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Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates 50 years of pairing youth throughout the region

After a mentoring relationship that lasted 7 years, two young men from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh network officially graduated from the community-based program this spring. The timing coincides with graduation of Ramello, the Little Brother, from Central Catholic High School in June. Frank, Ramello's Big Brother, supported his Little with guidance on everything from scoring touchdowns to academics as he grew into a successful young man. 

This fall, Ramello will start college at Youngstown State University to play football. And the volunteer-supported mentoring network organization that matched the pair during Ramello's most transformative years will mark 50 years with a celebration in September, too. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh is celebrating a half-decade of fostering essential connections like Ramello and Frank's with its annual Fly Away Bash, set for Sept. 10. The Fly Away Bash takes place at the Voyager Hangar at Allegheny County Airport, 1901 Lebanon Road, West Mifflin. For more information, call (412) 204-1216.

Back to school: What local STEM students can learn from Israel

In a matter of days, Pittsburgh-area schools will open their doors to welcome students and teachers to the start of another school year. But a group of educators will head back to school armed with a professional experience abroad that has opened their minds: a seminar trip to Israel to study science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM subjects in academic and research circles.

Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Classrooms Without Borders (CWB) sponsored the 21 educators who spent 12 days exploring Israel's cutting-edge technology through visits to facilities such as the Asher Space Research Institute; the Rambam Hospital underground emergency crisis center; the factory that produces the Iron-Dome technology; Israeli branches of Intel, Microsoft and Google; Palestinian startup companies; and the Jewish-Arab Nazareth Industrial Park.

Principals and teachers on the trip represented 20 private, charter and Catholic schools including Oakland Catholic High School, Propel Braddock Hills High School and the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, said Tsipy Gur, founder and director of CWB.

CWB chose Israel as a destination because the nation is a global leader in the world of science, technology, engineering and math, Gur said. The country also boasts the highest number of scientists, technicians and engineers per capita in the world, according to Gur. 

Gur said that the trip provides a worthwhile opportunity for educators to experience multi-disciplinary approaches and innovative programs that work at solving serious national problems, such as water scarcity. Those new ways of thinking translate to teaching STEM subject matter in the classrooms, she added. 

"When a teacher speaks from experience and radiates enthusiasm in a subject matter -- especially STEM subjects -- students become engaged and inspired in ways that text books are unable to duplicate," Gur said.

Classrooms Without Borders, which also sponsored a study seminar in Greece this summer, is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

For those local students whose teachers didn't travel the world for STEM experiences, a new fabrication lab at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore will open later this month. The Fab Foundation and Chevron, among other organizations, are opening the FAB Lab for students, teachers and the general Pittsburgh community to create, experiment and build their STEM skills.

Equipment at the FAB Lab will include 3-D printers, laser cutters, computers and software, electronics workbench equipment including robotics, sewing and embroidery machines, and projectors and documentation cameras. A mobile FAB Lab will travel to the region's schools during the upcoming school year.

FAB Lab Carnegie Science Center is the third of 10 Fab Labs that Chevron is developing in partnership with The Fab Foundation. Chevron has invested more than $140 million in education in the United States since 2010, according to a press release.


Pittsburgh rated a favorite foodie city

Pittsburgh comes in at No. 3 in Livability.com’s top 10 foodie cities for 2015. The reason: consistent rave reviews by local and national food critics, as well as recognition from the James Beard Foundation. 

Of course Primanti’s  is mentioned, but Livability also noted the top-rated local dining establishments posted on Yelp. The food spotlighted? The Liege waffle at Waffallonia, the menu at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, and the cuisine at Cafe Du Jour French Bistro. And not to be upstaged -- the kebabs and kazandibi at Istanbul Sofra -- all testament to the diverse palates of local foodies. 

Pittsburgh was edged out of first and second place by Coral Gables, Fla., at No. 1 and Omaha at No. 2. 

See the full list of Top Foodie cities here.

Pitt ranks no. 2 worldwide in the discipline of philosophy

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Philosophy, which has long been recognized for excellence, placed second in its field by the QS World University Rankings. The rating system evaluated more than 3,500 universities in 36 disciplines for its 2015 subject rankings.  

