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RE2 to give combat medics a hand with robot arm technology

Combat medics deliver life-saving treatment to wounded soldiers during wartime, but when it comes to protecting themselves from danger, there are few options. Now one local company is working to help these professionals to do their jobs more effectively and safely under hostile conditions.

RE2, a Lawrenceville-based robotics outfit and Carnegie Mellon University spin-off, recently received funding from the U.S. Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) office and the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) to develop technology that would assist combat medics in the field. Called LIFELINE, the system would allow them to quickly maneuver, treat, and evacuate wounded soldiers in dangerous situations.

In the past, RE2 has researched and developed robotic technologies for the U.S. military, the Allegheny County bomb squad, and for people with disabilities. LIFELINE is the first project created specifically for front-line medical personnel. RE2 President and CEO Jorgen Pedersen believes that, unlike the currently used body armor, the project could offer combat medics a much-needed hand.

"If the medic needs assistance, most likely a soldier will need to refocus from protecting the medic and other soldiers to assist the medic," says Pedersen. "LIFELINE will allow soldiers to focus on their assignments, and provide the medic with the tools to rapidly move an injured soldier or soldiers to a safer location. This also has the effect of minimizing the exposure time of the medic in a hostile situation."

As Pedersen explains, LIFELINE would involve a robot arm-like module that installs onto autonomous ground vehicles. The system would accompany medics into the field, where it would provide a more efficient, and therefore safer means of moving injured soldiers out of harm's way.

Additional details on LIFELINE are now under wraps, but Pedersen reveals that previous creations, including their Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (HDMS) and their large manipulator arms, will influence the technology. The project will align with the upcoming Army acquisition of medium-sized unmanned ground vehicles, which are currently slated to begin production in 2017.

ASSET and Google to present first Biz-Ed Blitz networking event

The national nonprofit ASSET has worked to advocate STEM education programs in the Pittsburgh area. On April 9, the organization will continue its mission with the first ever Biz-Ed Blitz.

Described as a speed networking event, Biz-Ed Blitz will connect local business and educational professionals, including senior managers, community relations officers, superintendents, and principals. ASSET organized the free event as a way to address the education and workforce demands of the region, where more and more jobs require skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

"Innovation cannot happen in isolation," says ASSET Director of Organizational Advancement Karen Ahearn. "By giving education and business professionals the opportunity to connect, ASSET can help bridge the gap between schools and businesses and inspire both parties to work together to prepare students for continued education and careers."

Biz-Ed Blitz will kick off with a mock networking session led by Leigh Pogue, Vice President of Human Resources for Westinghouse Electric Company, and Dr. Randy Lutz, Superintendent of Baldwin-Whitehall School District. From there, organizers will provide a forum for attendees to share ideas, via brief, three- to five-minute conversations, on advancing student learning.

The event was created in partnership with Comcast Newsmakers, WQED Pittsburgh, and Google, who will host the event at their Bakery Square offices.

"Originally, the Biz-Ed Blitz was to take place at ASSET’s offices," says Ahearn. "However, ASSET needed a larger space based on the number of early registrations. Because of our relationship with Google, we thought the partnership seemed fitting. After reaching out, Google agreed and was enthusiastic about accommodating our STEM event."

The Biz-Ed Blitz will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 9 at the Google offices in Bakery Square. Ahearn adds that the event will serve only as a networking event, and is not intended as an opportunity for businesses to market retail products and services to educators and schools. Those interested in participating can register at Eventbrite.  

Who's hiring in PGH? Millvale Public Library, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you exciting 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.

The Millvale Community Library needs a full-time sustainability coordinator to oversee the community-wide food, water, and energy-related sustainability goals of the Millvale Ecodistrict plan. Application deadline is March 30.

The Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group (PTAG), an organization committed to creating, enhancing, and preserving trail experiences in Southwestern Pennsylvania, is hiring a part-time executive director to oversee all aspects of general operations and management. Please send cover letter, resume and salary requirements to jobs@ptagtrails.org. Application deadline is March 31.

