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Carnegie Mellon University makes robots easier to use with customizable system

With a name like Snake Monster, the latest success story from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute sounds more like an urban legend than a technological advancement. But the six-legged invention from CMU Professor Howie Choset marks a big step -- or, at least, a big spider-like crawl -- toward changing the way people build robots.

Completed in just six months, the Snake Monster, which was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), represents the kind of robot that can be created using a reconfigurable modular system. As opposed to traditional industrial robots, modular architecture allows users to easily customize the system to suit their needs, an ability Choset believes will make robots more accessible.

“We want to make it so that you don’t need a specialized industrial engineer with years of experience to go install and program this robot,” said Choset. “We want to have people who are just really good programmers installing robots.”

Previously, Choset and his lab spent years developing snake-like robots -- or snakebots -- that moved according to a careful coordination of repeated component joints. Due to their specific design, the robots were able to mimic natural movement, primarily the smooth undulation of snakes. They were agile enough to shimmy through pipes, which made them ideal for a number of applications, including urban search and rescue, archaeological exploration, and the inspection of power plants, refineries and sewers.

By taking that research and combining it with innovative new software and technology -- including a series elastic actuator, which uses sensors that help the robot feel and react to its environment -- they were able to envision the Snake Monster as a small, powerful robot that can navigate its surroundings. The system runs on Ethernet technology, making it easier to use by allowing designers to focus on modifying the robot without having to worry about using the right computer. Currently, Choset and his lab are building on the project's potential by working on modules such as force-sensing feet, wheels and tank-like treads, which could be used in the assembly of totally different robots.

Want to see more of this amazing robot? The Snake Monster will make its official debut this June at the DARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, Calif.
 

Who's hiring in PGH? Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Deeplocal and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. Hit us up on Twitter @popcitypgh if our job listings put you on the path to success.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has an immediate opening for a full-time Director of Planning. The chosen candidate will work closely with senior leaders of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the City of Pittsburgh, funders and Downtown stakeholders to carry out projects that support the creation of a vibrant and accessible Downtown for everyone. All application materials must be sent by Jan. 28, 2015.

The Western PA regional chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a national construction industry trade association, is seeking a full-time Director of Education and Workforce Development. The qualified candidate will oversee all workforce development programs, including apprenticeship, craft training, management training, and green technologies. Interested candidates must submit a cover letter, resume, salary history and expectations, and three references to President, Associated Builders and Contractors of Western PA, 2360 Venture Drive, Gibsonia, PA 15044 or to orpgum@abcwpa.org before 4 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2015.

Quantum Theatre is hiring a full-time technical director to serve as the primary team member responsible for each show’s maintenance in performance. 

The innovation studio Deeplocal has openings for multiple full-time positions, including a UX/interaction designer, a creative designer, a software engineer/web developer, and a technical producer/project manager.

Industrial Scientific, a leading provider of gas detection products and services, is hiring a full-time marketing communications specialist. Qualifications include a BS in marketing, public relations, journalism, communications or related field and a minimum three years of experience in business-to-business communications or marketing, including social media.

The Heinz History Center is hiring a Director for its Rauh Jewish History Program. Duties include collecting and preserving records, artifacts, and other collections of historical value that document the Jewish experience in western Pennsylvania. Requires a graduate degree in history or a related field, as well as knowledge of Jewish history. Please send resumes to Renee Falbo, Director of Human Resources, Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Check out last week's listings for more opportunities.

Who's hiring in PGH? IKM, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you select career opportunities in Pittsburgh. Employers, if you have a job opening or internship you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. Hit us up on Twitter @popcitypgh if our job listings put you on the path to success.

IKM, an established architecture, planning and interior design firm, is looking to fill two to three architect positions to work on mid-sized to large projects. Main qualifications include a professional degree in architecture, completion of all IDP and ARE requirements, and registration in Pennsylvania. The firm is also looking for a full-time architectural intern. 

Medical Science Associates (MSA), a diversified information management company, is hiring a senior level user experience designer for the research, development and production of an innovative medical application. Requires a relevant four-year degree or equivalent experience, and a minimum of four years' related experience with user interface design, application analysis or related position. 