Anil Gupta, chair of Pitt’s Department of Philosophy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, credits the creativity of the faculty and their exploration of unfashionable ideas for the achievement.
The faculty’s research has made a significant impact as numerous authors worldwide have written about Pitt philosophy professors and their work. According to Gupta, 18 books have been published on Robert Brandom, 14 on Nicholas Rescher, and 11 on John McDowell beyond the hundreds of books published by faculty members themselves. He adds, “Pitt faculty, particularly Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Robert Brandom and Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy John McDowell, are among the most influential philosophers working today.”

Pitt placed second behind New York University but ahead of Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge universities. Read more about the QS World University Rankings criteria and the complete listing here.

CMU offers Tartan gear created by 3-D printing technology

PieceMaker Technologies, a local startup that develops self-service, 3-D printing kiosks, recently announced its partnership with Carnegie Mellon University as the college's first official licensee for 3-D printing. 

PieceMaker founder and CMU grad Arden Rosenblatt said that the company's first Shapeways.com storefront will offer officially licensed, 3-D printed Tartan gear. Just in time for graduation, the very first product offerings will be aimed at the class of 2015.

"As with everything in 3-D printing, each order from our Shapeways store is made on demand, but with this initiative, PieceMaker is stepping into the online world with two limited edition offerings," Rosenblatt said in a statement. 

Shop the Shapeways store here

Amazon acquires local startup Shoefitr

Last week’s acquisition of Shoefitr by Amazon should bring a long-awaited sigh of relief for the online retail giant as well as for footwear customers turned off by the order and return process.

The Oakland-based software company Shoefitr personalizes the online shoe buying process. The technology helps shoppers to order comfortable, precisely fitted shoes and enables online footwear retailers to recommend sizes for customers.

The company was started in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Matt Wilkinson, along with fellow alumni Breck Fresen and Nick End. Initially, Shoefitr focused on running shoes before digging into heels and other footwear options.

The size, brand and style-specific technology is designed to get the right fit, which lessens the high rate of return that online shoe sellers (and clothing apparel retailers alike) regularly experience.

It works like this: Customers enter their shoe size and the basic information from a favorite, current well-fitting shoe. Then Shoefitr matches it with footwear in its database to recommend the size and styles that provide a similar fit. It takes into account variables such as shape, sole thickness, and weight, giving customers comparisons against their current pair.

Presently, Shoefitr works with more than 1,000 brands worldwide, according to its website. The number is expected to grow as the acquisition by Amazon is finalized.

Learn more about the online shoe buying process using Shoefitr here.

Local companies make Forbes list of best employers

Four major companies from our region are among Forbes magazine’s 2015 best U.S. employers: The University of Pittsburgh, PPG, Alcoa and Mylan.

Of the four, Pitt came in at No. 91 -- the only one that placed in the top 100. With a local, full-time force numbering upwards of 12,000 workers, Pitt also stands among the city’s big three non-government employers.

Not far behind, PPG landed on the list at No. 159. Alcoa followed at 223. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan claimed its spot at No. 292; its Washington County headquarters made it the only ranked Pittsburgh-area company located outside of the city.

Also listed within regional proximity was Sheetz. Headquartered in Altoona, Blair County, the massive convenience center-gas chain continues to hold a hefty presence in Pittsburgh. It came in at No. 181.

The top 500 U.S. employers were chosen based on an independent survey given to 20,000 employees across 25 different industries. All employees responded anonymously. The survey was administered to larger companies and institutions with a minimum workforce of 2,500, including U.S. divisions of international firms.

View all 500 companies here.  


Earth Day celebrates sustainability and success

The worldwide Earth Day event on April 22 has special significance here in Pittsburgh. This year, Pittsburgh Earth Day marks the recent advancements our city has created in sustainability, technology, and innovation.

Involvement in the day’s lineup springs from sources ranging from the local business community gathering for a speakers’ breakfast to the fashion shows, exhibitors, music, pop-up dance party and the food truck festival that will follow.

Events will take place throughout the day in Market Square and Mellon Square in Downtown and Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

See the full lineup of events here.


