Zersha Munir
Director of the Creative Technology Network Kim Harvey, AIU Curriculum and Reading Coordinator Megan Cicconi, and Pittsburgh Tech Council CEO Audrey Russo attend.
Pittsburgh Tech Council’s Kim Chestney Harvey, AIU’s Megan Cicconi and Pittsburgh Tech Council’s CEO Audrey Russo attend the event.

Smith Micro Software, Inc. and Sprint are getting animated over the Avatar Challenge, their joint, national initiative being launched in Pittsburgh and urging students to combine art and technology.

The Avatar Challenge will run from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, during which students will use Smith Micro’s animation software to create avatar characters. Winning avatars and their artists will gain national exposure when featured on Sprint’s Visual Voicemail Service with recognition to the student. This opportunity allows the students’ digital art to be viewed and used by millions nationwide, providing far-reaching exposure early-on in their careers.

“One of the reasons we came to Pittsburgh was because we knew about all of the fine schools and a large talent base to find good people,” said Bill Smith, Smith Micro CEO, at a news conference at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “We can power Pittsburgh students.”

Educators from any accredited secondary school, college or career training school will be able to register for free copies of Smith Micro’s award-winning Anime Studio® animation software for themselves and their students. Its Avatar Challenge complements the latest STEAM learning programs, originally STEM, with the addition of the arts to fully round-out today’s students for tomorrow’s careers where these five skills will be critical for success.

Students can use the software for general animation such as comic books and music videos. Smith Micro will offer video tutorials and teaching guides to incorporate the software into the class curriculum. Students can then apply the skills they’ve learned to create a winning avatar that will be featured in the app as the “Sprint Avatar of the Month.”

“By learning to use Anime Studio, students will quickly find that marrying art and technology can be very rewarding, and the Sprint avatar feature provides an amazing, nationwide platform to showcase their designs.  Everybody wins with this program,” said CEO Smith.

Among the benefits to participants in the Avatar Challenge:

  • Eligible teachers will receive one free license to download Anime Studio Pro 10 for their own use, and up to 15 free licenses to download Anime Studio Debut for student use
  • Free step-by-step video tutorials for Anime Studio available online
  • Teachers can purchase the Anime Studio Curriculum Guide at a discount
  • Beginning October 1, students can submit animated characters to enter the “Sprint Avatar of the Month” contest
  • AniMates-FamilyThe top 10 qualifying designs will earn a free copy of Smith Micro’s Artist Bundle Debut software pack
  • Sprint and Smith Micro will select a winning design each month to be featured on the main screen of the Sprint Avatar service for 30 days
  • Student winners will receive a $2,000 scholarship from Smith Micro, as well as professional versions of Anime Studio, Poser, Manga Studio and Motion Artist animation tools
  • Winning designs will remain available in a special “Sprint Avatar Winner’s Circle” of the Avatar content library, viewable by millions of Sprint customers using Sprint Visual Voicemail on their Android devices, and shareable with anyone via mobile messaging, email or Facebook
Zersha Munir

Pittsburgh’s got jobs — 24,111 open as of today in the 10-county region on the ImaginePittsburgh.com job search engine. That’s  a one-stop aggregator of career postings updated daily from more than 900 jobs boards, corporate websites and search engines.

Here are few on offer right now:

Global Logistics Manager at RTI International Metals

Staff Accountant at EQT Corporation

Senior Tax Specialist at BNY Mellon

Reception Administration at PJ Dick

Assistant Controller at Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Bookmark our page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

Zersha Munir

Join the Allegheny Conference on Community Development on Monday, September 29 for the 2014 ATHENA & ATHENA Young Professional Awards Luncheon. Five finalists have been selected from a pool of 25 outstanding nominees and will be recognized for their professional excellence, community involvement and mentorship of fellow women during a luncheon at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Linda Croushore, executive director, The Consortium for Public Education
  • Diane Holder, executive vice president, UPMC; president, UPMC Insurance Services Division; president & chief executive officer, UPMC Health Plan
  • Susan Kirsch, shareholder – tax advisory services, Schneider Downs
  • Karen Larrimer, chief customer officer and chief marketing officer, PNC
  • Suzy Teele, chief operating officer, SnapRetail

The ATHENA Young Professional Award, which honors a woman 35 years of age who exemplifies ATHENA qualities and functions as a role model in her community, also received 25 nominations. This is the AYPA’s fourth year and three finalists have been selected, including:

  • Stephanie Garbe, compliance senior specialist, PNC
  • Amelia Papapetropoulos, sales manager, Lightning Energy Services
  • Sabrina Saunders, executive director, Strong Women Strong Girls

Don’t miss out–last year’s luncheon was the largest stand-alone event of its kind in the world, drawing in nearly 900 attendees.

Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online and you can keep updated by liking and following Pittsburgh’s ATHENA Awards on Facebook and Twitter.

The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA & AYPA Awards Program is made possible by support from UPMC Health Plan; Citizens Bank; KPMG LLP; Pittsburgh Magazine; WTAE-TV; Bayer MaterialScience LLC; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.; The Ellis School; Fox Rothschild, LLP and PPG Industries, Inc.

Bill Flanagan

I’m happy here in the Pittsburgh region. How about you?

Not to say things can’t be better, but I was surprised by a report last week from researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. The team concluded that Pittsburgh was the “second-unhappiest” city in America, second only to New York.

The report was surprising to me not only because Pittsburgh is at or near the top of many lists – focusing on everything from affordability to stress-free living – but because so many things seem to be going our way these days. Pittsburgh was one of three U.S. metros to lead the nation out of recession, the region’s jobless rate has been consistently below the national average for years and we’ve been recognized as one of the “Best Places” in the world to visit.

Clearly, the researchers missed something.

Now, with the help of MARC USA, a number of very happy Pittsburghers are setting out to set the record straight. Starting today we’re inviting everyone in the region to use the hashtag #HappyinPittsburgh with your posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Google+ to tell the world what makes you happy in Pittsburgh.

Let’s create a groundswell of Pittsburgh happiness and show how socially savvy we are at the same time. Let’s make “Happy in Pittsburgh” a trending topic and the source of more good news about the region.

The social media team at MARC USA will track and compile all the posts and share the results at the end of the week. Then we’ll share them with you.

We’ve Got Jobs (Now!) … With More to Come
If you need a few talking points, tell your friends and family about the 24,260 jobs available today across the 10-county region. They can find them on the ImaginePittsburgh.com jobs aggregator, which is updated nightly from more than 900 corporate websites and job boards (including Monster, Career Builder, LinkedIn and Craigslist). Many of those jobs offer family-sustaining wages with room to grow. More than half require some IT skills, a reflection of the knowledge-based economy that’s been created here over the past generation. Occupations in high demand include RNs and nursing assistants; computer systems analysts, support specialists and software developers; and commercial truck drivers maintenance and repair workers and salespeople.

“Baseball and the ‘Burgh Weekend” Sweepstakes
There’s so much going on that ImaginePittsburgh.com is partnering with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball to encourage baseball fans to come visit. We’re running a sweepstakes for a “Baseball and the ‘Burgh Weekend” through the Pirates website from now through the end of August. To be eligible to win, you have to live outside a 75-mile radius from the Point, but no matter where you are, you can help us spread the word. We’re targeting baseball fans within a 300-mile radius of Pittsburgh, along with people in San Juan, Puerto Rico, building on the success of the re-launch of ¡Hola Pittsburgh! last month. And there’s the Pittsburgh – Roberto Clemente connection, too. Aug, 18 would have been the “Great One’s” 80th birthday.

¡Hola Pittsburgh! Puts Pittsburgh on the Map in Puerto Rico
Thousands turned out on Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh on June 22 for the Pittsburgh premiere, of El Gran Combo, billed as “the Rolling Stones of Salsa.” The concert, sponsored by ImaginePittsburgh.com and Fifth Third Bank, was one of the featured attractions of JazzLive International, presented by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The Allegheny Conference teamed up with the Hispanic Chamber and numerous other partners to bring the world-famous band to Pittsburgh as part of its talent attraction and retention program, Imagine Pittsburgh.com. It turns out that thousands of Puerto Ricans are leaving the island every year, many of them skilled in healthcare, financial services and engineering. The goal of ¡Hola Pittsburgh! is to put our region on the map in Puerto Rico and among Latinos across the United States. Vibrant Pittsburgh will be hitting the road with job and career fairs to spread the word.