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has an immediate opening for a part-time community outreach coordinator. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent experience and a minimum of two years of outreach, issue or fundraising campaign management, or similar professional organizing experience. 

The Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID), a public organization that works to strengthen and enhance the Central Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, is seeking a full-time marketing and communications coordinator. Requires a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or a related field with two to four years of relevant experience. Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, two writing samples, and three references by Feb. 4, 2015, to Executive Director Georgia Petropoulos at georgia@oaklandbid.org. 

Boyd Community Center, a nonprofit cultural, educational, and recreational space in O'Hara Township, needs a full-time marketing and development director for their Lauri Ann West Community Center, a new facility scheduled to open this year. The position requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years' leading marketing and development efforts for a nonprofit, membership-driven organization. Interested candidates should send resumes and cover letters to topmccomb@boydcommunitycenter.org. 

Direct Energy, a major energy and energy-related services provider, is seeking a full-time senior content strategist to manage content for the company website, blog, and social media channels. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communication, or related field and four years of experience in a digital content role. 

Carnegie Museum of Natural History is hiring a full-time director of marketing. Candidate must have a bachelor’s degree and at least seven years of increasingly responsible marketing experience, including supervising staff and budgets. 

Check out last week's listings for more opportunities.  

Project Eviive brings clean water and hope to Kenya

In Machakos County, a region located east of Nairobi, Kenya, unpredictable rainfall and drought leaves much of the rural population without clean water. Now one local nonprofit will work to provide access to the precious resource with the help of crowd-funding.

Project Eviive seeks to bring clean water solutions to people throughout the developing world, especially in Africa. The organization recently launched a Tilt campaign to raise $15,000 for their first effort, a program that will assist three Machakos County communities in the construction of earthen dams. The dams, which will create reservoirs to collect and store water throughout the long dry seasons, are expected to improve the lives of around 2,000 people by preventing the onset of famine and the spread of water-borne diseases.

“Crowd-funding works really well because it will get some start-up money for the nonprofit and allow us to actually start the Kenya project,” said Project Eviive Managing Director David Tye. “It’ll be the first step in a long series of steps.”

Tye -- who lived and worked in Africa for five years and maintains contacts in Nairobi -- believes that organizations should focus not on just completing projects, but finding ways to make them sustainable. To achieve this, Project Eviive will coordinate construction of the dams by enlisting the help of Machakos County residents and area technicians who can oversee the project directly on a day-to-day basis. Once established, the dams are expected to give the communities control over their own environment, as opposed to depending on outside assistance.

In their continuing mission to provide sustainable clean water solutions, Project Eviive plans to partner with Epiphany Solar Water Systems, a Pittsburgh-based company that develops solar water purification technology, for future projects. Tye hopes that Project Kenya will enable the organization to expand and serve other communities throughout Africa, and in places such as Haiti and the Middle East.

Who's hiring in PGH? MAYA Design, Point Park University and more!

The holidays are over, and for those looking for a new job, that means it's time to get back to business. Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a career opportunity to list, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "hiring" in the subject line. Let us know on Twitter @popcitypgh if we've helped you achieve your New Year's resolution of finding a new job.

The Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center (ENEC), an organization that helps East End community residents compete in today’s job market, is hiring a full-time employment coordinator. The multi-faceted position requires the ability to work in a fast-paced environment while maintaining organization and open communication with staff and the community. Areas of emphasis include youth ages 14 to 21, foster care youth, veterans, and community members with criminal backgrounds. Candidates must possess a Bachelor’s degree or at least three years of program management experience, a valid PA drivers license, proficiency in Microsoft office and database management, and security clearances. Please email resume and cover letter to employmentworks1@aol.com.

The Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University is looking for an assistant professor of dance. The tenure-track position starts Aug. 15, 2015, and requires an artist with expertise and experience teaching at the university level with a demonstrated commitment toward training young dancers for a diverse marketplace. Qualifications include a Master of Fine Arts in dance, choreography or a related terminal degree, a minimum of three years of university teaching experience and five years of professional dance experience. Interested candidates should submit a letter of application, CV, statement of teaching philosophy, list of three professional references with contact information, and samples of creative work via DVD or URL to: Rubén Graciani, Chair – Department of Dance, Conservatory of Performing Arts, Point Park University, 201 Wood Street, Suite 625 LH, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 or by e-mail to conservatory@pointpark.edu. If submitting your application by e-mail, please note that the subject line must state the position for which you are applying. Review of applications began on Jan. 5, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

MAYA Design, a leading design consultancy and innovation lab, is looking to fill two full-time positions. The lead designer demands someone who can collaboratively lead interdisciplinary teams, projects and client relationships, and feel at ease strategically advising clients and building relationships that foster change for individuals and organizations. The Downtown firm is also looking for a systems administrator to participate in strategy for application, desktop, network, and server support. Requirements include a Bachelor's degree in a computer-related field or equivalent experience, five years of experience supporting IT systems and users in a production environment, and strong Linux/UNIX administration and support experience.

Louis Plung & Company, a well-established regional public accounting firm in downtown Pittsburgh, is seeking a full-time marketing coordinator. The role requires a dynamic, creative professional who will assist in the development and execution of marketing-related projects and initiatives. Responsibilities include maintaining and updating the firm's blog, e-newsletter, website, and social media presence. Candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or a related field, and two to four years of related professional experience in a similar setting.

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? YWCA, Neighborhood Allies, Mattress Factory and more

If all you want for Christmas is a shiny new job, here are some possibilities for you. Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a career opportunity to list, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "hiring" in the subject line. Let us know on Twitter @popcitypgh if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams.

YWCA of Pittsburgh, an organization dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, is hiring for a number of full-time positions. The organization is looking for an eligibility coordinator to counsel clients and determine which public assistance programs they might be eligible for; a permanent housing coordinator to help clients find stable living situations and provide monitoring of living situations; a Women's Resource Center director to oversee the day-to-day operations of the center and manage its staff; a Women's Resource specialist to manage department databases, financial assistance funds, and internal operations, including the department manual, trainings, and professional development; director of Youth Services and STEM Education to manage an ongoing comprehensive science, technology, engineering, math and leadership program for middle and high school girls; and a STEM coordinator to ensure quality program/project development and implementation in the areas of community outreach, recruitment, enrollment, data collection and more.

The Mattress Factory, an art installation space on the North Side, is looking for an institutional giving manager with demonstrated fundraising abilities and a proven track record of securing over $500,000 in grant funding annually among other experience.

Neighborhood Allies, a community development intermediary, is looking for a program manager for lending and financial services to provide general management and oversight of all organizational investment activity, including origination, documentation, risk analysis and monitoring. The hire would work with community development partners to assess feasibility, develop realistic financing strategies, and access public subsidies and conventional financing in order to assure successful project execution and identify and develop sound real estate deals that will match specific investment targets for lending, among other responsibilities. 

Hospital Albert Schweitzer, a Pittsburgh-based hospital dedicated to serving the needs of people in Haiti, is hiring a major gifts officer responsible for stewardship of existing major donors and for identifying and cultivating new major gift prospects. Major gifts are US $50,000 and greater. This position reports to the director of development, and works closely with an active board of directors.

Rebuilding Together, an organization that repairs and renovates the homes of low-income elderly homeowners, military veterans, and individuals with permanent physical disabilities, is looking for a program manager. This position is responsible for coordinating the delivery of Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh’s construction programs through the effective scheduling and allocation of construction team staff, professional contractors, and volunteers.

And if these jobs aren't enough, check out last week's listings for more opportunities.                 

Who's hiring in PGH? Sprout Fund, Mizrahi Inc., Grow Pittsburgh and more

Hope you had a nice holiday break, but it's time to get back on the job hunt. Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a career opportunity to list, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "hiring" in the subject line. Let us know on Twitter @popcitypgh if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams.

