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Talent : Pittsburgh Innovates

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Who's hiring in Pittsburgh for the new year? Niche, GNC, Songwhale and more

Happy 2014! Do you know where your next job is? Each week Pop City reports on the latest company and hiring news.
 
Niche, formerly known as College Prowler, is expanding from 20 to 28 employees in the next six months. The firm provides in-depth reviews and analysis on colleges and K-12 schools. Niche is looking for business analysts, database engineers, a sales director, product managers, software engineers and web marketing specialists and analysts.
 
GNC, the nutritional supplement company with corporate offices in downtown Pittsburgh, has at least eight positions open in the region for everything from web and applications developers to merchandise managers, facilities administrators, financial services and marketing.
 
Victory Media in Corapolis, creators of marketplaces and publications that connect the military and civilian worlds, is hiring: digital product manager, web developer, national account executive, marketing director and QA analyst.
 
Songwhale is seeking a qualified part-time English to Japanese translator. The desired candidate must have native-level fluency in both Japanese and English (reading, writing and speaking) and great communication and organizational skills. Send resumes to info@songwhale.com 

Human Capital Consultants, a human resources and recruiting firm, has at least six openings in Pittsburgh for engineers, sales reps, recuitors and more. 

Avere Systems, which moved in new offices on the North Shore, has openings for engineers.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is hiring a development coordinator who will be responsible for supporting the museum's overall fundraising efforts.

The Western Pennslvania Humane Society is looking for a director of marketing and publicity.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Innovation that Mayor Bill Peduto wants that Pittsburgh needs

While the weather outside was frightful, the inauguration of Pittsburgh’s 60th mayor on Monday couldn’t have been warmer. 
  
From rocker Joe Grushecky intoning “…won’t you be my neighbor” with backup from the CAPA chorus, to poet Vanessa German inciting us to rise up and become change agents on our own front porches, to gospel singers and homemade pierogies, the Pittsburgh promise generated a heat all its own. 
 
“There is nothing wrong with the institutions of this city that cannot be repaired by good faith, square dealing and hard work,” Peduto told the gathered crowd at Heinz Hall.
 
“I will not make the mistake of assuming that my ascension to the office of mayor is, in itself, political reform. It is my job to turn this moment into an opportunity for reform.”
 
A self-described data-driven guy, Mayor Peduto moves into the office armed with 1100 pages of notes generated by a citizen-lead advisory committee that worked through the holidays on ideas to lead the region forward.
 
He has an ambitious to-do list of his own, as well, no less than 100 highly-detailed ways to lead the region, often tapping technology to get the job done.
 
Here’s a sampling of a few of the items on his innovation checklist, things Mayor Peduto wants that Pittsburgh needs:
 
· User-friendly government, beginning with a new cabinet position. Among the first hires will be a chief performance and innovation officer, a job expected to go to Debra Lam. Bring on big data!
 
· City streets with smarter traffic signals. Streamlined digital building permit systems and equal opportunity technology for all.
 
· A green tech and clean tech investment fund.
 
· Quality education and growing STEM opportunities for students.
 
· Showcasing neighborhoods through pedestrian way-finding. It will be interesting to see what this looks like.
 
· And GPS tracking for snow plows.
 
Let the new year and new season for the region begin.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Photos copyright by Brian Cohen.

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Lots of year-end openings: Avere, Songwhale and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company and hiring news.
 
Avere Systems, a developer of storage solutions for enterprise data centers, is hiring several positions for its Pittsburgh office: technical support engineer, software engineer, software QA engineer and technical inside sales.
 
Songwhale, a fast-growing interactive tech company that enables brands and companies to reach consumers with their message across multiple digital touch points, is hiring an iOS developer, Android developer, senior software engineer and senior project manager.
 
The Heinz History Center in the Strip District is hiring for six full-time positions: web and social media content writer, exhibit/experience designer, events coordinator, conservation services manager, Fort Pitt Museum customer service associates and a security officer.
 