Carnegie Mellon University is hiring an associate director for the academic research center, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. The qualified candidate will manage, implement and direct a diverse range of arts administration activities, including fundraising, public relations, event planning and facilities management. Requires a bachelor's degree and five years of office experience.

DVSport Software, a Pittsburgh-based sports software company specializing in digital video acquisition, analysis, and play-back software, needs a full-time information technology specialist and network administrator

The Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections has an opening for an offender management system specialist. Requires an associate degree in computer science, information technology, accounting or business, or equivalent experience. 

Great Lakes Behavioral Research Institute, a leading provider of professional services and technology designed for the human services and nonprofit sector, is hiring a video production assistant. Requirements include a bachelor's degree in TV or film production, communications or a related field.

Giant Eagle is hiring a full-time candy specialist to help grow the company's candy and gift basket business. Responsibilities include developing candy recipes and production guidelines for existing and new and innovative candy offerings. Requires a degree in pastry arts.

Paid Internships

The Pittsburgh distillery Wigle Whiskey needs a summer community engagement and events coordinator intern to work at the facility's new Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden. Candidate will perform various duties, including giving tours, maintenance, and coordinating special events. A summer production assistant internship is also available.

The Citizen Science Lab, a hands-on life sciences laboratory, is looking for a summer social media intern.

Check out last week's listings for more opportunities.

Dormont offers worry-free parking with new MeterFeeder app

Dormont is home to numerous locally owned restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Now the borough will make it easier for business patrons to pay for parking with a new smartphone app.

Dormont Borough Council recently partnered with the Crafton-based tech company MeterFeeder to launch a pilot program that will allow smartphone users to pay for parking remotely with an app. The arrangement began last December when MeterFeeder representatives approached former Dormont Borough Manager Jeff Naftal with their services.

The pilot program -- taking effect at the end of March -- makes Dormont the first municipality to work with MeterFeeder, which designs parking applications for the public and for law enforcement use. Jeremy Moore, who heads business development and operations at MeterFeeder, said he believes that the program will demonstrate how local governments can easily and inexpensively adopt parking apps.

"One of MeterFeeder's main goals is to show that any municipality anywhere can offer easy mobile parking solutions without spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars on expensive hardware and infrastructure," says Moore. "Our partnership with Dormont will help show other municipalities the advantages of this system and that they can provide the same services that large cities offer their residents."

The MeterFeeder app works by determining, through GPS tracking, when users are in Dormont's jurisdiction. It then allows them to use their license plate numbers and stored credit card information to pay for parking. The app will also send notifications when the user needs to pay for more time. Moore believes that MeterFeeder offers more benefits than similar parking apps, such as Pango.

"Unlike offerings like Pango, MeterFeeder doesn't charge a convenience fee to use, does not charge additional for push notifications, and it provides an end-to-end solution for the parkers and the enforcers," says Moore. "We also are available for use by any municipality regardless of size or current parking solution."

The company is currently training Dormont police and staff on how to use MeterFeeder and its companion app, MeterReader, which allows local law enforcement to check whether the driver paid with MeterFeeder. The MeterFeeder app will become available to the public by the end of March.

CMU and IBM partner to create smarter buildings

Carnegie Mellon University hopes to save money and become more efficient with an innovative new approach to managing resources. CMU recently announced a partnership with IBM to improve campus-wide energy use. The project, called the Smarter Buildings Initiative, will use IBM-supported cloud technology to collect and monitor data from CMU systems, including those that control water, electricity, and heating and cooling.

The move will pioneer the new IBM Building Management Center, and make CMU the first higher education institution to utilize a cloud-based analytics system for reducing energy and facility operating costs. Once fully implemented, the process would save the school approximately 10 percent, or $2 million, a year on utilities.

"Our initial estimates of the potential benefits of the smarter buildings process were based on published research studies and actual data generated by IBM’s use of the technology in their own real estate operations," says Associate Vice President for CMU’s Facilities Management Services Donald Coffelt. "We determined the 10 percent figure from that baseline data, experiences by other IBM partners and some CMU specific elements like utility costs, energy use and building size."