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in West Mifflin is in need of a full-time, year-round physics instructor. Located at the Allegheny County Airport, PIA grants its students an associate degree in specialized technology along with FAA and FCC credentials. The ideal instructor will have a bachelor’s degree in physics or relevant subject area with at least three years of work experience in the applicable subject area or a bachelor’s degree in education with physics or other relevant secondary-level teaching certification. Interested candidates can send their resume to gnull@pia.edu

Downtown marketing communications and design firm Mizrahi, Inc. is seeking a web and print graphic designer with at least five years of professional experience, a strong portfolio, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts or associate degree in graphic design or a related field. The ideal candidate will have project management experience and excellent Adobe Creative Suite skills. Knowledge of and experience with HTML and CSS is always a plus. The firm is also looking for a web developer with a minimum of five years of related work experience and strong web development skills. Applicants should have a high level of competency with HTML, CSS, Responsive Web Design, Twitter Bootstrap, JavaScript/jQuery, PHP, MySQL, WordPress, content management systems and all applicable web development software. Applicants should send a resume along with relevant samples of past work to careers@mizrahionline.com

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a statewide nonprofit environmental organization, is seeking a controller to lead all aspects of accounting, financial reporting, and budgeting. The hire will be responsible for financial reporting duties, leading the budget preparation processes, and coordinating the annual financial statements’ audit and IRS Form 990 preparation. 
The job will require some travel. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field and three to five years of experience in diverse aspects of an organization’s accounting, reporting, cost allocations, and budgeting processes. Experience with nonprofit finance and a CPA is preferred, but not required. The organization is also hiring a land water and trails specialist to support PEC’s statewide trail efforts. This position focuses on the Power of 32+ regional trail network, which is an effort to facilitate completion of a five-state, 1,600-mile network of shared-use trails, and the PA Water Trails Program, a statewide partnership that encourages the development of sustainable water trails. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor's degree in environmental studies, outdoor recreation, natural resource management, urban studies, communications, business, tourism and hospitality, or a related field and at least five years of project management experience.

Grow Pittsburgh, an urban agriculture nonprofit, is hiring a full-time community garden coordinator with an interest in community-based agriculture. The organization is also looking for a part-time office and membership manager to greet visitors and perform general administrative tasks. Finally, Grow Pittsburgh is hiring an urban farm apprenticeship coordinator to be responsible for the day-to-day activities of Grow Pittsburgh’s Urban Farm Apprenticeship (UFA) Program, a 10-month intensive training program that graduates aspiring new farmers annually from three urban farm sites. The UFA coordinator, in partnership with the director of educational programming, director of agricultural production, and the Braddock Farm and Frick and Shiloh Farm manager, will also be responsible for the planning, development and implementation of a long-term plan for the UFA program. In addition, the coordinator will be responsible for maintaining relationships with key food and agriculture partners in the region. 

The Sprout Fund, an organization that provides small grants to community building projects, is looking for a communications associate with excellent computer skills; familiarity and experience with a Microsoft Windows/Office work environment; working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite applications including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign; and demonstrated experience using digital content management systems. The ideal candidate will have prior experience managing organizational social media accounts and engaging with online communities as well as exceptional writing and editing skills, including the capacity to develop compelling story ideas within thematic and programmatic guidelines, keen attention to grammatical detail, and proofreading and copy editing experience.

And if these jobs aren't enough, check out last week's listings for more opportunities.

Who's hiring in PGH? MedRespond, Point Park University and more

Days are getting shorter, but don't let that discourage you from finding the job of your dreams. Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a job opportunity to list, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "hiring" in the subject line. Let us know on Twitter @popcitypgh if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams.

This week, MedRespond is looking for scriptwriters to author educational video scripts based on interviews with medical professionals. A complete video may last four hours and contain 200 conversations. Turnaround time is expected to be quick and medical military experience is a plus. Submit resume and writing sample to careers@medrespond.com.

The Kelly Strayhorn Theater is hiring for a number of positions, including development director, executive assistant/project manager, front of house staff and operations associate and program manager. Experience varies depending upon position, which range from entry level to high level, with both part-time and full-time opportunities. Located in East Liberty, the theater provides a variety of cultural programing throughout the year.

THE PROGRAM for Offenders, a nonprofit organization that provides residential alternatives to incarceration, inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment and a range of support services to offenders, is looking for therapists to work on a full-time or part-time basis with the population it serves. Applicants should have a master's degree in a related field and experience providing behavioral health treatment. Applicants must be able to obtain current FBI, Act 33 and 34 clearances. Clinicians approved by the Pennsylvania Certification Board are preferred.