Pitt sociology professors publish groundbreaking study on domestic violence

The American Sociological Review recently published a first-of-its-kind study that investigates the earning history and potential of Pennsylvania women who applied for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders.

Written by University of Pittsburgh Sociology Professors Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush,“The Price of Protection” examines the effects on women’s earnings before, during and six years after petitioning for PFAs.

The study found “shocks and stalls” in the women’s earning potential in the first year after filing and beyond. These were often due to time off for medical care and court appointments or to find safe housing for herself and/or children in the family.

Since the effects of domestic violence on women’s work and earning potential hasn’t been extensively studied, Hughes and Brush’s work has been highly publicized with features in the New York Times and Jezebel.

Read the full study in the American Sociological Review here.

CMU grad student awarded national prize for screenplay

Savannah Reich, a graduate student in the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama dramatic writing program, won the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize from the Tribeca Film Institute for Best Science-Themed Screenplay. The award recognizes the best student screenplay in the nation that uses science and technology themes in a narrative.

Reich wins $30,000 plus $20,000 if the screenplay goes into production. The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize will boost development of the project and introduce Reich and her work to the industry at large.  

Learn more about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation here.

Pitt scores high in U.S. News & World Report rankings

A number of University of Pittsburgh schools and programs were named in the Best Graduate Schools 2016 guidebook by U.S. News & World Report.

Pitt's School of Nursing ranks No. 5 nationwide, while the School of Medicine places No. 16 in the research category and is tied at No. 19 in primary care of the Best Medical Schools. In medical specialties, Pitt came in at No. 4 in women's health.

Among public universities, Pitt's graduate programs in education, engineering and business all placed in the top 25.

The complete list of best graduate school categories and rankings can be found by ordering the U.S. News & World Report 2016 Guidebook.

Read more about the nation's top graduate programs here.

Pitt students work for real food on campus menus

University of Pittsburgh students and administration have committed to serving 20 percent “Real Food” by 2020.

“This means that Pitt will work towards product shifting to more food that is ecologically sound, humane, fair traded, and locally sourced," said Joelle Weiss, one of four students who advocated for the Real Food initiative.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will attend a campus commitment signing event on March 24 at Nordy's in the William Pitt Union. The event announces Pitt’s willingness to help secure the changes over the next five years and beyond. Real Food Day at Pitt is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 30 in the William Pitt Union.

Pitt is the first Pennsylvania school and the biggest urban campus to sign on to the agreement, according to Weiss. 

Read more about the initiative here.


Pitt pays you back, says The Princeton Review

The University of Pittsburgh has been profiled in The Princeton Review’s 2015 edition of Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In.

The newly released book and online resource is a guide to the academically best and most affordable colleges that hold a high record of post-college employment by their alumni.

The profile praised Pitt as an “Academic Powerhouse;” The Princeton Review included it among the “Best Value” schools by measuring data points such as academics, graduation rates, cost, financial aid, incurred debt and alumni salaries.  

See how Pitt stacks up against comparable colleges here.

CNN documents Pittsburgh's robot renaissance

CNN is the latest news outlet to report on the local robotics industry, with reporter Maggie Lake interviewing Mayor Bill Peduto, Seegrid Corporation President David Heilman, and University of Pittsburgh’s Chris Briem about Pittsburgh’s tech sector.
“Pittsburgh: A once-gritty steel town transformed into a booming tech hub and a leader in the robot revolution,” Lake says.

Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute has spun off more than 30 companies, employing over 1,000 people in the local economy, according to Lake.

Catch the robots in action here.

BBC Popup covering Pittsburgh in November

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s mobile bureau is coming to Pittsburgh in November to report on the stories that make our city pop.

The journalists from across the pond want to hear what stories matter most to us, so they’re inviting students and residents to a community meetup at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Carnegie Mellon’s Newell-Simon Hall 3305.

The BBC Popup will travel to different locations throughout November to create video reports based on the issues that matter most to Pittsburghers. The video stories will be broadcast on BBC World News television and online at BBC.com/popup.

Learn more about the BBC Popup project here.
56 Oakland Articles | Page: | Show All
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