The Smarter Buildings Initiative will begin with a pilot program in nine of CMU’s largest and most prominent buildings, including the Jared L. Cohon University Center, Hunt Library, Newell-Simon Hall, Doherty Hall, the Purnell Center for the Arts, the Gates Center for Computer Science, and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. The initial application will focus on HVAC systems, and will later cover lighting, water, and other utilities. The project is scheduled to reach all of CMU's 36 buildings within the next three years.

As Coffelt explains, the Smarter Buildings Initiative helps to further CMU’s role as a founding partner in the Oakland expansion of the Green Building Alliance’s Pittsburgh 2030 District, which challenge partner organizations to achieve 50 percent reductions in energy use, water consumption and transportation-related emissions by the year 2030. He adds that it also demonstrates the university's ongoing focus on becoming more energy efficient.

"Energy costs and energy consumption have been trending down at CMU for several years," says Coffelt. "In fact, CMU’s energy costs and consumption for 2014 are actually lower on a per square foot basis than they were in 2008."

PItt researchers set their sights on curing corneal blindness with stem cells

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have developed a potential treatment for corneal blindness with stem cells.

A team lead by Dr. Fatima Syed-Picard of Pitt’s Department of Ophthalmology successfully transformed dental pulp stem cells obtained from wisdom teeth into corneal stromal cells, called keratocytes. The findings, which were published online in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, indicate that corneal transplant tissue could potentially be created from a patient’s own cells.

“Dental pulp has been shown to have a population of adult stem cells that can become a number of different cell types,” says Syed-Picard. “The dental pulp and the cornea have the same developmental origins. This is why we thought that stem cells from the dental pulp might be able to become corneal cells.”

As Syed-Picard explains, the cells were obtained from human third molars -- commonly referred to as wisdom teeth -- provided by the Pitt School of Dental Medicine. After removing the pulp tissue, the team then isolated the stem cells and cultured them in a solution that coaxed them into becoming keratocytes. The engineered keratocytes were then injected into the corneas of healthy mice, where they integrated without signs of rejection.

The study is one of many looking into how dental pulp stem cells could become instrumental in future regenerative therapies. In this case, the ability to engineer keratocytes could mean more access to treatment for corneal blindness, which affects millions of people worldwide. Currently, donor corneal tissues are used to treat corneal blindness, and while the method has a high success rate, many countries suffer from a shortage of the resource.

“One benefit of trying to use dental pulp stem cells is that, potentially, these cells could be collected from the patients themselves,” says Syed-Picard. “There would be no need for donor tissue.”

The next round of experiments will assess whether the technique can correct corneal scarring in an animal model. But, as Syed-Picard points out, more work will need to take place before any testing on humans can proceed.

“Our research is still in the early stages, and it will be years before the use of dental pulp stem cells for corneal restoration can be tested in humans,” says Syed-Picard. “Additional studies need be done in mice and also in larger animals to prove efficacy and safety."

Who's hiring in PGH? First Insight, Mosser Casting and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you exciting 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.

First Insight -- whose clients include such big-name brands as Abercrombie & Fitch and The Limited -- enables companies to determine customer demand faster and more easily by collecting data through online consumer engagement and using it to choose, price and correctly market the best new products. As opposed to in-store testing, which can usually take weeks or months to gather data, First Insight's approach only takes one to three days, and costs much less to perform. It also provides more accurate data that can help companies boost profits: In 2013, Vera Bradley credited First Insight for an overall four percent sales increase, which was due to using predictive analytics in developing a market strategy for the brand's line of baby accessories.

First Insight now has multiple open positions in the Pittsburgh area, including a development manager and an insight coordinator.  

The Oakland Transportation Management Association (OTMA), a nonprofit organization committed to reducing traffic and air pollution in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, is hiring a program administrator. Qualifications include a four-year degree and three years of professional work experience. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and three references to oaklandtmajobs@gmail.com by March 20.