Point Park University is hiring a full-time tenure-track Assistant Professor of Special Education to teach courses in both the undergraduate and graduate program. The college is also looking for a full-time tenure-track Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Technology to work with undergraduates and an Assistant Professor of Information Technology for a full-time tenure-track position teaching both graduates and undergraduates. Administrative positions and two adjunct positions in the humanities are also available. 

A number of positions are available at Chatham University, including Archivist & Public Services Librarian and various administrative support positions. However, since dates for the postings are not listed, call the university before applying. Who knows, you may even learn about as-yet unlisted position. 

And, if this week's job opportunities aren't enough, check out what we posted last week.

Machines--They're Just Like Us! Robots take over Wood Street Galleries

How would it feel to see a robot beg? Would you give it a few dollars, or just walk away? These are questions curator Murray Horne hopes to answer in the exhibit “La Cour des Miracles,” on view at the Wood Street Galleries July 11 through September 7. 
 
The art show features robots in various states of distress, interacting with and soliciting empathy from visitors.
 
“The robots are in these contorted gestures that are humanistic, sort of the way a dancer might evoke emotions using a certain gesture,” Horne says, “but it’s interesting that it’s a robot that’s connecting with us, not a human.”
 
Visitors to the show will encounter six different robo-characters, created by artists Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers: “The Begging Machine,” “The Convulsive Machine,” “The Crawling Machine,” “The Harassing Machine,” “The Heretic Machine,” and “The Limping Machine.” The robots lack emotions and none are truly more sympathetic than others. But, if a robot could fake an ailment to gain pity, would it in some way be more real, because it would seem to have intention? Artists in “La Cour des Miracles” are exploring this idea through their work.
 
The exhibition’s title and subject matter draws on historical fraud that took place in Parisian slums in the 1600s, when beggars in areas called “cour des miracles” or “court of miracles” faked ailments to gain alms, only to rise from their crutches and walk away, miraculously healed. By pointing to acts of human fakery which we may at times believe, the exhibition suggests faked human behavior and “real” robotic behavior—which is always fake—may not be so different.
 
Usually, machines are created to make humans more comfortable and present us with our best qualities, they enable luxurious lifestyles or provide us with a false sense of security—“that’s why I like Siri, she always responds in the affirmative,” Horne says of the mechanized helpful voice inside the iPhone. The artist’s robots may not be as likeable, but they will certainly be as human.
 
In addition to the six robots, Vorn has created “DSM-VI,” a robot that mimics the behaviors of a person suffering from mental health problems. Horne says the entire installation is presented as a labyrinth, reminiscent of the cages of a zoo or the corridors of an insane asylum.
 
“I think it’s one of the most intense visual arts experience you can have,” Horne says, “there will be robots, lights and fog machines all at the same time.”

Source: Wood Street Galleries

Pittsburgh 2030 District is two years ahead of schedule for energy reductions in Downtown Pittsburgh

With the goal of reducing Downtown Pittsburgh’s impact on the environment by 2030, the Green Building Alliance launched the Pittsburgh 2030 District in 2012. The initiative was inspired by the Architecture 2030 Challenge, a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization established in response to the climate change crisis by architect Edward Mazria in 2002. Their mission is to rapidly transform the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate and energy crises. The Challenge calls for 50 percent reductions in building energy use, water use and transportation emissions by 2030, with incremental goals along the way.  

Last week, the Green Building Alliance released the Pittsburgh 2030 District’s inaugural progress report.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District has become the fastest growing 2030 District in the country and is already two years ahead of schedule for energy reductions, according to the Green Building Alliance. It originally sought to achieve a 10 percent reduction by 2015, but had already attained an 11.6 percent reduction by the end of 2013. The energy reductions reached thus far represent the equivalent of removing 7,748 homes from the grid, according to the Green Building Alliance.

“This report confirms that we’ve reached a dynamic moment in our region’s history,” says Sean Luther, senior director of the Pittsburgh 2030 District. “Through the Pittsburgh 2030 District, we will fundamentally alter the way we view our energy distribution system.”

