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Pittsburgh Fringe Festival receives catalytic Sprout Seed Award

Next month, Pittsburgh will kick off its inaugural Fringe Festival, modeled after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is the largest arts festival in the world. The Pittsburgh theater arts festival recently announced it received a Sprout Seed Award  help fund 24 theatrical performances in various Shadyside venues this May.
 
Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, led by its founder and executive director Dan Stiker, supports adventurous and exploratory performing artists by presenting their uncensored artistic expression to equally adventurous audiences. In addition to performances, the Fringe Festival will facilitate continuing education, workshops, discussions and forums. 

“I think Pittsburgh has a great arts community, and the theater community is one aspect of that,” says Stiker. “I think interesting theater is just starting to be supported in Pittsburgh. This is just the right time for the city to have its own Fringe Festival.”

Stiker’s interest in organizing Fringe stems from his theater background in New York City, where he performed in the NYC Fringe Festival and was in a company that did a lot of experimental theater. Stiker also has a background in theater management, and the management strength of the collective Fringe Festival team he's assembled helped attract The Sprout Fund's support. 

“The Seed Award is The Sprout Fund’s catalytic funding program for community innovation projects, and we are pleased to be able to support Pittsburgh's first organized Fringe Festival with a $7,500 grant,” says Mac Howison, Senior Program Officer for Catalytic Funding at The Sprout Fund. “The Sprout Fund has been hearing about the need for a Fringe Festival for years from the Pittsburgh theater community.  We're happy to be able to support Dan Stiker’s project, which highlights community partnerships and supportive collaboration among businesses, city officials and the performing arts companies making it happen, through the launch this spring and then hopefully as an annual event.”
 
The Seed Award Fund for Community Innovation offers grants to support, celebrate and showcase the initiatives of creative people in the greater Pittsburgh region with the cumulative power to create a critical mass of positive change. Seed Award projects are innovative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by the community, and inspire a diverse group of participants to be more active, involved and civically-engaged.
 
Since 2001, Sprout Seed Awards have supported hundreds of dynamic local innovators and exciting community projects making an impact in the Pittsburgh area. Sprout provides critical financial support for projects and programs in the early stages of development—when just a small amount of investment has the potential to yield big results in the community.

"Sprout understands that Pittsburgh Fringe can be a catalyst for enhancing the performing arts community in Pittsburgh and we are grateful for their support," says Stiker.
 
Check out the 2014 Fringe lineup and purchase tickets at pghfringe.org.

Writer: Amanda Leff Ritchie
Sources: Dan Stiker and Mac Howison

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

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

The 2013 Data Award winners included a few surprises and a surreal atmosphere

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 5th Annual Design, Art and Technology (DATA) Awards celebrated, as it does each year, the intersection of art and technology design with a lineup of the region’s most creative startups.
 
This year's event gave off a surreal glow, although maybe it was the fog machine and the light filtering through the stained glass windows into The Priory’s Grand Hall on the Northside.
 
“It’s a great event for showcasing innovations with an art twist and sharing it with a wider audience,” said Paul Fireman of Fireman Creative whose firm took away a DATA in the Media Arts category.

“There were a lot of companies this year that I hadn’t heard of and that's a good thing because it means the group of participating companies is growing.” 
 
New this year was an interactive element that allowed the public to vote and determine the winners, along with a jury of experts.
 
The public voting was an important piece, said Audrey Russo, president of PTC, giving the artistic and creative communities a voice in the process.
 
“We are continually pleased with the breadth and number of individuals, and organizations, that actively participated,” said Russo. "I believe this space serves as the preamble to an imminent, seismic change in skill development and education.  Plus, we always have a ton of fun supporting those who build and execute big ideas.” 

The 2013 winners were:
 
i-CON: Apps & Information Architecture Award – Highmark + United Concordia: Chomper Chums

Next Generation: Kids & Creative Technology Award – The Center for Creativity: TransformED

Maker: Design & Art Award – Teletrix: Radiation Training Simulators

Media Arts: Interactive + Multimedia Award – Fireman Creative: Ricky’s Dream Trip
 
Joystick: Gaming Award – Schell Games + Yale University: PlayForward

Student Award – Carnegie Mellon University: Floria

People’s Choice Award – WQED Multimedia + SLB Radio Productions: iQ Kids Radio

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PTC

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Bayer Material Science, Phipps, Kelly Strayhorn and more...