The Department of History of Art and Architecture (HAA) at University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (CMP) are seeking a four-year lecturer in Curatorial Studies. The candidate will work both as a scholar-teacher in HAA’s art history department and as a curator with the cross-disciplinary collections of the Carnegie Museums. Please send application materials to Molly Sabol at mks89@pitt.edu by April 10.

Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, an architecture and urban design firm located in the Strip District, is hiring a full-time intern architect. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in architecture and one to four years of professional experience.

The Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) needs a design director to support the school’s branding efforts. Requires a bachelor’s degree in commercial art or design and eight to ten years of experience.

The Phipps Conservatory has new full-time and part-time employment opportunities, including a human resources administrator and event assistants.

The East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) has openings for two full-time case managers to provide comprehensive intensive case management services and coordination for residents of Hamilton Larimer and East Liberty Gardens (HL-ELG), also referred to as the Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI). Please send cover letter, resume, application, and compensation requirements to HR Director, 6140 Station St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206, or email them to KellyJ@eecm.org.

Mosser Casting, a Lawrenceville-based regional talent agency, has immediate openings for part-time and full-time casting assistants. Access to a car and laptop required. Video camera, video editing, and Photoshop experience a plus. Please send resumes to mossercasting.jobs@gmail.com.

PerkinElmer, a global corporation focused on improving the health and safety of people and the environment, is hiring a software engineer at its Pittsburgh offices.

Check out last week's listings for more opportunities.

PRC launches new and improved website for eco-conscious Pennsylvanians

The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) helps environmentally-conscious state residents stay green with news, tips and programs that tackle everything from littering to the proper disposal of harmful chemicals. But when it came to fulfilling its mission, the nonprofit's website, which was built in 2000, failed to make the grade.

"The old site was cumbersome and very difficult to update, which very much limited its capacity to offer real-time resources to Pennsylvanians," says PRC Regional Director for Western Pennsylvania Justin Stockdale. "Additionally, the old website was at times difficult to navigate, therefore preventing users from reaching the content that they needed."

The organization recently launched an updated website where users can access information on recycling and disposal guides, workshops, volunteer opportunities, and PRC programs such as Zero Waste Pennsylvania and Don't Trash My Turf. The site also includes a new feature, The Bugfeed, a series of blog-style articles that explore issues directly and indirectly related to PRC programs.

However, as Stockdale points out, the site mainly operates as a user-friendly platform where the public can easily navigate content based on location and needs.

"As a statewide organization, we offer different programs and services in different places, so providing localized information was imperative," says Stockdale.

At a local level, Pittsburgh residents can use the website to find upcoming collection events for hard-to-recycle items and household chemicals, as well as adult education workshops that provide instruction on subjects such as at-home composting and rain barrels. Stockdale -- who oversees all the city's PRC programming -- believes it will also serve as a connection point to the organization's area partners, such the Point Breeze-based recycling initiative Construction Junction.

"While we know quite a bit about building materials reuse, we recognize that Construction Junction is the leader on this issue in our region," says Stockdale. "We would rather promote its work and its resources in place of creating our own content. In other words, we don’t want the site to be all about us -- we want it to be of value to the visitor, and sharing the work of our peers."

CEAgent helps nurses organize their professional lives with new app

The healthcare industry has spent years transitioning their patient records to an electronic system. As that process continues, one local company has made it easier for some medical professionals to manage their own personal records with a new app.

The South Side-based company CEAgent recently launched an iPhone app that allows nurses to maintain important professional documents such as licenses, clearances, and continuing education certifications. The concept came from CEAgent co-founder and registered nurse Steve Benso, who sees the online tool as a long overdue resource for the health-care community.

"The current system of license regulation and compliance is paper based and manually intensive," says Benso. "There are so many antiquated methods still present in health care, and CEAgent was created to help eliminate the inefficiency and wasted man hours."

Benso worked with a team of experts, including practicing nurses and network security specialists, to make the app easy to use and intuitive. Users can take photos of physical documents and store them in the system, where they are available to view or email from anywhere at any time. The app also features a real-time dashboard that provides automatic notifications when a license or certification nears expiration.