Green Building Alliance will continue to work with property partners to achieve energy reductions while simultaneously working to recruit additional properties in order to reach its goal of 100 percent participation. Participation in the program has already grown to almost 40 property owners and managers, representing 109 buildings and 35 million square feet of real estate. 

Reducing energy demand is the key to maximizing the utilization of existing power plants, eliminating the need for new coal- or gas-fired plants and related infrastructure costs. Reduction in energy consumption also paves the way for greater use of renewable energy sources and dramatically improves air quality, according to the report. On a related note, the District is working with the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh to develop and pilot an indoor air quality metric for possible implementation across the country. 

In addition to reducing energy demand, the initiative plans to place an increased focus on water use reduction, which is one key to solving the region’s sewage infrastructure crisis.

“Substantially reducing water consumption in individual buildings has a direct correlation to increased capacity in the combined sewer system, allowing for better handling of major storm water events and increased reliability of potential future “green infrastructure” investments,” according to the report.

The Green Building Alliance attributes the success of the Pittsburgh 2030 District thus far to its property partners, community and resource partners and funders, as well as the 2030 District sponsors: The Efficiency Network; The ECB Network, Powered by Bayer; Stantec; and Scott Electric, GE Lighting. 

Writer: Amanda Leff Ritchie
Sources: Green Building Alliance, architecture2030.org, Sean Luther, and Leslie Montgomery

Pittsburgh celebrates National Robotics Week

April 5-13 marks the fifth annual National Robotics Week, which celebrates the United States as a leader in robotics technology development and educates the public about how robotics technology impacts society. With Pittsburgh playing a major role in robotics innovation, it’s no surprise that there are lots of robotics events taking place throughout the city this week.

Robo Day in Pittsburgh
On April 9, AlphaLab Gear will host a robotics week event in its East Liberty facility that will feature speakers from 4moms, MYRIA RAS, and Girls of Steel FIRST Team, and demos by two start-ups in the accelerators current class, IdentifIED and Rapid TPC.

Dick Zhang,  cofounder and CEO of IdentifIED, says, “Industrial businesses, in oil and gas, agriculture, mining, or safety, all require massive amounts of data to increase their outputs, decrease their inputs and operate safely. Unfortunately they don't have access to this information because aerial sensing is extremely expensive, time-consuming and requires a lot of special equipment. We are an aerial data and sensing company focused on delivering this information through small unmanned aerial vehicles.” 

The IdentfIED demo will feature a small quadrotor, a multirotor helicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors, that will fly around the office among attendees and a video reel highlighting the company’s vehicles in action.

International Space Apps Challenge
The International Space Apps Challenge, led by NASA, government collaborators and more than 100 organizations around the world, is a two-day hackathon that embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and in space. The Pittsburgh event will take place at the TechShop in Bakery Square on April 12-13.

“The International Space Apps Challenge lets people in Pittsburgh collaborate with others around the globe using NASA open source data to build and program robotic solutions to global problems,” says Richard Behana, executive director at Space Challenges, Inc., the host of the Pittsburgh Space Apps Challenge. “Challenges range from creating a robot with salvaged parts controlled from your smartphone to creating a simplified kid friendly rover using a single-board microcontroller known as an Arduino.”

Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University Celebrates National Robotics Week
The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University will celebrate National Robotics Week on April 10 with the Teruko Yata Memorial Lecture with special guest speaker Marc Raibert, chief technical officer & director of Boston Dynamics followed by a satellite screening and performance of the Robot Film Festival. The celebration will continue on April 11 with project demonstrations, lab tours, and the annual Mobot (mobile robot) races. (RSVP required to attend.)

The Secret Life of Robots
Artist Toby Atticus features a dozen scenes of robots in everyday scenarios in The Secret Life of Robots exhibition. Robots are constructed from vintage thermoses, picnic coolers, and various found objects, and some include animatronic elements that control eyes and accent lights. Peaking into the sometimes mundane daily activities of a typical robot through various stages of their lifespan reveals a glimpse of our lives through the looking-glass. The free and public Pittsburgh Cultural Trust exhibition is on display through April 27 at SPACE art gallery, located at 812 Liberty Avenue. See website for gallery hours.