The MAKERSHIP Project in Pittsburgh is hiring. The project is developing a new concept in tools training for next generation firms with the help of a Dept. of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund grant. The project seeks a training program coordinator responsible for building and operating a rapid training program to equip workers with the skills necessary to excel in digitized manufacturing and startup environments.
 
Neighborhood Allies is a new nonprofit set to launch in early 2014, replacing the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND) that began in 1982 as a community development funding intermediary to support community development in the region. The nonprofit seeks a dynamic individual with the vision and strategic sensibilities to pick up its mission and move the organization into the future.
 
Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp. is hiring a director of receptive services to identify, generate and evolve business development opportunities in the promotion of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.
 
TAKTL, a Pittsburgh-based, international designer and manufacturer of facade panels and high-tech architectural elements, is hiring an architectural projects and sales coordinator for its Glenshaw office.
 
The Resumator, a self-described “quirky software company that is reinventing the way employers hire,” is hiring. The Resumator is looking for a customer success engineer with great technical know-how who will engage customers, deliver outstanding support and exceed expectations.

The Jewish Community Center has an immediate need for a digital marketing specialist, someone proficient in using content management systems and website analytics.
 
TowerCare Technologies seeks a skilled website developer and customer support manager for its Wexford office. The successful candidate will join their team to provide web services to non-profit organizations.

Immunetrics, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based bio-simulation company that creates mechanistic mathematical models of biological systems to accelerate the development of drugs, clinical diagnostics and medical devices, has six openings: a user-interface software engineer, mathematic modeler, data administrator and software engineers.
 
BlueBelt Technologies is hiring a software quality assurance engineer. The firm is developer compact, handheld robotic tools for orthopedic surgeons.
 
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review seeks a seasoned business reporter to provide sophisticated coverage of the region’s economy.
 
Have hiring news? Ring in the new year and email us with your firm’s latest job listings. Happy Holidays!
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? IKM, Pittsburgh Parks, Chatham University, ASSET STEM and more

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

Pittsburgh-based architectural firm IKM is hiring a marketing coordinator with strong organizational and writing skills. Stay tuned for more job openings in the future as well.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is hiring a director of finance and administration who will be responsible for the effective management of the conservancy’s finances, business administration, human resources, information tech and risk management.

ASSET STEM Education, a national education improvement nonprofit, is hiring a communications coordinator to increase ASSET's brand awareness and donor and membership levels through marketing communications, event planning and social media.

The RJ Lee Group in Monroeville, providing industrial forensic and engineering solutions, has several openings: certified industrial hygienist, XRD scientist I, senior software engineer and instrument technician – technician III.

Smith Brothers marketing agency on the North Side is looking for a senior content creator and copywriter, someone with a portfolio full of digital examples with well-crafted copy.

Carlow College is looking for an executive assistant of academic affairs, a position that requires strong professional administrative and communications skills with a customer service orientation.

Chatham University is hiring a program assistant for interior and landscape architecture.

The Ward Home, a nonprofit devoted to training at-risk adults in practical life skills in safe, nurturing environments, is looking for a director of development with a minimum of four-years experience in a related field. 
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the career links.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Forever, Axiom Health, Romeo Delivers and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company and hiring news.
 
Glen Meakem’s new company, Forever Inc., a provider of personal social storage for family mementos and documents, is hiring three for its downtown office: a marketing associate, marketing manager and senior product manager.
 
RE2, a developer of intelligent modular manipulation systems and drones for the defense industry, is hiring a principal electrical engineer to lead a team of electrical engineers, designers and technicians.
 
GiftCards.com, one of the largest makers of personalized gift cards from Visa or MasterCard, is growing and promises the hiring of 15 to 20 people in the coming year. The company currently has one opening for an eCommerce product manager.
 