Benso adds that, unlike similar apps, which primarily focus on doctors or pharmacists, CEAgent was designed by nurses for nurses. Even so, the company hopes to expand the app to serve other licensed professionals, including lawyers and law enforcement.

"Nurses are the second largest licensed professionals in the country, second to teachers, so this proved to be a good market to start with our domain expertise," says Benso. "In order to develop the app for other professions, it will require research, testing, and, of course, funding."

The CEAgent app is now free to download in the iPhone app store. 

Hammerstep dances toward Pittsburgh with innovative live show

Hammerstep has performed multiple times in Pittsburgh, including at Mayor Bill Peduto's inauguration and as the headliner at New Hazlett Theater's annual fundraising ball last fall. With a little help from the city's arts community, the Brooklyn-based dance company hopes to return with an experimental new show.

Co-founded and co-directed by Pittsburgh native Garrett Coleman, Hammerstep has showcased its Irish and hip-hop dance-influenced act on the variety TV competition America’s Got Talent and around the globe. For its latest project, Indigo Grey, the company hopes to combine emerging technology with high-energy performances to create an immersive live show.

A Kickstarter was recently launched to raise money for Indigo Grey, which Coleman believes would resonate with Pittsburgh audiences.

"As a post-industrial city that has undergone an immense revitalization process -- some of which has been spurred by the arts and culture sector -- Pittsburgh seems open for innovative and forward-thinking projects like Indigo Grey," says Coleman. "The mix of industrial and futuristic themes in the show will directly mirror Pittsburgh's transition from a somewhat bleak setting into a city of the future."

Described as "Sleep No More meets The Matrix," Indigo Grey would forego a stage, props, backdrops, and other traditional theater elements. The multimedia show would instead use technology such as 3-D projections, drones, and ultimate surround-sound to turn an abandoned warehouse into an interactive, futuristic setting. Among the Pittsburgh venues proposed to host the show are the Carrie Furnace in Braddock and the old Iron City brewery in Lawrenceville, as well as several vacant locations along the Allegheny River.

Coleman hopes to rally the support of local arts, urban development, and political figures to bring Indigo Grey to Pittsburgh as part of a larger urban revitalization and arts education programming push. He discussed the project with Lawrenceville United Executive Director Lauren Byrne and plans to open dialogues with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and restaurateur Kevin Sousa this April.

If brought to Pittsburgh, the show would not only serve as entertainment, but as an opportunity for the city's arts professionals. As Coleman explains, the production would involve the work of local installation artists, movement specialists, and technical crews. Hammerstep also plans to engage Pittsburgh's youth by giving them firsthand, behind-the-scenes career experience.

The Indigo Grey Kickstarter will run through March 16, 2015. The show will make its world premiere this summer.

Blast Off Apps helps small businesses enter the mobile market

Small Pittsburgh businesses that need affordable mobile apps can now turn to a new local startup.

Founded by West Virginia University graduate Adam Paul, Blast Off Apps focuses on providing low-cost, high-quality mobile apps for small businesses in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The Pittsburgh-based company was created when Paul noticed how high prices were driving small businesses out of the mobile app market.

"I began to look into the mobile market and realized that mobile application development was severely overpriced and, if not for greed, could be utilized by small business to level the playing field," says Paul.

Paul formed the company with Chief Technology Officer Cecil O’Dell, a fellow WVU alum he met while studying physics and working as a STEM ambassador at 4-H summer camps. After a year of planning and developing their system, the two launched Blast Off Apps last February.

As Paul explains, Blast Off Apps differs from other mobile app providers in its approach to pricing and development. Creating an app for Android and Apple devices can cost an average of $50,000 or more, and can take six or more months to develop. Blast Off Apps offers a flat fee of $1,500 to design apps for both Android and Apple stores. They also strive to complete each project -- which is hand-coded in-house -- within four to eight weeks.