Writer: Amanda Leff Ritchie
Sources: nationalroboticsweek.org, AlphaLab, Dick Zhang, spaceappschallenge.org, and Richard Behana

Pittsburgh marketing news roundup--acquisitions, mergers and expansions

And now the news on Pittsburgh marketing companies. First up, Campos Inc.
 
A.J. Drexler, former president and lead strategist at Big Picture Communications, has assumed ownership and management of Campos Inc., a firm founded and run by Yvonne Campos for more than 28 years.
 
The Campos name will remain. Drexler, a champion of well-executed market research, says Campos will continue to move in the direction of marketing strategy, research and data analytics. In addition, Drexler acquired Direct Feedback, a former competitor with offices in Station Square, and has integrated the firm into Campos. Direct Feedback specialized in qualitative research and focus group work.
 
Since the acquisition, Campos has hired four people, three from Direct Feedback and a new marketing strategist. Drexler’s message to the rest of the agency community? Campos is not in the business to compete with other agencies.
 
“We will do the strategy work up to a creative brief, but will go no further,” she says. “We are all about marketing planning and strategy all the time.
 
Campos will remain at the firm for another three years. “Our goal has always been to find the story, ask what’s the impact,” she says. “It’s not data for data’s sake but how we can use it to make better decisions.”
 
Portfolio Creative, a creative staffing and recruitment firm based in Columbus, Ohio, has opened an office in East Liberty. The firm specializes in recruiting creative talent for marketing firms, both full-time and freelance work for long and short term projects.
 
Not to be confused as an advertising or design firm, Portfolio Creative instead focuses on locating strong talent in the areas of marketing, creative advertising and graphic design, says Kristen Harris, COO and co-founder.
 
“Pittsburgh has a huge creative community,” she says. “We looked at a lot of cities and saw so much activity here. No one here is doing what we do, helping creative people to find one another.”
 
Founded in 2005, Portfolio Creative has been an Inc. 500|5000 fastest growing firm for the past four years. The office is located at 6101 Penn Avenue and is managed by Katie Speers.

Pittsburgh-based advertising agency Garrison Hughes moved this month into new 7,200 square foot offices the week that will double the firm’s original footprint. The new digs are on the second floor of the First & Market Building in downtown Pittsburgh. Employment has grown to 23.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Campos + Portfolio Creative

PodCamp Pittsburgh, the social media survival fest, returns Oct. 5th

“The beauty of PodCamp Pittsburgh is no two years are ever the same,” says Norm Huelsman, the organizer of the region’s favorite social media unconference, which returns on Oct. 5th.
 
PodCamp, like the social media scene, continues to evolve with the times, and this year is no different, he says. While it began as a forum for podcasting, PodCamp has grown into a study of information sharing online and the effects and effectiveness of the messages.
 
“This year we’ll have a variety of sessions designed to give you a local source of creative inspiration,” says Huelsman. “It covers all the social media bases. How do you stay creative, innovative and inspired while creating content.”
 
PodCamp Pittsburgh 8 will be rolled into one day this year, making for a schedule packed with great seminars on Saturday, he adds. No one person will headline. Instead, many small business owners and in-house professionals will present the latest tools and techniques.
 
“By whittling it down, we think people will get more out of it,” says Huelsman.

Small Business Toolkit will cover some of the best tools available to promote businesses. Some of the other seminars include Visualizing Twitter in Real Time, Topography in Web Design, Storytelling and Blog to Book.

“We’re trying to tell good Pittsburgh stories of the people who are doing it and doing it well,” he says.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 8 is free, but registration is required. A VIP pass for $25 gets you a tee and swag bag.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Norm Huelsman, PodCamp Pittsburgh 8

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Google Pittsburgh announces major expansion and more

Each week Pop City reports on hiring and job news in the region.
 
Google Pittsburgh is expanding again and will hire between 100 to 200 people in the coming year. Google Inc. announced this week it is leasing another 50,000 square feet of office space in Bakery Square and will begin aggressively hiring for 75 open positions, many in the shopping and commerce division.
 
Google Pittsburgh has grown rapidly since establishing a presence in Pittsburgh, having hired 50 people in the last year alone. Positions include software engineers as well support staff.