Axiom Health Intellect Systems, a growth stage start-up company focused on hospital analytics and business analytics software products, is hiring two: a sales account executive to push initiatives across the U.S. and a CMIO and CTO to help create cutting edge products for hospital analytics and business. Candidates for the latter position should email a resume and cover letter to Murugan Subramanian at msubramanian@axiomhealthbi.com
 
Pittsburgh startup Romeo Delivers is seeking part-time studio assistants to help deliver happiness and spread perpetual kindness to the world. The AlphaLab Gear company in East Liberty sends romantic toolkits to men on a monthly basis with personalized messages and creative and personalized bits and bobs to bring joy to significant others.
 
Duquesne University is hiring a web communications manager responsible for managing and editing the university’s website, Intranet and other online communications.

The Tepper School of Business at CMU is looking for an office manager, someone with more than five years of experience working in a corporate or university environment.
 
CMU is also hiring a personal/administrative assistant to assist CMU’s school of design.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? The City of Pittsburgh, Avere, MARC USA, Pittsburgh Steelers and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company hiring news.
 
Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is posting 30 city jobs on a new website created by The Pittsburgh Foundation called Talent-City.com.  The jobs are in the areas of the Mayor’s Office, Finance and Administration, Public Safety and Urban Affairs, and Planning and Innovation; annual salaries range between $60,000 and $106,000.

Avere
has four openings in Pittsburgh: director of cloud business development, technical support engineer, software engineer and software QA engineer, this from the fast-growing company that recently introduced Cloud NAS, reinventing the way data is stored in the cloud.

Rue21, in the news for going private, has 10 openings at its corporate headquarters in Warrendale, Pa. including buyers, district managers, store analysts and ecommerce merchandising.
 
MARC USA is hiring a PR/ social media account to manage the social media conversation for leading brands, plan innovative social promotions and also be involved in a wide range of media relations, event planning and cause marketing activities, in addition to day-to-day client service and project management.
 
The community newspaper of Pittsburgh’s Northside, The Northside Chronicle, is seeking a new managing editor. The monthly community newspaper has a circulation of 8,000 and delivers to 18 Northside neighborhoods.
 
Chorus Call in Monroeville, provider of audio and video conferencing and streaming solutions for an international market, seeks a video account executive to grow the company’s telecasting services including webcasting, multi-point video conferencing events, and endpoint video equipment.
 
Compunetix, also in Monroeville, a manufacturer of multipoint collaboration equipment and web collaboration software s hiring in for technical sales, software development, customer support, facilities maintenance, and electronics assembly.

Grantmakers of Western PA is looking for a program and communications coordinator, someone responsible for a wide range of responsibilities from communications to programming and service.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hiring a corporate partners manager. The position will be responsible for generating revenue through the sale of Pittsburgh Steelers marketing platforms, media programs and events through existing corporate partners and by cultivating new local and national partnerships. 

Is your company hiring? Email Pop City and include the career links.

Writer: Deb Smit

AlphaLab Gear is here--Pittsburgh's industrial-chic space for hardware startups

 
What do you get when you put nine enterprising hardware tech startups into an industrial-chic space in a former bowling alley in East Liberty?
 
AlphaLab Gear, the cool tech startup accelerator brought to us by Innovation Works and created around the idea—modeled after AlphaLab on the South Side—of entrepreneurs making great hardware together.
 
About 150 curious well-wishers attended the open house Monday night, which lifted the veil—or should we say garage doors—on the first class of companies.
 
The 10,000 square-foot space is an inspiring version of tech shop with touches like chain-link fences, barn doors, splashes of wall color, couches and a long wall of 12, 52-inch monitors that form a giant flat screen.
 
Gear taps the region’s prowess in robotics, software and hardware tech design, bringing entrepreneurs and artists together in a collaborative space to provide intensive business mentoring, financial assistance up to $50,000, a membership to tools and equipment in nearby TechShop and mentorship, for which IW is known.
 
“If Pittsburgh knows one thing, it’s how to make things,” said Rich Lunak, CEO of IW. “We are the original industrial town. We have the supply chain and talent to make this successful.”
 