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company hiring news.

Phipps Conservatory in Oakland is hiring for four full-time positions: finance administrative assistant, retail/ guest services management, building maintenance technician and a heavy custodial laborer. In addition, two part-time jobs and two internships are available: event assistant, guest service associate and a studio intern and pest-management intern.

Kelly Strayhorn Theatre is hiring a production assistant, a part-time position (25 hours a week) to assist the production manager in coordinating and executing a number of live events. The theatre provides provocative theatre that attracts local, national and international productions.
 
Expedient Data Centers in Pittsburgh is looking for an application engineer to join Pittsburgh’s team of four developers to work with the latest open-source projects that help companies manage everything from their energy usage to their operating system.
 
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is seeking a foundation & grants coordinator. This full time position involves research and successful funding of foundation and government proposals for both capital and programmatic projects as well as corporate sponsorships for various exhibits and projects throughout the Zoo. 

Monroeville-based Chorus Call, working in the audio and video conferencing space, is hiring a software engineer with relevant IT experience.
 
Bayer Material Science, a leading producer of polymers and high-performance plastics, is hiring a marketing communications manager. A B.S. in a technical or business related field and 7-10 years of experience is required.
 
MarketSpace Communications in Cranberry is hiring a PR & Social Media Intern. The ideal candidate will have 3-5 years of experience and a degree in communications.
 
Attention all those seeking an entry-level job or internship with a computer science or engineering background. Network with area companies at Tech Connect, an informal recruiting event at Pitt’s William Pitt Union in the ballroom on the main floor from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 28th.

In other job related news, a Neighborhood Employment Center has opened to help Northside residents write and polish resumes and find jobs. The center is open 5 days a week, from 12-4:30 p.m. on Mondays and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and offers many free job-seeking services.

Have hiring news? Email Pop City and include a job description and career link.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Looking good Pittsburgh. PittsburghTODAY report highlights the state of the region

PittsburghTODAY released its 2013 Today & Tomorrow report and the news across many sectors is enlightening.
 
With the economic recovery still underway in much of the country, Pittsburgh is the only benchmark region out of 15 that has experienced job growth and housing price appreciation. In addition, the labor force is at an all-time high and young people are returning and staying in the region.
 
Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the most affordable places for moderate-income families to live. A Brookings Institution study says so too, listing Pittsburgh as one of three cities in the U.S. to have recovered from the deep recession that began in 2007.
 
The region, however, has work to do in several areas, including transportation, the environment and issues pertaining to diversity, particularly in helping African Americans in the region to achieve the same quality of life as whites.
 
Among the highlights:
 
Population: It has been official but bares repeating: the region is attaining and attracting young talent. The region’s population of 20- to 34- year-olds grew by 7% over the last five years and is expected to grow another 8% in 2020. Three decades earlier the region was losing more than 50,000 people than it was attracting, mostly young adults.
 
Jobs: Jobs grew by a non-seasonably adjusted 1.7 percent in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from November 2007 to November 2012. Certainly not robust, but it was better than any of the Pittsburgh TODAY benchmark regions. Pittsburgh was the only region to post job growth over that period.
 
Tourism: Visitors to Southwestern Pennsylvania pumped $8.1 billion into the local economy in lodging, recreation, retail, food and beverage, transportation and other spending during 2011,the latest year the full data was reported. This is a 9.6% increase over 2010.

Housing: Pittsburgh was the only region in which the 5-year housing prices rose from 2007-2012.
 
Environment: While fine particle pollution is slowly decreasing, and met federal air quality standards for the first time in 2011 since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, smog and sewage spills and the health of our rivers remains an issue.
 
Fracking: Across the region, a survey shows that far more residents are convinced of the economic potential of the Marcellus Shale gas industry than are against drilling for it. More than 70% of those surveyed believe that gas drilling is boosting the local economy.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PittsburghTODAY

TechShop opening in Bakery Square, a playground for Pittsburgh entrepreneurs

If the smell of sawdust and the hum of a milling machine are calling your inner entrepreneur, TechShop may be in your future.
 