Across the way, a new restaurant called Social will be holding open interviews on Thursday, June 13th, from 12-8 pm for all positions: waitstaff, cooks, hosts, managers. Social is located at 6425 Penn Avenue.

ThoughtForm, a communication design consultancy working at the crossroads of business strategy and creative thinking, is currently recruiting people for six permanent positions and one contract position. The positions include designers, developers, writers, an image specialist and project manager.

The Congress of Neighboring Communities, better known as CONNECT, is hiring an outreach and program coordinator. CONNECT, part of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, works to bring the region’s urban municipalities together to enhance and deliver important public services.
 
MARC USA is hiring an advertising account executive and looking for a PR/social media apprentice. The ad exec/ new business development specialist will focus on many aspects of the agencies new business program.  The PR/social media apprentice is a paid position for a college grad in advertising, marketing business or a related degree.

Pop City is looking for a part-time person to size and load photos in Pop City's content management system every week. Deadline day is every Tuesday so availability is important on Mondays and early Tuesdays. Position requires approximately 7 hours every week. Previous online experience with photos is very helpful. Photoshop skills are a necessity.  Must have photo software.  For more info email info@popcitymedia.com

Quantum Theatre is looking for a part-time consultant to raise brand awareness and deliver traffic to the theatre’s website, social media destinations, live productions, and special events. 
 
KDKA-TV is looking for a commercial videographer with skills as a sound mixer and lighting director, able to support all studio and set productions in preparation for productions.
 
Think Through Learning is hiring a senior editor, K-2. The position is responsible for the production of web-based mathematics and instructional materials for elementary-aged students.
 
A.C. Coy Company in Pittsburgh is hiring a technical writer for its technical writing department to work on a complete overhaul of their documentation and must have experience with Doc-to-help and authoring tools.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is opening a customer service center in Greentree that will create 150 jobs. The servicing operation offers services and counseling to student loan borrowers. Many of the positions are related to loan counseling and human resources. A recruitment event will be held on June 25. 

Still looking for the perfect job? The Allegheny Conference this week unveiled a re-imagined Imagine Pittsburgh website, a gateway to more than 30,000 jobs in the region. New features take the site beyond that of a mere job board, including  stories about the people who work and live in our region.
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City. Sign up for Pop City on our homepage and receive hiring news each week.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Evive Station takes on the single-use bottling business with kiosks across the region

Single-use water bottles might be most wasteful invention of all time. At last, they are getting their due.
 
South Side-based startup Evive Station is waging a campaign against waste with a network of kiosks that not only encourage the recycling of water bottles, but take a customized marketing approach to refilling them.
 
With design help from Pittsburgh-based Daedalus, the startup developed one of the world’s first on-site bottle cleaning and filtered water dispensing services. Unlike other approaches, Evive sells a BPA-free water bottle for $10, entitling the user to free cleaning and water refill for the life of bottle.
 
And the whole process takes less than one minute, says Tom Petrini, Evive founder.
 
The first Evive Stations appeared on the campus of West Virginia University last April. The kiosks have since expanded to Pittsburgh locations, including American Eagle and the campus of CMU. Evive plans to locate kiosks on Pitt's campus this fall.
 
Americans buy 50 million single use water bottles each year; 40 million wind up unrecycled in a landfill, notes Petrini. “It’s really less about the water bottle and more about the reusability and convenience of the reusable bottle.”
 
Evive is taking the idea one novel step further. Each bottle has an embedded RFID tag in it, similar to an EZ Pass, which enables the station to identify each customer. This customized approach means Evive can tailor the content on the screen for each customer and increase profitability.
 
So while you are waiting for your bottle to sanitize and refill with UV-treated municipal water, users may view benefits and deals that might appeal to them, such as a special offer on a kayaking trip.
 
"We are really blown away by the response we’re getting to this," says Lacy Caric, business developer for Evive. “People enjoy interacting at the station and learning about local businesses. The user experience has been very positive.”
 
Evive Station currently employs 11 and plans to expand in the coming year to multiple locations across the state, including hospitals, resorts, fitness centers, says Petrini.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
SourceL Tom Petrini, Evive Station
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