“Don’t change the curriculum. Change the culture.”
That’s the approach of Lenore Blum, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 1999. Rather than changing or “dumbing down” the curriculum, CMU established mentorship programs offering support and continuity from faculty.
That stands in contrast to the commonly-cited “pipeline problem,” which some in Silicon Valley use as the reason their companies aren’t diverse — that there simply aren’t enough minority or female STEM graduates.
Blum said blaming the pipeline is a “mistake.”
“You start with the group you have,” she added, noting that this year’s achievement reflects incremental growth over several decades.
While Harvey Mudd College credited a redesigned curriculum, for bringing in and retaining more female students, Blum and CMU have taken a very different approach.
When Blum joined CMU in 1999, she said there was serious talk of changing the curriculum to attract more women. “I said, ‘No way. You change the culture — not the curriculum.’”
Instead, Blum started Women@SCS, a mentorship organization for female computer science students. Unlike many organizations that are student-run, this particular group is led by faculty, which means there’s continuity even when students graduate. “You need the guidance and institutional support and the memory,” Blum said.
“Encouraging women by giving them a support system and a sense of community is a good idea,” Macallan Cruff, an 18-year-old CMU freshman told CNNMoney. “Don’t dumb down the curriculum.”
Cruff said she’s been pleasantly surprised to see a 50/50 split of men and women in her courses, compared to about four women in a class of 25 in her high school computer science class.
Cruff hopes schools will work to foster a sense of community for students at a much younger age. As a junior in high school, Cruff formed a “Coding Club” at a nearby elementary school to start introducing programming to girls in the third grade.
Blum said Carnegie Mellon is also focused on reaching students before they even enter college. It trains high school teachers on the latest programming languages, which encourages them to spread the word about CMU to their students.
She stressed the importance of having the administration put money behind the school’s efforts and not solely rely on grants.
Blum noted that Silicon Valley has been recruiting Carnegie Mellon’s graduates, an obvious move given that most tech companies are looking for talented candidates, especially female ones.
But she said it could compromise the number of women going on to get computer science PhDs. “I have concerns about that,” she said.
Just a few tickets are left for the Monday, Sept. 26 ATHENA Awards luncheon! Get yours today at Athena-Pittsburgh.com
Eight women – five veteran managers and three emerging leaders – have been selected as finalists for the 2016 ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh. They will be among the many nominees recognized for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the annual ATHENA Awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The awards are presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. One finalist from each category – the traditional ATHENA award, and the ATHENA Young Professional Award – will receive her respective award at the event.
The finalists for the traditional ATHENA award compose a varied and distinguished group. Each woman uses her leadership to create professional excellence and positive regional impact. The finalists are:
Audrey Dunning, CEO, Summa Technologies, Inc.
Kelly Gray, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, FedEx Ground
Diana Reid, Executive Vice President, PNC Real Estate
Tracy Vitale, Superintendent of Schools, Seneca Valley School District
Yvette Williams, Senior Patient Advocate/Program Manager, Allegheny Health Network/The Open Door, Inc.
The ATHENA Young Professional Award (AYPA) will be presented to a woman 35 years of age or younger who exemplifies the traditional ATHENA qualities, with an emphasis on being a role model. The finalists are:
Marteen Garay, Director of Entrepreneurship Programming, Urban Innovation21
Also at the luncheon, ATHENA officials will announce the recipient of the new Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship, named for the ATHENA program’s founder and retired president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an Allegheny Conference affiliate). The scholarship will be awarded annually to one woman age 35 or younger to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. The deadline to apply is July 29 for the academy session that begins Sept. 23. Learn more about the scholarship and the academy here.
Last year’s Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon drew nearly 900 attendees. That makes it among the largest stand-alone events of its kind among the 500-plus communities around the globe that present the award each year.
Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com. Sponsorships are still available; contact ATHENA@alleghenyconference.org.
If flourishing local companies such as Aerotech, Inc., Interstacks and BOSS Controls are examples, the future of advanced manufacturing in Pittsburgh is bright indeed. Each of these companies is successfully integrating technologies and products in ways that sound less like manufacturing and more like the brilliant and improbable ideas of sci-fi visionaries like Isaac Asimov. We profile them here with a note on hiring opportunities at the end.
Commercial properties in the U.S. consume 36% of the nation’s total energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And 30% of that energy is wasted due to phantom energy consumption—energy used when buildings are unoccupied. Phantom energy also includes power consumed by devices that are turned off. Case in point: when a DVR is turned off, it consumes only 10% less energy than it does when it is in use.