The Menlo Park company is opening its seventh workshop studio in the country in early March in Bakery Square, across from Google’s office.
 
The 16,000 square-foot space is shaping up to be a lively and inviting one, splashed with color and tall windows that give curious shoppers a peek within. TechShop is a membership studio, offering sophisticated tools and machinery to make products and prototypes, everything from 3D printers to laser cutters and machines for textiles and quilt making.
 
“We have all the tools you need to make just about anything on the planet,” says Mark Hatch, CEO, who was in town last week giving tours of the emerging studio. “We want to make sure any maker has access to a facility like ours.” 
 
The idea for the creation of nationwide workshops that encourage budding master crafters emerged from Richard Florida’s theory of creative class cities, says Hatch.
 
“We do a complete analysis of where creatives in the city live and lay it against the city’s grid, looking for retail locations with a flexible landlord,” he says. “Most of our neighborhoods (where TechShops are located) have a technology bent.”
 
In addition to gaining access to equipment for a monthly fee ($100 a month), TechShop will offer classes and training (such as how to launch a kickstarter campaign) and opportunities to nonprofits.
 
The studio already has its success stories. Hatch recounts how Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, designed and made his first Square at the Oakland TechShop, the small, plastic piece that allows smartphone users to swipe credit cards.
 
The Pittsburgh TechShop was supported through an investment partnership with DARPA and the Dept. of Veteran Affairs. The collaboration gives veterans across the country a free one-year membership to the nearest Tech Shop.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Mark Hatch, TechShop

Image: Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop in Pittsburgh

2013 Carnegie Science Awards recognizes outstanding innovators in the region

The 2013 Carnegie Science Awards were announced this week, an illustrious list of educators, researchers and business leaders working to improve the lives of others. The awards celebrate the accomplishments of individuals working in the fields of science, technology and education in Western Pennsylvania.
 
The winners include:   
 
The ExOne Company’s David Burns, Advanced Manufacturing Award 
Burns was recognized for positioning this promising North Huntingdon company as a leader in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. ExOne recently announced a public offering.
 
Edward Argetsinger, Jonathan Stinson, Paul Turner, Paul Jablonski, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Advanced Materials Award NETL assisted in the design of a new alloy for coronary stents used by physicians to open blocked or restricted arteries.

Nancy Minshew, University of Pittsburgh, Catalyst Award
As the head of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research, Minshew has extensively studied autism and applied the findings to practice and public policy. Her work has led to the region’s recognition as a world-class center for autism research.

Tracy Cui, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, Emerging Female Scientist Award Cui is researching smart biomaterials for neural implants and neural tissue engineering.

Raul Valdes-Perez, Jerome Pesenti, Vivisimo, Entrepreneur Award
The Squirrel Hill-based company, recently acquired by IBM, has taken an untraditional and creative approach in helping companies and governments discover, analyze and navigate large volumes of data.

Bob Enick, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, Environmental Award
Working in collaboration with a GE Global Research Team, Enick has developed a unique method of capturing carbon dioxide from the stack of coal-fired power plants, a technique that may cost far less than current technologies.

Patrick Daly, Cohera Medical, Start-Up Entrepreneur Award
As president and CEO of this promising Pittsburgh startup that grew out of research conducted at Pitt, Daly is helping to move the company’s first product, TissuGlu, into the market. The adhesive is designed to reduce the need for surgical drains in plastic surgery procedures and speed healing time.
 
David Vorp, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and NETL-RU, Life Sciences Award Dr. Vorp's work on aortic aneurysms has changed the way clinicians view this disease and research on vein graft modification may one day change arterial bypass surgeries.
 
Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay, Mickey McManus of MAYA Design, Science Communicator
MAYA is helping the world to think more scientifically about design through informational films and interactive websites as well as the book, "Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology."
 
Check out the complete list of 2013 Carnegie Science Award winners.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Award recipients Dr. Robert Enick and Dr. Tracy Cui, courtesy of Carnegie Science Center 

2012 was a good year for VC growth in Pittsburgh despite a nationwide decline

Venture capital investment across the region continued to climb steadily in 2012 with 79 deals that totaled $168.97 million, a 7.9% increase over 2011 when $156.53 million was raised and spread over 55 deals. 