The companies include:
 
FreshTemp, creating a temperature monitor and alert system for the food, medical and manufacturing industries.
 
IdentifiED, based on tech developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab, designing unmanned aerial systems for data gathering in remote and hazardous environments for military, oil and gas exploration.
 
KyteLabs, two entreprenuers from Puerto Rico who are working on 4.0 software/hardware products with low-energy Bluetooth.
 
LifeShel, making smarter smart phone cases that protect more than just your smartphone.
 
Piecemaker, offering retailers 3D technology to create their own low-cost customized products in a matter of minutes.
 
Rapid PTC, automated platform technology for manufacturing thermoplastic composite parts.
 
Romeo Delivers, a monthly subscription service for men who need a little assistance with sending romantic notions to their significant other, like “kisses in a bag.”
 
Saturday Garage, applying robotics to the tool industry for tool challenged do-it-yourselfers who need assistance in operating industrial-grade precision and design tools.

Two artists-in-residence are also a part of the mix: documentary filmmaker Kalpana Biswas and woodworking furniture designer Jonathan Shapiro.
 
“People are working in this space. Sparks are flying,” says Illana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear. “Being a maker has become cool again.”
 
AlphaLab Gear was created with support from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, URA, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Innovation Works

Pittsburgh innovation news you need to know

The entrepreneurial and innovation sector in Pittsburgh continues to heat up. Here’s a quick look at the news going down around town.
 
CMU reports the creation of a record number of new startups this year, 36 to be exact, an economic milestone for the region by all accounts. CMU, its faculty and students have spun out more than 130 companies over the past five years and have attracted approximately $400 million of outside investment. 
 
CMU also announced a shift to a “spin-in” approach to working with entrepreneurs through organizations like Carnegie Innovations. The model allows companies to function as a venture-supported startup and receive financial support from CMU while the university retains 90 percent equity in each.
 
“It really is an example of us getting into the business of our business in the tech development space,” Mark Kamet, CMU Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, told the audience gathered at LaunchCMU last week.
 
Five subsidiaries are underway: Acrobatiq, an open learning initiative; Acatar, a distance learning platform; Panopto, a video recording, transmission and content platform for enterprise; Clearmodel, focused on developing best-practice and model-based improvements; and iCarnegie, an older company developed in the ‘90s that works with government and businesses on workforce development.
 
The University of Pittsburgh announced this month the opening of The Innovation Institute to advance entrepreneurship, commercialization and economic development at the university, bringing everything together under the existing Office of Technology Management, Office of Enterprise Development, and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence. 
 
Built in PGH has announced the creation of Citywide Standup, a monthly meetup to bring entrepreneurs together for regular facetime. Participants will have 30-seconds to expound on their wins and losses over a beer. 
 
Taking a page from Silicon Valley and “Shark Tank”, UPMC is holding another two-day Health Data Palooza," bringing more than 130 engineers, designers and analysts together to create cool tools and products for health care. Last May, a similar event created a device that fits in a shoe to get employees at desk jobs to get up and move. The event will be held on Nov. 20th and 21st at Bakery Square’s offices of UPMC’s Technology Development Center. Judges will be present and funding will be awarded.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: CMU, University of Pittsburgh, Built In PGH

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? ModCloth, Songwhale, Steeltown Entertainment and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company hiring news.
 
ModCloth, the online vintage clothing retailer, is looking for a director of engineering for its Pittsburgh location. This is a forward-looking position that requires basic technical knowledge of the company's technology stack to help inform decisions.

Songwhale, a fast-growing, interactive technology company in Pittsburgh, is hiring developers, engineers and project managers.
 
The Efficiency Network (TEN) is hiring an entrepreneurial energy engineer to provide expertise in assessing, designing, calculating savings and scoping pricing energy efficiency projects. The company is a next-generation energy efficiency integration firm that hopes to change the way customers achieve energy and water efficiency goals.
 
