Innovation

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Remake Learning began in Pittsburgh 10 years ago to help adults understand how the digital age has changed education and how to best prepare kids for the future.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

No one masters a skill without mistakes, but when you’re a health care provider, screw ups can be deadly. 

In 2016, the National Academy of Sciences found that every year up to 30,000 civilian and military deaths of trauma patients could be prevented if the injured people had received optimal care.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen demonstrators gathered outside a Verizon store in downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday, chatting slogans like “Ho-Ho, Hey-Hey, Net Neutrality is here to stay” and “Pai, Pai, Stop the Lies.” 

Martial Trezzini / AP/Keystone

Analogies are a common problem solving method in research. For example, the Wright Brothers used their knowledge of how balance and weight affect a bicycle to create the first airplane. Velcro was invented when a Swiss engineer took a closer took at the burrs that stuck to his dog's fur.

courtesy: city of Pittsburgh

  When Bill Peduto became mayor of Pittsburgh three years ago, he restructured some of the city departments and created a new one: the Department of Innovation and Performance.

One of his first hires was Pittsburgh native Debra Lam to be the city’s first ever Chief Innovation Officer.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” Lam said. “We took the old city Information Systems Department, which was just an IT department, and (Peduto) saw technology as a means rather than an end; and he wanted to see technology as a driving point to improve the quality of life for Pittsburgh.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Downtown-based investment company BNY Mellon is one of many large organizations trying to change what it means to go to work by providing some of the comforts of home. 

The company opened a new Innovation Center on Monday on the 12th floor of its Grant Street office. 

Employees sat on Adirondack chairs and picnic tables near a bocce court and large windows. Nearby, a kitchenette sat filled with coffee and snacks. Those spaces are what Jen Wagner, head of the Pittsburgh Innovation Center, called collision points.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

About 30 people gathered at Smallman Galley in the Strip District Monday for one of the first events of more than 60 this week geared at including all types of people in innovative practices across the city.

That includes everything from a small business resource fair and a women business leaders breakfast, to several more colorful ideas, like "Pizza Poems" and "Maker Storytime Thursday."

Pittsburgh Health Innovators Finalists In Global Innovation Competition

Nov 24, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

With an initial pool of 192 applicants, the HITLAB World Cup Innovators Summit brings high stakes competition to healthcare innovators internationally. Two Pittsburgh companies, Rubitection and Ristcall, are among the five finalists who will be traveling to New York City in search of the coveted $10,000 grand prize. Rubitection CEO Dr. Sanna Gasperd and Ristcall CEO Srinath Vaddepally sat down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to discuss their products and their prospects in winning the competition.

Screen Grab of alleghenycounty.us / Allegheny County

As mobile devices have become the preferred method of online browsing for many people, more and more websites have had to change to accommodate them. 

That's why this week, Allegheny County launched its redesigned “mobile-friendly” website.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the county's seen a 38 percent increase in mobile users just this year. And he said the majority of the traffic to the site was for finding quick information such as park activities, job postings and tax records.

There is something special going on in Pittsburgh, according to Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools

“We’re excited to showcase the region as a hub of education innovation,” she said.

Implementing Accessible Technology Throughout Pittsburgh

Sep 21, 2015
Michael Coghlan / flickr

Handheld supercomputers, or, what we all know as smartphones, are increasing our access to information more than ever.  Pittsburgh is full of developers and engineers who want to tap into the abilities of that tiny device and improve the lives of individuals by delivering resources directly to their fingers. Representatives from PNC, Carnegie Mellon UniversityIagnosis, NoWait, Better Body ImageSavvior and Tagalong Tours share why the created their “apps” and what need they aim to fill.

Improving Life For People With Disabilities

Jul 15, 2015
HERL / University of Pittsburgh

The Human Engineering Research Laboratories, also known as HERL, is located on the University of Pittsburgh campus is working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. What innovative designs and concepts are in the works? HERL Director Rory Cooper shares some of the technology they have in the works.

Join us this evening beginning at 7 p.m. on 90.5 WESA for a live community forum on our city and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Flickr user Ronald Woan

Mayor Bill Peduto said he receives weekly requests from American cities and abroad asking him to visit and tell the Steel City’s story of resilience.

He couldn’t possibly visit them all, so it’s convenient that 25 municipal, non-profit and business leaders from across the country are coming to Pittsburgh this week for the Innovative + Inclusive City workshop.

courtesy BLK SHP

A traveling team of thinkers, artists and executives arrives in Pittsburgh this week in search of ideas for remaking the U.S. economy.

Members of the Austin-based BLK SHP group — pronounced “black sheep” — are traveling the nation by bus, meeting with entrepreneurs and community leaders, also known as "shepherds," in 20 towns and cities.

In planning the “Rediscovering America’s True North” tour, project director Alexa Clay sought out Rust Belt communities and other formerly industrial areas that are bouncing back from the recession through creativity and grass-roots innovation.

Essential Pittsburgh: Staving Off the Winter Blues

Feb 23, 2015
Hman2 / Flickr

Today's topics: a review of the recent Pennsylvania Democratic Leadership meeting, a new surgical adhesive created by a Pittsburgh company and tips on dealing with the winter blues.