The company recently launched an Android app for its first client, the independently owned, Wheeling, W.Va.-based bookstore Words & Music Bookshop. With more possible clients coming in, including some from as far as Australia and Switzerland, Paul hopes to expand their sales team to help further their mission of making mobile apps accessible to everyone.

"We are here to make small business the equal, once again, of big business," says Paul. "No longer will small business be priced and delayed out of the mobile market. Blast Off Apps wants every local, small business to have mobile."

Pittsburgh art advocates to lead panel at SXSWedu

The annual SXSWedu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, works to foster innovation in learning by hosting a diverse community of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education. On March 9, local art professionals and educators, including Felice Cleveland, director of education at the Mattress Factory, will attend SXSWedu to participate in a panel discussion that covers the benefits of project-based learning (PBL) in schools.

Cleveland will join representatives from other Pittsburgh institutions, including Heather McElwee of the Pittsburgh Glass Center, Tresa Varner of The Andy Warhol Museum, and Avonworth High School Principal Kenneth Lockette, to explain how the Pittsburgh Galleries Project operates as a model for PBL. Titled Using Art to Transform Physical Spaces and Minds, the panel will share the successes and challenges of the project with the broader education community.

“We hope to inspire some of our fellow educators to think about this project and replicate it in their own way,” says Cleveland.

Started in the fall of 2013, the Pittsburgh Galleries Project combined the efforts of Avonworth High School and several Pittsburgh art institutions to encourage students to take part in creative extracurricular projects outside of the classroom. Groups of students visit places such as the Mattress Factory, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Warhol, and the Toonseum, where, as Cleveland explains, they receive behind-the-scenes insights into curating, installing, making artwork, and creative careers. The students then use inspiration from their experiences to collaborate on an installation that will go on display at their school.

As Cleveland explains, the program has made an impact on students to find creative solutions to real-world problems. This year, the group will use what they learned to address issues with the school’s Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) policy, mainly the lack of available charging stations. The students are working to build a London-style telephone booth that, upon completion, will serve as a charging station located in the school’s common area.

The panel will also address how to transform schools into more creative spaces and introduce students to the variety of careers in the art world. Says Cleveland, “We want to share the work that we do with the education community around the country; we also hope to be inspired by what others are doing and bring that back to Pittsburgh.”

For more details on the Using Art to Transform Physical Spaces and Minds panel, please visit the SXSWedu website.

Who's hiring in PGH? Dinner Lab, East End Cooperative Ministry and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you exciting 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.

Dinner Lab began in New Orleans in 2012 and has since become a national sensation. The pop-up supper club has hosted innovative dining events in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. Today, Dinner Lab announced Pittsburgh as its newest city.

“We’re really excited about coming to Pittsburgh,” said Zach Kupperman, co-founder of Dinner Lab. “Pittsburgh [has] an amazing cultural and culinary scene … Pittsburgh is a very cool and underground cultural city with a lot going on.”

The underground, membership-based social dining club is hiring a part-time event manager for its new Pittsburgh location. Email hdietsch@dinnerlab.com for more details.

The Frick Art & Historical Center has openings for a development manager and a membership assistant.

The East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) is hiring a part-time database and donor stewardship coordinator to manage its donor database and stewardship cycle through print and electronic communications. Requirements include a bachelor's degree and experience with Raiser's Edge software. Send cover letter, resume, application, and compensation requirements to HR Director, 6140 Station St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206, or email materials to KellyJ@eecm.org.

Jawbone, an international consumer technology and wearable devices company, is hiring a senior hardware engineer at its Pittsburgh location. Requires seven years of experience in electrical engineering.

The hybrid advertising agency Chemistry Communications is looking for a senior digital designer with five or more years of agency digital design experience.

Hi-Tech Learning, which offers technology-focused summer camps for kids in the Pittsburgh area, is looking for camp instructors. Candidates must have criminal and child clearances and reliable transportation. Send resume to swalk@hi-techlearning.com.

Paid internships:

CBS has multiple part-time internships for students pursuing careers in television broadcasting and related fields. Application deadline is April 3.

Check out last week's listings for more opportunities.