VisitPittsburgh organized a media tour around the El Gran Combo concert. The resulting publicity – including this piece in El Vocero (English version here) — drove thousands of Puerto Ricans to ImaginePittsurgh.com. In fact, Puerto Rico represented 47 percent of total traffic to the site the week of July 7. We think we’re on to something – a population “on the move” that’s receptive to an appeal from Pittsburgh. The ¡Hola Pittsburgh! partners intend to stay on the case to help meet the growing demand for skilled workers in our region.

Most Affordable Place to Retire
Of course, you don’t need to have a job or even to be looking for one to consider Pittsburgh. It turns out our region is among the “most affordable” places to retire in the United States. The SimpleDollar.com has conducted an analysis of more than 200 communities across the U.S. to determine the 10 most affordable ones

Our region ranks ninth, the only major metro in the Top 10. Why?

Researchers noted that our cost-of-living index score is about 16 points below the national average, with median home costs at $76,700, and average apartment rents around $684.
“Pittsburgh provides seniors with the opportunity to continue their education through a diverse selection of courses and seminars offered by the various institutions located in the city as well as cultural amenities such as the symphony, ballet, opera, and many museums,” the article pointed out. “Lovers of sports also have plenty of top-notch teams to follow, making the Steel City as a great choice for an affordable retirement destination.”

So, what’s not to be happy about?

As always, thanks for your commitment to our region and for helping to spread the word.


Photo courtesy of Erika Gidley
Photo courtesy of Erika Gidley

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh.com.

Nestled in a valley along the Ohio River, the West End Village is on the cusp of a comeback.

Just two miles from downtown, the community once considered a gateway to the city of Pittsburgh is striving to reclaim its place through the restoration of a vibrant main street that serves the 297 residents who live here.

Originally the Borough of Temperanceville, the community officially became the West End when it was annexed to the city of Pittsburgh in 1872. A bit of rebranding a few years ago lead to its new “village” moniker.

Through the years, the West End Village has struggled with its share of unfortunate redevelopment decisions. Several blocks along Main Street were razed to make way for the business district, a decision that saddened many over the loss of several local landmarks.

Despite the setback, the community continues to make positive gains assisted by its great location, location, location. In 2009, the Urban Redevelopment Authority declared the West End Village as a Main Street Pittsburgh District.

More than 150 businesses have moved into Main Street and continue to work together in promoting the area as a design district anchored by the success of businesses like James Gallery, Artifacts and Ceramiche Tiles.

Photo courtesy of NEXTpittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Erika Gidley

Delightful restaurants abide as well. Tartine is a hidden gem with a classic French menu for breakfast and lunch. The Village Tavern and Trattoria is a family restaurant famous for its huge portions, pastas and pizzas.

The Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, one of the premiere training studios for dance, voice and theatre in the region, also calls the West End Village home. The West End Overlook Park on the hillside remains a popular place for walkers and skateboarders. The newly reconfigured West End circle has eased traffic flow considerably.

Real estate in the surrounding community has remained reasonable, home to residents and families of mostly modest means. One notable exception is an extravagant development that has yet to break ground, The Overlook at West End Pointe.

Four Craftsman-style homes will be built on the bluff. The 3,800 square-foot townhomes will be five-stories with a rooftop observation terrace and spectacular views. They will be listed starting at $890,000.

Zersha Munir

Where can you find 23,667 job listing for the Pittsburgh region — all in one place? ImaginePittsburgh.com, that’s where! Each night our powerful job aggregator scrapes more than 900 corporate websites and job search engines for listings across the 10-county Pittsburgh region. So it’s no longer necessary to go to Monster, then Career Builder, then US Jobs and on and on. We bring it all to you in one convenient place.

Brand Manager at PPG Architectural Finishes

Customer Service Desk Clerk at Giant Eagle

Teacher Aide at The Children’s Institute

Sales Engineer at Teletracking Technologies

Inventory and Materials Analyst at Alcoa

Deeplocal is holding a recruiting event at Bayardstown next Thursday, July 31, from 6-9 p.m.

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.