How to Beat the Winter Blues (30:55)

Have the bone chilling temperatures been bringing you down and keeping you indoors? Are you eating too much comfort food and binge watching Netflix to help you deal with the winter? Point Park University Humanities and Human Sciences professor, Brent Robbins offers tips to help combat the winter blues and some actual benefits:

“ Winter season is much more of a melancholy period of time where people sort of get self-reflective and turn more inward…they're not active and out in the streets so much. But along with that, comes I think an opportunity to self-reflect, to think about what we want to accomplish, what we have accomplished so far, changes and goals."

Dawn Biery

Aileen Owens is the Director of Technology and Innovation for the South Fayette School District. Last year she was the recipient of two national awards for Digital Innovation in Learning.

As part of 90.5 WESA’s Life of Learning Initiative, Ms. Owens joins us to discuss her approach to teaching technology. 

Ms. Owens tells us more about the work she did with teaching technologies for k-12 education:

Building Neighborhood Bridges to Innovation

Dec 8, 2014
Peter Radunzel / Flickr

Pittsburgh native, entrepreneur and Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett is an advocate looking to connect the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods to the tech sector. 

He joins us in Studio A for a conversation on how he plans to accomplish this goal.

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Summer camp — it’s not just for kids anymore. 

Teachers from around the Pittsburgh area and from as far away as Alabama this week attended the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette Intermediate School to learn how to embed robotics, computational thinking and game design into their curricula.  

Amidst lights flashing  and lots of beeps, elementary school teachers are playing with, or rather experimenting with, littleBits — tiny circuit boards engineered to snap together with magnets.

A recent report from the Brookings Institution shows that across the U.S. the geography of innovation is shifting dramatically, especially in larger cities. What is emerging are so-called innovation districts, geographic areas where companies, research institutions, start-ups and business incubators are located in close proximity.

Pittsburgh Innovations in Energy

Sep 6, 2013
Ari Moore / Flickr

When it comes to Pittsburgh’s growing energy landscape, innovation does not usually come to mind right away. But the region has been at the forefront of important energy innovations at the private, federal, and university level for more than 100 years.

Two events in the coming weeks aim to bring these worlds together, the Enterprise Forum Pittsburgh and the 3rd annual Energy and Innovation Conference.

Somenametoforget / Flickr

Startup incubators provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their ideas in an affordable space, with resources, mentoring and sometimes funding. They’ve sprung up all over Pittsburgh, especially in East Liberty. 

The Thrill Mill and its incubator space, the Hustle Den, is one of the new kids on the block. And while many incubators are focused on technology, Thrill Mill is supporting some diverse innovators.

For Bobby Zappala founder of the Thrill Mill, it all started when he moved back to Pittsburgh from Washington D.C. in 2006. He says he and his friends wanted to connect with other young people who had interesting business ideas. He says they host regular gatherings which became very popular.

Making Pittsburgh Appealing for Immigration & Innovation

Aug 16, 2013
Autophotomoto / Flickr

Hundreds of immigrants come to Pittsburgh to refine their skills in engineering and the sciences at schools like CMU and University of Pittsburgh. But current immigration laws often cannot keep this potential workforce in the United States.

Brian Kennedy, Vice President of Strategic Services and Government Relations for the Pittsburgh Technology Council says these potential entrepreneurs are leaving Pittsburgh for places that have more comprehensive immigration legislation.

Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, rumors of American manufacturing's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The manufacturing industry in the United States is growing in a very real way, contributing roughly $1.74 trillion to the US GDP on an annual basis for the past several years and continuing to grow. According to Harris, many large name American companies, including GE and Whirlpool, are actually bringing parts of their manufacturing operations back to the US, thereby adding even more manufacturing jobs and openings. Over the past 3 years, manufacturers have added roughly 500,000 new jobs to their operations.

Harris adds that the manufacturing sector isn't close to slowing down.  There are still vacant jobs to fill. The only problem is finding well-trained laborers to fill it.

App Certain: Internet Security On Mobile Devices

Jun 28, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Many parents find it’s important to monitor their child's screen time on the home computer.

But they may not consider the fact that mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets are swiftly becoming our most prominently used computers.

Spencer Whitman, CEO of App Certain says most parents don’t realize what their kids are doing on mobile devices, especially when it comes to apps.

So App Certain gives parents a window into the behavior of the mobile apps their kids are downloading.

Exploring Pittsburgh's Innovation Trends

May 28, 2013
ALung

What happens when Pittsburgh's biggest innovators branch out to new territory?

ALung has been making waves with the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System. They've gathered major funding to sell in Europe and now China. But big questions must be raised about intellectual property rights. How can companies protect themselves and flourish at the same time?

And right now one of the hottest trends in the startup world is hardware. Instead of building apps and Web products, companies are building physical hardware that you can buy and use, like the folks at 4Moms.

Pop City Innovation News

May 21, 2013
Pop City Media

Innovative product development and manufacturing is not new in Pittsburgh. Each week, Pop City tech and innovation reporter Deb Smit has a plethora of companies and concepts to choose from when reporting on the next big thing.

Pop City Innovation News

Mar 26, 2013
Pop City Media

  Each week, the e-zine Pop City publishes stories of Pittsburgh’s newest innovations, startups and more. Pop City Tech and Innovation reporter Debra Smit joins us now for a look at Pittsburgh’s innovation news. Could Pittsburgh become a hub for "big data?"

Talking TechShop and Innovation with Deb Smit

Feb 28, 2013
Pop City Media

Pop City reporter, Debra Diamond Smit returns with a look at TechShop Pittsburgh, an innovative way for people to test out their manufacturing ideas. And Birchmere Ventures, a big name in venture capital starts funding the little guys with Birchmere Labs.