Pitt launches new crowdfunding platform to support university projects

The Internet offers numerous ways to raise money for a project. But now students and faculty at the University of Pittsburgh can forego the Kickstarters and Indiegogos of the world with a new crowdfunding platform devoted to their specific needs.

The school recently launched EngagePitt, a website where student organization leaders or faculty members can create fundraising campaigns for community outreach and research projects. Managed by Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement, the site allows users to reach out to donors in the Pitt community, as well as family, friends, and colleagues.

As Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement Albert J. Novak Jr. explains, EngagePitt offers multiple advantages compared to other crowdfunding sites, where users could potentially pay large fees and risk losing funds when a campaign fails to reach the goal amount.

"Unlike other sites that charge user fees ranging from 4.5 percent to 10 percent, there will be no user fees incurred by faculty and student groups using Pitt’s EngagePitt platform," says Novak. "Further, all gifts recorded during a project’s campaign will be applied toward the stated need, whether or not the final goal is met." In addition, the Office of Institutional Advancement also provides training and guidance to all campaign groups.

EngagePitt tested the crowdfunding waters last December with a few approved pilot campaigns. Among them were projects for ThinkSepsis and Pitt’s Society of Women Engineers, both of which focus on advancing innovation on campus and beyond. ThinkSepsis will use its funds to equip six ambulances in the Pittsburgh area with new, state-of-the-art alert systems, while the Society of Women Engineers will apply the $2,351 they raised to improve their annual outreach events.

A number of ongoing EngagePitt campaigns are now accepting contributions. Students and faculty interested in launching a campaign should visit the site's application page.

First Bytes Society seeks tweens and teens for computer programming class

In 2012, the computer programming education initiative, First Bytes Society, won a $1,000 micro-grant from the Awesome Foundation.

“The grant from the Awesome Foundation served as the initial kick start for the First Bytes Society,” says First Bytes Society founder, Nate Good. “Their backing affirmed that this was a cause worthy of bringing to the community and helped us establish some important relationships in Pittsburgh.”

Now, after years of building partnerships, developing a curriculum, and creating a custom development environment, the Pittsburgh-based group is ready to launch its first pilot class.

The First Bytes Society Kick Off will provide a free eight-week course focused on teaching computer programming to 10 students between the ages of 12 and 15. The sessions will begin on March 30 and take place every following Monday at Union Project in East Liberty. Good hopes the pilot class will serve as a first step toward giving students the skills to succeed in today’s tech-heavy job market.

“In my anecdotal research among Pittsburgh students, it is very uncommon for students to even have the option to explore computer programming prior to late in their high school curriculum,” says Good. “This is especially true for public school districts serving communities with lower income families. Computer literacy has quickly become a crucial skill set for those entering the job market, regardless of their occupational focus."

First Bytes Society still has some work to do in the weeks leading up to the launch. The organization hopes to raise $3,500, either from corporate or individual donors, to round out funding for the class. For $250, donors can sponsor a laptop that will be used during the pilot class and future classes. Two local companies, ShowClix and Metamorphosis Spa in Lawrenceville, have already chosen to sponsor laptops.

Good is also in the process of recruiting more mentors to help with the classes. In addition to several software engineers that have signed on to teach, he hopes to attract individuals who possess backgrounds in computer science, or have experience working with teens.

While the pilot class centers on tweens and teens, First Bytes Society’s long-term mission is to teach programming to everyone, regardless of age. As the organization grows, Good plans to develop instruction for adults and young children.

“As we start to expand to older -- and younger -- demographics, we will introduce new curriculum tracks,” says Good. “The curriculum for tweens is focused around creating visuals and building interactive games. Curriculum for adults may be more oriented towards pragmatic real-world solutions, replacing the simple 2-D game with an interactive mortgage calculator.”

Those interested in registering a tween or teen for the First Bytes Society Kick Off can attend an info session taking place on March 2 at 7 p.m. at Union Project, or fill out an online application. Interested donors are encouraged to check out sponsorship opportunities on the website.
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