The news in Pittsburgh was a bright spot; nationally VC figures declined by 10 percent from the prior year. All figures are from the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters.

“We’re bucking a trend here in Pittsburgh which is very positive,” noted Gary Glausser who joined Innovation Works this month as Chief Investment Officer.

A longtime venture capitalist in the local community, Glausser was with South Side-based Birchmere Ventures for 13 years. He most recently handled alternative investments for the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, a total portfolio of $7 billion. He is also a member of the IW Board of Directors.

Among the highlights of the MoneyTree report for 2012:

The strongest showing in Pittsburgh was the life sciences and software sectors. More than 23 companies received funding in life sciences, predominantly medical device companies, and 19 software and IT services companies were funded. The number of software company deals last year is a sign of the region’s strength in this sector since software companies generally don’t require large infusions of cash, noted Terri Glueck of Innovation Works.

Innovation Works and The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) were the largest overall investors, IW with 12 deals and PLSG with six according to the MoneyTree report.

The companies that raised the largest rounds included: Avere Systems ($20 million), Thorley Industries ($20 million), TriStar Investors ($15 million) Duolingo ($15 million) Knopp Biosciences ($14.94 million) and BodyMedia ($11.89 million). 

Other local investors included: Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures, Adams Capital Management, BlueTree Allied Angels, Eagle Ventures and Pittsburgh Equity Partners.

“I personally think the next few years will be exciting,” Glausser adds. “We’re looking at a pipeline of opportunities here. Our mission is going to be to get the capital to put into these companies.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: NVCA and MoneyTree 

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Google and PNC for starters...

The top hiring story for this week is the news of Google Pittsburgh hiring eight.
 
Earlier media reports that Google  may be moving from Bakery Square were inaccurate, reports Jordan Newsman, Google spokesman.
 
“We are definitely growing, but we have no plans to expand,” he said. “We have been hiring for awhile and we continue to grow. There’s a ton of great talent in the city.”
 
The company, currently at 220 people, is hiring for a variety of technical positions, engineers all, including software engineers, data scientists and evaluators, product managers, system engineers and technical program managers.
 
Google is also seeking a human resources business partner.

PNC is posting 340+ jobs across all sectors, everything from mortgage and technical specialists to business bankers and systems analysts. 
 
Sierra w/o Wires reports this week the hiring of eight people, everything from experienced engineers to an entry level support analyst. 
 
While construction on the Shop N Save grocery store in the Hill District has been pushed back to 2013, Massaro, general contractor, reports that interested parties will be collecting applications for a number of construction, hospitality, restaurant, banking and grocery store jobs opening up.
 
The Hill House will hold an orientation and application intake session Wednesday night, Aug. 1, at the Hill House, 1 Hope Center, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

And from last week...
As reported last week, Aquion Energy is hiring more than 20 people including a director of research and development. In fact, the company, which plans to establish a manufacturing center in Pittsburgh, is always on the lookout for intelligent, committed innovative thinkers to join their world-class team of scientists, engineers and business people. 
 
Hundreds of jobs are projected at Aquion by 2014; current postings are in every area for those with extensive experience in the fields of electrochemistry, materials science, manufacturing, mechanical design, fabrication, electrical engineering, chemical engineering and physics.
 
Avere Systems, developers of high performance storage solutions for data enterprise centers, is at 75 and continues to grow. The company has 10 job openings including: product marketing manager, technical writer, regional sales manager, inside sales rep and various engineers. 
 
The Pittsburgh headquarter of ANSYS in Canonsburg is always hiring, the company reports. Currently the developer of engineering simulation software has more than a dozen postings for its home office, including software developers, engineers and human resources.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Google Pittsburgh, PNC Bank, Sierra w/o Wires, Aquion Energy, Avere Systems, ANSYS and ImaginePittsburghJobs.com
 

East End Brewing expanding operations in Larimer and releases Illustration Ale

East End Brewing Company is raising the bar on craftsman beer artistry.  
 