University of Pittsburgh is hiring an academic community engagement advisor for the University Honors College. The position is responsible for directing the office and advising UHC students as well as other responsibilities.
 
Safaba in Squirrel Hill, a fast-growing machine translation firm, seeks a senior MT software engineer to play an integral role in its product development roadmap and customer project delivery.
 
Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery seeks a full-time gallery assistant who will be responsible for daily gallery management, creating PR and marketing materials, packing and shipping glass, and installing work for exhibition openings. A BFA/BA in art history or studio arts, or a background in gallery management is preferred. Send resumes and cover letters to Amy Morgan at staff@morganglassgallery.com.
 
Steeltown Entertainment Project is seeking a part-time (20 hours a week) youth & media program administrator to support its projects. Steeltown’s Youth & Media Program works to empower teens by inspiring, promoting and facilitating the creation of teen-produced media and provide the skills they need.
 
On the North Shore, Webkite, a content management platform developer, is hiring three: business development technology sales representative, outbound sales representative and a senior developer.
 
Branding Brand seeks a technical recruiter to work in the Pittsburgh office and lead the development of the team. The ideal candidate is entrepreneurial in nature, a true people person, and someone who lives and breathes mobile. 

Immunetrics, a bio-simulation company in Pittsburgh, on the cutting edge of in silico modeling, seeks a mathematical modeler.
 
AllFacilities Energy Group, an energy efficiency analytics company in Pittsburgh, is hiring an account associate with a Bachelor’s degree in a business or technical discipline, or 1 – 3 years of related experience.  Energy efficiency experience is preferred, but not required.
 
Bechtel Bettis seeks an entry level technical editor/writer in its West Mifflin office,  someone with experience or a degree in mechanical, marine or related engineering.

Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the career links.

Writer: Deb Smit


This week in startup news: the fast skinny on everything going down around town

Pop City innovation news offers a roundup this week of all the news you need to know:

Business Bout is back, Thrill Mill’s business plan competition that not only sinks venture capital to new startups but secures them a spot in Hustle Den’s incubator in East Liberty.

New this year, the top 15 companies selected will receive a cash prize; $25,000 for the winner and $5,000 for the top 14 companies selected. The deadline for submission is Dec. 6th at midnight. The funding was made possibly by the success of the Thrival Festival this fall and funding from the RK Mellon Foundation.

The first round of finalists, about 30 to 50 companies, will attend a weekend bootcamp that will provide training on the basics for building a company, says Bobby Zappala, CEO for Thrill Mill.

“We’re taking some serious strides to add value to the companies beyond giving them access to the space (Hustle Den),” says Zappala.  “Adding so much substance only increases the chance for companies to achieve something really great.”

Across the hall from HustleDen, AlphaLabGear is getting underway. The first nine companies are expected to be announced next week.

Pittsburgh’s big data startups will meet with regional big data investors for a mega session on investing and building companies in the field of data analytics. The interactive format will provide a meaningful dialogue and an opportunity to facilitate relationships between entrepreneurs and investors, says Samman Haqqi, organizer on behalf of Pittsburgh DataWorks.

National VCs like Accel, Atlas Ventures and Google Ventures will be on hand along with locals Draper Triangle, Innovation Works, and Birchmere Capital.

CMU has announced the launch of the Simon Initiative to accelerate the use of learning science and technology to improve student learning. The faculty-led initiative includes the formation of the Global Learning Council (GLC), a group of experts from academia, industry and foundation who will develop best practices in the open sharing of data across sectors to improve learning outcomes for all.

In addition, CMU will provide open access to the world’s largest bank of educational technology data, which it collected with the University of Pittsburgh as part of LearnLab, a Science of Learning Center funded by the National Science Foundation, says a CMU spokesperson.
 
Applications are now being accepted for the Steel City Codefest, a city-wide app-building competition to create apps that assist local nonprofits by promoting their mission and saving time and money. For more information or to apply click here.