Four years ago, founder and CEO Greg Puschnigg led BOSS Controls (BOSS) into the energy space with the introduction of cloud-based smart plugs designed to reduce plug-load energy consumption. BOSS’s use of the term plug-load refers to the energy used by products that are plugged in and powered by an electrical outlet, as well as individual products that are hardwired and powered by an electrical junction box. Plug-load consumption can account for up to 25% of a building’s total energy use. The smart plugs allow property owners to schedule plug-load shutdowns to achieve energy and cost reductions. Because most commercial properties are unoccupied 70% of the time, the savings can be significant.
BOSS’s smart plugs also allow property owners to track energy consumption patterns. The data provided by this IoT (Internet of Things) application can indicate a need for predictive maintenance and equipment repair, or provide insight into other energy-saving opportunities.
Energy reduction opportunities extend beyond air conditioners, copiers and other obvious energy consumers. Property owners can find value in controlling less visible power drains such as appliances, drinking fountains, vending machines, water coolers and other electrical devices. Plug-load shutdowns can be customized to control energy consumption in a manner that best suits the needs of each business.
“Energy savings is a win-win for the customer,” says Puschnigg. “Utility companies are required to generate and maintain 30% power capacity beyond consumption needs at all times. Instead of building a new billion dollar power plant to maintain this idle capacity, utility companies have begun to incentivize end-users who reduce their energy consumption even down to the device level.”
Schools and government entities represent a significant percentage of plug-load energy consumers. Puschnigg references one school district that achieved a two-year ROI (Return on investment) upon its initial deployment of plug-load devices, with a potential savings of four million dollars upon implementation of BOSS’s proposed energy-reduction strategy.
BOSS is a partner organization in the Pittsburgh 2030 District, a collaborative Green Building Alliance initiative to reduce energy consumption. To date, property owners representing nearly 70% of the total real estate square footage in downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland have committed to the initiative’s vision to achieve a 50% reduction in energy consumption by 2030. The City of Pittsburgh is leading by example; in 2015, they began to implement the use of BOSS’s cloud-based smart plugs to reduce energy use in City-occupied buildings.
Precision is a necessity in the manufacturing of complex structures, explains Steve Botos, vp of sales and marketing for Aerotech. The Pittsburgh-headquartered company has perfected the delivery of motion control so precise that it is measured in nanometers.
Aerotech’s technology controls motion in both linear and rotary fashions to deliver pinpoint accuracy. Sometimes the precision of motion relies on the movement of a printer head and other times on the movement of the substrate, or material upon which the printing occurs. Regardless, the requirement for motion control is the same: flawless.
Bioprinting is one of those print applications that requires unquestionable accuracy. “Imagine laying one cell,” says Botos, “moving the equipment away and then returning to that precise location to lay another cell on top of the first.” Aerotech delivers that precision of motion control, a critical factor in the 3D printing of tissue, organs, implants and other revolutionary medical advancements.
The precision of motion can be equally critical for printed circuits and some parts fabrication. As one example, GE recently began testing its GE9X, a 3D printed jet engine that generates 100,000 pounds of thrust. Each engine has 19 3D-printed fuel nozzles that contribute to a 25% reduction in weight, and therefore increased fuel efficiency. “If the mechanics of motion are not sufficient to deliver extreme precision,” says Botos, “then the integrity of these fabricated parts would be compromised.”
In 2014, Aerotech expanded its global headquarters in Pittsburgh, where it now houses more than 300 employees. The company’s reach now extends across three continents, including a new facility in Germany to help address Europe’s growing need for high-precision, high-performance motion control.
Interstacks, a startup incubated inside of Pittsburgh-based MAYA Design, is aptly named. The company builds sensor-based modules that can be stacked one on top of another to create pathways of machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud communications. “It’s the Lego concept for electronics,” says Gary Kiliany, CEO of Interstacks.
Customers can choose any number of Interstacks’ 12 sensor module options to customize the variables they want to track. Examples of sensor capabilities include vibration, temperature, energy consumption, light levels, GPS, humidity and CO2levels. As industrial and public services sectors move toward automation, their need to quantify, analyze and manage these variables becomes vital. It’s all part of the IoT phenomena, the premise that virtually everything will one day be connected to the Internet. By building machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud communication pathways, Interstacks is creating a virtual IoT doorway for its customers.
The feature that differentiates Interstacks’ modules is their ability to circumvent the incompatibility of machine languages. Each module captures a specified type of data, translates it as needed, and then passes it along to the next module and the next, until the accumulation of data reaches the cloud where it is analyzed and sent back to a customer’s central dashboard. Customers can use the dashboard to determine what conditions should trigger notifications. “It works somewhat like a bank account,” says Kiliany, “where customers can receive a notification anytime their balance drops below a pre-determined threshold.”