The microbrewery has teamed up with Pittsburgh's Toonseum for the release of Illustration Ale, six 1-liter bottles filled with a hearty Belgian Dark Beer and original artwork on the outside. (Click here for more on the local craft brew scene.)

The labels were designed by six local artists: Mark Bender of Mt. Lebanon, Vince Dorse of Green Tree, Jasen Lex of Chartiers City, Nathan Mazur of Holiday Park, Ed Piskor of Munhall, and Dave Wachter of Mt. Lebanon.
 
The microbrewery's business is booming as well. The business is expanding with a move to Larimer to satisfy local demand. The new brewery's 17,000 square-feet is four times larger than the present space in the East End, says Scott Smith, owner and founder. 
 
For the last seven years of our operation, our business has grown 40-60% year to year," says Smith. The highly productive, lean staff of four will also grow in time.  
 
"It's a great problem to have in a down economy. Beer seems to fly in the face of all economic despair.  Unfortunately, when a brewery is operating at full capacity you can't just unplug it and go down the street. We have to start from scratch."
 
This marks the second year for Illustration Ale, an idea that came from the painstaking process of hand-bottling the beer. We wanted a label that was worthy of the effort, says Smith. 
 
"A ToonBrew is the perfect answer."
 
A hearty one liter of Illustration Ale sells for $17 at both locations with $2 going to the ToonSeum. The price also includes a $3 deposit. Smith is finding, however,  that the bottles don't often make it back to the store.
 
"People like the artwork," he says.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Scott Smith, East End Brewing Company
 

Google Pittsburgh expanding and hiring. Best place to work in U.S., says Fortune.

Google Pittsburgh's Bakery Square office was recognized as one of the coolest offices in the country last year, but wait and see the new floor, modeled after the Kennywood amusement park, says Jordan Newman, Google spokesperson.
 
"The space is going to WOW anyone who walks in," Newman promises.
 
Google is expanding its Pittsburgh office, the former Nabisco factory, adding 30,000 square-feet on a third floor, bringing the total size of Google's occupied presence at Bakery Square to 80,000 square-feet. While the company declines to project hiring figures, Google obviously will need people to fill the space, Newman says. 
 
The company hired 50 engineers in 2011 and currently employs 200 people in Pittsburgh.  The expansion will be completed in February.
 
To add to the good news, Google was also named the best company to work for in the U.S. by Fortune magazine this month. This is especially noteworthy because the ranking was determined through fairly rigorous employee surveys, notes Newman. (Insider Business named the Google Pittsburgh office as one of the top 15 coolest spaces in the country.)
 
"The reason we're growing in Pittsburgh is there's a great pipeline of talent coming from CMU and other schools in the region," says Newsman. "There are so many great engineers coming out of the city. We're confident we'll be able to continue to find the talent here."
 
The boomerang effect has also brought many back to the region, he adds; residents who left Pittsburgh and chose to come back to work at Google. The region's strong economy has contributed as well.  
 
Google, based in Mountain View, Ca., has been growing aggressively and currently employs 7000 people globally. 
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jordan Newman, Google

Image of Google Pittsburgh copyright Brian Cohen

Deeplocal twists Toyota tech into a roller coaster and more. Watch the video!

Pittsburgh's Deeplocal is riding aboard yet another unique media campaign, this time on a roller coaster.

The East Liberty tech+engineering+art firm is working with Japanese automaker Toyota on its "Ideas for Good" campaign. Toyota is asking Deeplocal to do what it does best--take apart its Toyota Prius technology and create something completely unique. 

Toyota launched the campaign last November, asking the public to submit creative ideas on how to repurpose the Prius technology for non-driving uses. All the winning designs will be built by DeepLocal.

So far Deeplocal has constructed a solar-powered medical relief tent ventilation system, which captures solar energy that turns the blower fans inside the tent, keeping it cool in hot climates like Haiti. 

The second project involves the creation of a roller coaster, which uses the Prius Hybrid Synergy Drive system to generate energy and brake the coaster. The roller coaster is being built on a 70-foot track in a warehouse on Penn Avenue near Children's Hospital; Kennywood has donated the vintage lights and carnival atmosphere.