The Energy Technology Center at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute officially opened its doors in North Fayette. The $3.5 million, 15,000 square-foot space is headquarters for the school’s energy programs, serving companies that are exploring and developing Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale.

Earlier this year, PTI announced a new certificate program in welding technology and the addition of an oil and gas electronics concentration to its electronics engineering technology associate program in science degree. The institute's oil and gas program is the first associate degree program in the region that concentrates on electronics for the energy sector, school officials said.

Finally, CMU invites the public to LaunchCMU Pittsburgh, a research and entrepreneurship showcase on Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the University Center, Rangos 1,2 and 3. Startups presenting include Surtrac, Sharp Edge Labs, PECA Labs, ActivAided Orthotics and Duolingo.

Writer: Deb Smit

What is UpTo? For starters, the community social accelerator is up to a regionwide expansion

Look for UpTo to pop up all over Pittsburgh and beyond, thanks to support from two local organizations.
 
A neighborhood experiment launched by marketing firm Shift Collaborative, UpTo stages pop-ups in underserved communities by bringing businesses and nonprofits together with freelance designers and writers who can turn work around quickly and at an affordable cost.
 
Successful pop-ups were held in this fall in East Liberty and Butler. Intrigued, Idea Foundry has adopted UpTo as part of its Intersector Accelerator Program, which funds businesses that have social or environmental benefits.
 
In addition, the Allegheny Conference is considering including UpTo as part of its Strengthening Communities Partnership, an initiative designed to address disparities in communities in the Pittsburgh region.
 
UpTo was created as a side project by marketing firm Shift Collaborative in East Liberty. It’s a way to challenge ourselves and do-good in local neighborhoods, says Sarah Mayer, a principal at Shift along with Eric Sloss.
 
The pop-ups are staged as community social events in the heart of main street communities--barber shops, Italian restaurants, ice cream shops, dry cleaners are all great candidates that have benefitted.
 
“People can walk in, walk around, meet people and make an appointment,” says Meyer.  “We want to educate people on the process and the importance of quality design work. Then we follow up to see how they are putting these designs into action.”
 
A menu of services is available to business owners, with rates of between $25 and $150 for content writing and design work, such as a business logo.
 
“This is an underserved population that doesn’t usually invest in quality design,” says Meyer. “We don’t hope to profit from it, we want to see it impact Main Street America. That’s our primary goal.”
 
With the expansion of the program, UpTo is building out its team, which consists of locally sourced freelancers. It’s a good opportunity for designers to fill out their portfolio, Meyers adds.
 
Scouting is underway for future locations, possibly Wilkensburg, McKeesRocks, Latrobe and Erie.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Sarah Meyer, Shift Collaborative

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Industrial Scientific, Mattress Factory, Seegrid, CMU and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest in company hiring news.
 
Industrial Scientific has broken ground on a new 200,000-square-foot global headquarters in Robinson Township, allowing the the company to consolidate its operations into one location. Hiring is expected in the coming year. IS is currently advertising five positions in Pittsburgh: credit account manager, electronics technician, senior director, senior electrical engineer and senior software developer.
 
Pittsburgh-based Seegrid, maker of robotic industrial trucks, is hiring four positions: field service technician, senior software engineer, a director of product development-robotic industrial truck product line and a mechanical engineer.
 
The Mattress Factory on the North Side is hiring a communications and marketing manager. The position is responsible for the implementation of strategies to increase visitor attendance and promotion of the museum nationally and internationally. 
 
South Side skincare startup FutureDerm has two openings for a software development consultant and financial consultant. The company recently announced the expansion of its product line beginning with a new skin cleanser.
 
Smith Brothers is hiring a senior content creator/ copywriter, someone who’s "a kickass copywriter with the portfolio to prove it."
 
RE2 in Lawrenceville is seeking a principal electrical engineer to join its team. A minimum ten years of experience is required. RE2 recently announced funding by the Dept. of Defense to commercialize its high-speed inspection robot, the ForeRunner, an unmanned ground vehicle.

