and investment money. The challenges include:

Independence: What products might better equip people to be caretakers of themselves and their neighbors?

Access: What products might reduce physical barriers to accessing services and opportunity?

Coordination: What products might help multiple organizations better coordinate how they distribute goods and services to those in need?

UpPrize encourages purpose-driven innovation and offers $800,000 in grants and investments, as well as additional benefits and supports for a total prize value in excess of $1 million. Community partners and advisers include Google, Carnegie Mellon University and the Idea Foundry. Submissions simply require a  two-minute video discussing your team, product and vision, and should be submitted using YouTube or Vimeo. Submission deadline is Wednesday, April 15 at 5 p.m EST. 

Have some ideas? Then visit the UpPrize site for more information and to enter the challenge.

Next, register to attend NEXTpittsburgh’s UpPrize networking event, Mix It Up, on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Alpha Lab Gear to spend an evening with Pittsburgh’s local leaders and innovators. Event partners include Mayor Peduto, Fygment, Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partners and several local establishments, all who came together to plan a night of networking exercises and fun.

UpPrize competition eligibility guidelines and FAQ’s can be found here. Further questions can be tweeted at “@UpPrize” on Twitter or emailed in.

UBERCMUThe ride-sharing service Uber — that with Lyft has been a balm to all those who have despaired of Pittsburgh’s unreliable taxi service — has chosen Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University for a partnership to grow the company.

The Uber Advanced Technologies Center will be located in RIDC’s Chocolate Factory near CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville. It will focus on development of key long-term technologies, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.

The joint venture will also include funding from Uber to support job opportunities for faculty chairs and graduates of CMU – recognizing and supporting Carnegie Mellon’s world-renowned faculty and its efforts to attract the best and brightest graduate students. CMU Dean of the School of Computer Science Andrew Moore is looking forward to partnering with Uber and working together to “build real-world applications at the intersections of technology, mobility and human interactions.”