Arrived2nd rotatorWelcome to Pittsburgh – the “new cool,” a city topping lists for hippest neighborhoods, great places to eat and outdoors fun in all four seasons. You’ve arrived, so settle in and get to know the campus. Make new friends. And when you’re ready, grab your friends and get off campus. There’s an entire city to discover with adventures that are nearby and easy on the wallet, if not totally free!

Ready to start exploring now? Check out some great upcoming activities and events at ImaginePittsburgh.com/Play and gear up for a life you’ll love … in Pittsburgh.

Click here to learn about Pittsburgh as the new cool, and whether our Lawrenceville neighborhood really is the new Brooklyn.

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ImaginePittsburgh.com is a hub for career exploration and the great LIVE-WORK-PLAY-LEARN options in the 10-county region. 

ImaginePittsburgh.com

Follow us on Facebook/AthenaPittsburgh and Twitter/AthenaPgh. #AthenaPgh

Learn what makes a winning ATHENA nomination at Athena-Pittsburgh.com

It’s that time again — time to recognize the extraordinary women in the Pittsburgh region who go above and beyond in their work and mentorship of other women. Nominations for the 2016 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards will be accepted (online only) until 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the traditional ATHENA Award recognizes a woman who demonstrates excellence in her profession, contributes to her community and helps other women to succeed. Last year’s recipient was  Lynn M. Banaszak, executive director at Health Innovation in Pennsylvania Disruptive Health Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Josie Badger, Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center’s youth development director, received the ATHENA Young Professional Award for emerging leaders age 35 or younger.

Wondering how to craft a winning nomination? Check out this tip sheet put together by Pittsburgh Magazine Publisher Betsy Benson.

There are hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year, but Pittsburgh’s gathering is one of the largest. More than 900 women and men are expected to attend this year’s luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Interested in sponsorship? Contact sgaal@alleghenyconference.org.

Watch videos, learn more at Athena-Pittsburgh.com. / Look for updates under #PghAthena on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Zersha Munir

Pittsburgh’s got jobs — 26,860 open as of today in the 10-county region on the ImaginePittsburgh.com job search engine. That’s  a one-stop aggregator of career postings updated daily from more than 900 jobs boards, corporate websites and search engines.

Here are few available today:

Front End Web Developer at Carnegie Mellon University

Manager of Architecture at Highmark

Labor Program Coordinator at Bayer

Supplier Quality Engineer at Industrial Scientific

Senior Loan Analyst at Dollar Bank

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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 feedFacebookTwitterLinkedIn or our other social media channels.

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Story by Deb Smit

What prompts a successful Pittsburgh gaming company to change its name after 10 years?

Etcetera Edutainment had made a name for itself creating educational video games for a range of industries, but the company moniker never quite reflected its line of video gaming products for a wide range of industries, says Jessica Trybus, CEO. So it did what any smart startup would do, rebranded with a name that captures more of what it does, SimCoach Games.

The name plays off the word simulation as in simple, interactive and measurable. “It’s a sort of pivot,” says Trybus, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center who founded the company out of CMU in 2005. “We wanted to rebrand our company and let our products speak for themselves.”

SimCoach brings gamification to the corporate workforce, helping to not only train workers and teach skill sets but improve job safety, a hot space that is driving growth. The startup employs 15 and expects to nearly double in size this year. (Check out NEXT jobs.)

It also delivers video simulations for productivity, ethics, cognitive learning and customer service. Many of the products are delivered on mobile devices, says Trybus.

In 2012, the company extended its game-based methodology to sustained behavior change applications. In the coming month, UPMC will roll out a Simcoach mobile app for patients called Heart Failure Coach.

Heart failure patients will play mobile games to learn to incorporate key behaviors to facilitate their recovery. On the workforce side, the videos will assist ER doctors in recognizing trauma cases, business students in practicing ethical decision making and analysts in improving adaptive reasoning and problem solving abilities.

Hospitals are no longer being reimbursed by Medicare for certain repeat procedures. They need to find new ways to change patient behaviors after major surgeries, explains Trybus. If it proves successful, SimCoach will expand the methodology to other hospitals.

By simulating potential health problems during recovery, such as what symptoms to monitor and when to call the doctor, we are able to help some of the sickest patients, she says. “We’re just trying to motivate them and present critical skills they can practice.”

“Good game design is good learning,” says Trybus. “The bottom line is it’s active learning. Players are making choices. If you don’t make choices, there’s no game and no effective learning.”

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Looking for a job? Pittsburgh’s got ‘em — more than 22,000 open positions across the 10-county region. Check out our powerful job search aggregator at ImaginePittsburgh.com/work.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

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Story by Leah Lizarondo

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the U.S. generated about 36 million tons of food waste in 2012. Only 5% of that was diverted from landfills or incinerators. Last month, Massachusetts banned commercial food waste, enforcing a redirection of that waste into composting, conversion or recycling.