"It is a very efficient use of kinetic energy," explains Nathan Martin, CEO, who was tapped for the project by Satchi & Satchi of LA. "This is really just an inspiration concept to inspire excitement about the campaign and get people thinking about new ways to use this regenerative breaking system. It may inspire a new generation of engineers."

The campaign is part of Toyota's 10 year anniversary celebration. The soon-to-be-announced winners will receive a car and possibly work with a team of engineers from CMU to build the technologies.

Deeplocal and Pittsburgh are featured prominently in the awesome Ideas for Good video by Toyota, filmed by a Los Angeles company. Check it out!

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Nathan Martin, Deeplocal

Image and video courtesy of Deeplocal and Toyota




Wear the Shift does the math for a perfect fit

The shift, that timeless A-line that wears well anytime, has gone high-tech for a perfect fit.

Megan Dietz, a software developer, and Kelly Metzler, a graphic designer, met two years ago on a website for crafters. It didn't take them long to figure that they had something in common; neither could tolerance poorly fitting clothing that lacked in style and sustainability.

WearTheShift.com was born, a startup that partners vintage materials with an algorithm for sizing that ensures a custom dress with a perfect fit. Finally, style for plus- and petite-sized women, the "criminally underserved," says Dietz.

Creating dresses that skim the body comfortably, whether the wearer is curved like a delicious apple, pear or string bean, is the secret. Customers are encouraged to enlist the help of a friend in taking horizontal and vertical measurements (as illustrated by a video) for the best result. 

"We pump the measurements into a program and it churns out a pattern. It's pretty automated," says Dietz, a plus-sized gal herself who came back to Pittsburgh following a stint as a magazine publisher in NYC.

It's also great for the geek who likes the idea of computer-generated attire, she adds. "I love that they're comfortable and easy to wear. It's an anchor piece that expresses your style."

The duo works out of a studio in East Liberty with two seamstresses. The company got off to a strong start with the help of Kickstarter, the online creative funding platform that helps entrepreneurs to raise funds and conduct beta tests. Wear the Shift sold out of beta spots (for discounted dresses) in two days.

"When you think about our company, two things set us apart," Dietz says. "One is custom fit, the other is our tiny carbon footprint. We want to use our company as an engine for good. We'd like to make money, but we want to make people happy with our dresses and try to reflect that in the way we run our business."

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Megan Dietz, Wear The Shift

Image courtesy of Wear the Shift



Google Pittsburgh moves into industrial-chic space at Bakery Square, hiring a lot

From the pool table to vegan bar to netting draped across the ceiling like a giant hammock, Google's new office might be the coolest place to work in Pittsburgh. If only we all were computer scientists.

Long known for work spaces that inspire mental gymnastics, Google Pittsburgh has raised the bar with a 45,000 square-foot office in the old Nabisco factory on Penn Avenue.  More than 150 employees (those lucky ducks) are bouncing around the bright, industrial-sized space, with open work stations and a candy bar and cafeteria serving a healthy buffet. You can even get a free breakfast, take a yoga class or get a massage for a small fee.

There's hiring too, lots of it, specifically for software engineers, statisticians, research scientists and Internet technicians. The company also recently added a two-person sales staff.

"We expect people to think big so space is very important," said  Andrew Moore, director, during an invitation-only open house last week. "Pittsburgh is a world center of computer science. It's one of the places in the world you go if you are really interested in advanced systems."

And if you are going to do extreme mental labor, you might need a place to recline, added Moore, who prefers doing math lying down.

The region's universities, particularly Carnegie Mellon's stature in the world of computer science, played into Google's decision to establish a major presence in Pittsburgh. Pet projects include work on Google Sky, an app for Google Earth, and Recaptcha, the Carnegie Mellon startup that was acquired by Google in 2009.

Many of the employees at Google Pittsburgh are boomerangers, Moore noted. "Please tell your kids if they left Pittsburgh, to come back," said Moore. "Call them up." 

The $131 million Bakery Square redevelopment project, by Walnut Capital with design by Strada Architects, also includes tenants Anthropologie, Coffee Tree, Springhill Suites and Urban Active.

Check out the Google slideshow in Pop City!

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Andrew Moore, Google Pittsburgh

Inside Google image copyright Brian Cohen



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