BEA of Belgium, makers of automatic door sensor technology, has an opening in its Pittsburgh office for a director of marketing, someone with experience in product management. Pittsburgh is the company's North American headquarters. 
 
Carnegie Mellon University is hiring a publications coordinator and webmaster with three or more years of experience in writing, desktop publishing and multimedia.
 
Flying Cork Media is looking for a creative writer to assist in all client campaign writing. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising or public relations and 1-2 years of experience is preferred.
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City and send the links.

Writer: Deb Smit

Pittsburgh schools take students on wild rides through science, teach video game design

Students today are hungry for a challenging learning environment that not only engages them, but also prepares them for the 21st century workplace. So what does this look like?

Two high schools in the Pittsburgh region are embracing innovative educational models that teach STEAM skills in creative ways. One is a classroom that looks more like a place you might find at Epcot in Disney World; the other is an academy for future video game designers.

At Shaler High School, students are stepping into an immersive, virtual world called Dream Flight Adventures where they embark on their own missions that take them into the scientific realms of outer space, human body or deep sea.

Before the day of the mission, teachers prep the students. When the day arrives, the excited class takes its spot in a room that is designed as a command center, and moderated by an administrator who serves as flight director. The students manipulate the mission on iPads and follow the journey on a wide screen at the front of the room.

“When kids walk in, many think it will be like a video game, with scripted outcomes, says Gary Gardiner, CEO and creator.  “They quickly realize this is more of a real life experience. There is a lot of screaming and yelling.”

“Once the kids come in here, they are no longer are fifth graders, they are engineers, and hackers and physicists,” adds Michael Penn, GATE teacher and flight director. “They own these jobs. Time stops for them; they are so reluctant to leave.”
Dream Flight Adventure hopes to expand to other area school districts, says Gardiner, who is also manager of education and entertainment initiatives at Idea Foundry.

At Elizabeth Forward High School, Zulama’s Gaming Academy offers students a high school level curriculum based on course work offered at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). The academy teaches STEAM skills through classes on game design, 3D modeling and modern storytelling.
 
In its second year, the program has grown from 30 to 190 students.
 
“It’s changing the way teachers are teaching,” says Nikki Navta, founder and CEO. “It gives students practice for jobs that exist in the real world.”
 
Zulama addresses soft learning skills including working in teams, learning to communicating and collaborating effectively. It’s not about just math, science, art and history, says Navta. It gives students a tangible portfolio of work.
 
“The collaboration and the creation that students get to do is far more intrinsically motivating than any other course that I’ve seen offered in my mere 10 years of education,” says Heather Hibner, a teacher at Elizabeth Forward.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Zulama and Dream Flight Adventures
 
 
 
 

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Shoefitr, Precision Therapeutics, Carlow University and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest company and hiring news.
 
Pittsburgh startup Shoefitr, the former AlphaLab company that helps customers to make sure the shoe fits when they are buying online, is hiring for eight positions: footwear taxonomy specialist, front-end engineer, graphic designer, QA engineer, senior inside sales professional, software engineer, technical sales engineer and UX researcher/developer.
 
Precision Therapeutics on the South Side and Lawrenceville, a diagnostics company that provides cancer patients and their doctors with personalized cancer treatment, is hiring for seven positions: immunohistochemistry technician, software developers, finance, automation specialist, clinical information analyst, laboratory accessioner, part-time and clinical lab technician.
 
Combinenet, a SciQuest company, in the Strip District is looking to hire a full time unix administrator with five or more years experience in maintaining a production environment.  

Dick's Sporting Goods is hiring a marketing content editor to support the brand's mission.

Carlow University is hiring a communications strategist for a 12-month position to support a full range of Carlow's communications efforts.

The Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania are looking for a cookie sales coordinator to plan and implement the overall sales strategy of this major annual fundraiser. 

Looking for a little extra work for the holidays? FedEx Ground is hiring about 100 workers to support its operation on Neville Island, off I-79. Pay starts at $10 an hour.