In this case, Interstacks becomes that mobile notification system, sending alerts when factors critical to daily operations are outside normal allowances. For example, when temperatures are too high or vibrations are too strong, customers can receive alerts and intercept potential equipment failure or assess the need for operational adjustments. This continuous cycle of monitoring and analysis allows companies to respond rapidly so that they can increase efficiency, prevent downtime, and ultimately reduce costs.
An industry looking to hire
One final note to this story: Representatives from Aerotech, Interstacks and BOSS all agree that the manufacturing industry, poised for growth, is hiring as more companies align themselves with advances in 3D printing, smart devices, automation and other new technologies.
Aerotech’s Steve Botos sees the need to draw a new workforce into manufacturing. “It’s not a dirty industry,” he notes. “Aerotech and other manufacturers hire very skilled workers who have an opportunity to work in clean, modern and positive environments.” He believes that the manufacturing industry has plenty of opportunity for solid, family-sustaining wages and benefits. He offers this assessment: “If you have a thirst to work in a cutting-edge, forward-looking industry, then manufacturing is a great place to be.”
BOSS’s Greg Puschnigg echoes this thinking. “BOSS produces smart products that function based on the IoT, but that integration is not eliminating the need for other job sectors. Our business still relies on electrical contractors and installers, as well as traditional manufacturing trades that include precision CNC, machine tooling and assembly.”
Just a few weeks into the fall semester and our universities are already working overtime. Job opportunities with our region’s esteemed educational institutions are in high demand along with 25,000 additional positions currently open across all industries. With the help of ImaginePittsburgh.com, you can build or advance your career in higher education or land a job working in your field at one of our local universities. Information about employers and careers are all within your reach. Our virtual one-stop shop features a powerful aggregator updated nightly from more than a thousand job boards and corporate websites. With ImaginePittsburgh.com, you can also explore the site’s Featured Employers, as well as many great places to live, play and learn in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Here are just a few of the jobs available now with some of our featured Universities:
Uber’s driverless vehicles — the first to hit American roadways — have begun picking up passengers in Pittsburgh.
In a race with Google and Tesla to bring autonomous vehicles to market, Uber is poised to leap ahead thanks in part to the talented engineers that emerge from Carnegie Mellon University, Bloomberg News, Forbesand others have reported.
A few of Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle began appearing on Pittsburgh streets around Labor Day, with a fleet of 100 to be rolled out by year’s end. Cars in Pittsbugh will have safety drivers and co-pilots.
Uber began operating in Allegheny County in early 2014, and recently expanded service to several adjacent counties. In February 2015, the San Francisco based company partnered with CMU to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center just off campus, foucsing on developing long-term technologies. The partnership includes collaboration between Uber and the National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville around mapping, vehicle safety and autonomy technology.
Check out the Bloomberg’s video here, and read the full article here.
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Pittsburgh has jobs: more than 20,000 across 10 counties, including at Uber. Tap into ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers and industries.
STO is a powerful matching tool that connects veterans directly to managers ready to hire for in-demand jobs at regional energy and manufacturing companies. The site has recently be enhanced with a fresh, more user-friendly interface, interface, videos of the types of open jobs, and a direct and personal connection to employers.
And for a limited time — by creating a new profile on the site or accessing one you’ve already created — veterans will receive two free tickets to the Pirates final regular-season home game Sept. 29 at PNC Park.
If you’ve already created a job seeker profile on the site, click here to reset your password (as part of the site revamp) to begin connecting with employers ready to hire. Not sure if you made a profile? Enter your email address in the log in page; if you’ve already created a profile, you will be prompted to update your password. If you haven’t, or if your new to the site, it takes about five minutes to create a basic profile; you can always come back later to tell employers more about your skills and experience.
VETERANS: Even if you’re not job-hunting right now, it’s always a good career move to have your resume out in places where recruiters are looking for talented, hardworking veterans. Sign up here, or pass the word to veterans or returning servicemen or women in your personal and professional networks, on Service To Opportunity®’s social media platforms: Facebook.com/ServiceToOpportunity and Twitter.com/Srv2Opportunity.
EMPLOYERS: Want to post your Pittsburgh region energy or manufacturing jobs on ServiceToOpportunity.org? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like ImaginePittsburgh.com, ServiceToOpportunity.org is a program of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to connect people with family-sustaining careers in southwestern Pennsylvania. Let’s get to work!