Pennsylvania has no such ban. Coupled with the fact that we have some of the lowest landfill tipping fees in the region, our restaurants and food establishments have very little incentive to reroute food waste to better use.

Digest-o-Mat aims to change that with the first small-scale system that can transform food waste into energy.

Carnegie Mellon University architecture students Jacob Douenias and Rohan Rathod founded Digest-o-Mat as an offshoot of Douenias’ thesis that investigates the symbiotic relationship between microorganisms and architecture—how waste in a building can be harnessed to produce energy.

The project evolved into looking at the restaurant industry and servicing the small  and mid-sized restaurants that most commercial composting services cannot serve. This prompted the design of an on-site system that converts waste into fuel and liquid fertilizer or “compost tea.”

Digest-o-Mat is an end-to-end service that audits a restaurant’s needs, designs a system that is tailored to the restaurant and performs the install and maintenance. The restaurant can also either opt to use the fuel and fertilizer generated by the system or opt for Digest-o-Mat to resell it.

The company is piloting its first installation at Kevin Sousa’s yet-to-open Superior Motors in Braddock.

Working with Digest-o-Mat is consistent with the restaurant’s long term goals, according to Sousa. “Over the next couple of years, we would like for Superior Motors to be a zero-waste establishment. Having the ability to redirect 75 pounds a day of food waste from land fills is in line with that.”

A Digest-o-Mat starter system runs about $10,000 and comes with the digester, greenhouse and food waste shredder.

Douenias says that they are aiming to break ground at Superior Motors in February 2015. The company was recently awarded a $9,000 Sprout Fund grant, part of which covers the pilot project.

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Story by Laurie Bailey

Disney’s newest movie star hero, a fist-bumping, huggable marshmallow named Baymax, drew its inspiration from ongoing research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Soft Robotics and Bionics Lab. When the research grows up, it may become a real-life super hero to caregivers and those with disabilities.

Professor of robotics, Chris Atkeson, and assistant professor in the Robotics Institute and founder of the Soft Robotics and Bionics Lab, Yong-Lae Park, are developing a future application of soft robotics that may one day assist people with showering, dressing, eating and more. The softer robots may not only make a world of difference to patients, but they are apparently endearing to watch on the silver screen.

The first soft robotic arm was developed with Atkeson’s guidance by researcher Siddharth Sanan while he was a Ph.D. candidate at CMU. Sanan is now a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University.

Just how Sanan’s prototype became the stuff of movies is the best part of the story. His research caught the eye of “Big Hero 6” co-director Don Hall while he was visiting the Soft Robotics and Bionics Lab at CMU in 2011 in search of good ideas for his next project. “We find inspiration through our research trips, and it was our visit to CMU that was a game changer in our character design,” Hall says.

“I was really taken with Chris Atkeson’s level of passion,” says the co-director. “Our characters in the film are brilliant science students. We wanted to reflect the passion of all the scientists we met during our various research trips within our characters.”

Hall and his colleagues took with them the design elements that Disney artists integrated into Baymax’s “naïve, guileless nature. They were careful to remain mum about the scope of their film project throughout their time in Pittsburgh, says Atkeson.

Atkeson is credited in the movie that opens in theaters this weekend.

“It was a thrill to see our ideas flushed out in the movie,” he says, adding that the Disney team was spot on with the technology the CMU roboticists suggested to them three years ago. “As I said to co-director Don Hall at the (movie’s wrap party in Hollywood), ‘there is a big difference between a bag of air and a lovable character.”

The value of soft robotic technology cannot be understated, says Atkeson.“The problem with these ‘metal monsters,’ as I call them, is they’re big and heavy and they’re going to hurt you. My goal was to build a robot as lightweight as possible.

So CMU robotics wizards created a 3-layered, lightweight arm made of a carbon fiber skeleton, customized artificial pneumatic muscles and a skin made of polyurethane-based inflatable plastic, explains Park.

“The real novelty is the entire package, made of soft and rigid materials and its application,” he says.

Next, researchers plan to collaborate with CMU’s Soft Machines Lab to develop a new arm model that is more flexible and includes skin sensors to detect movement or contact. The Soft Machines Lab is also developing new methods for rapidly making these materials using 3D printing and other fabrication technologies.

“Imagine you can buy this robot and put it on your table and use it for your eating, brushing and combing,” says Park.

Atkeson also notes that to consider patients’ needs and use, his team has collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing for over 15 years.

The cost to make the soft robotic arm today would be about $10,000, says Atkeson. That number could come down to about $1,000, once they are mass produced, he adds. They are currently examining inexpensive ways to build the robots such as by melting, gluing or sewing fabrics and plastics.

“If we can sew robots, we’re much better off. It’s so simple it sounds crazy,” he says.