Have hiring news? Email Pop City and include the career links.

Writer: Deb Smit

Need storage? Help balancing your budget? AlphaLab Demo Day shows and tells all

The AlphaLab Demo Day & Technology Preview proved yet again that entrepreneurs and startups are a big draw in Pittsburgh.
 
More than 375 people attended the presentations of six university tech startups and nine Innovation Works AlphaLab companies at the New Hazlett this week. Many stuck around to meet the companies afterward during an informal lunch mixer.
 
“The companies gained market traction and validation during the AlphaLab program and did an excellent job of presenting their products and companies at Demo Day,” said Jim Jen of IW. “This cycle’s companies continued the tradition of raising the bar for future AlphaLab classes.”
 
This year marked the first time that National Energy Technology Laboratory joined the lineup.  
 
The preview opened with university technologies, ranging from Lightside, an online platform that instantly assesses student writing and offers feedback to both teachers and student writers, to Diamond Kinetics, which is in the throes of commercializing technology that improves the performance of baseball and softball players.
 
The current crop of AlphaLab companies were equally compelling, ranging from reality-based gaming to a look at the savvy new age of college-level athletic recruiting. 
 
A few highlights:
 
What is augmented-reality gaming? MegaBits CEO Patrick Perini explained how his new game brings the gaming world and real world together. The game is based on a player’s physical location, allowing gamers to chase and battle monsters and feed and train them, in all kinds of real world weather.
 
It’s catching on. Nearly 200 applicants signed up in the first two hours of MegaBits’ launch, said Perini.
 
Ever lose an important file, or key nugget of information on your computer? Steve Cotter of Collected wants to streamline the way you find it by providing intelligent authoring technology to help you quickly access frequently used content. Not only does it speed up access, but also it can drill down contents on a Google drive and costs, at minimum, $10 a month. Launching in January.
 
Forget reconciling your bank statements across several apps. BudgetSimple tracks your spending and income all in one place and keeps it up-to-date.
 
“The most successful budget is one where you can keep the things that are important and eliminate the waste,” says CEO Phil Anderson, a successful internet marketer who previously worked for Vivisimo (before it was acquired by IBM) and LunaMetrics in Pittsburgh. BudgetSimple has 130,000 users signed on to date.
 
Wing Ma'am, a fast growing mobile app, is bringing bring LBGT women together as a resource for one another. It already attracted 108,000 users to date and is on target in reach 2 million in the next two years, says CEO Ariella Furman.
 
It’s also the only app of its kind that searches for events, not just people, she says.
 
If you’ve ever tried to stay abreast of a high school or collegiate athletic team’s changing schedule, you will appreciate the value of AthleteTrax. The startup is working with high school and collegiate club teams to provide an online tool that puts all a team’s information in one place, a sort of dashboard for athletics.
 
Lacking space for storage? Have space to rent? Spacefinity matches the have-nots with the haves and helps the haves convert their extra space into cash. The startup is tapping into the $22 billion storage industry and has 70 live space lords in Pittsburgh so far, says CEO Alex Hendershott.
 
Those looking for motivation to keep up with their physical therapy routines will gain support from Hability, a mobile tool that keeps patients engaged and therapists and family in the loop. “Compliance is in the root of attendance,” says CEO James Lomuscio.
 
Crowdasaurus stands at the intersection of crowdfunding and digital marketing. Projects with crowdfunding campaigns are matched with like-minded organizations—nonprofits or media outlets—who can benefit from the exposure they will receive by having content appear on the same page, says Josh Lucas, CEO. The Pittsburgh Foundation is already one of several beta testers on board. 
 
Finally, a senior at Grove City College believes the college athletic recruiting system is broken. Her startup, ProfilePasser, is the only platform that brings players and coaches together on the field where the players can be seen and recruited, says Sam Weber, founder. The app is available in the iTunes store now.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: AlphaLab, Innovation Works
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