Bonnie Pfister

It’s been energizing and exciting to encounter the more than 1,500 students from 65 nations gathered in Pittsburgh this week for the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF), continuing May 18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown.

Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, in which young scientists compete for more than $4 million in prizes and scholarships. Today (May 17) the public can visit all day. Students — including seven teams from the Pittsburgh region — will be displaying their exhibits from 10 a.m until 2 p.m.

Check out the video below as students gather and encounter a “rock star” in microbiology, Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop. He’s one of seven Nobel Prize winners — as well as dozens of science and engineering heavy-hitters from the Pittsburgh region — judging the competition this week.

Amanda Sennert

Anticipation is mounting for the the One Young World Summit, which brings its third gathering to Pittsburgh in October. Organizers say they have already registered 1,000 delegates, approaching the goal of 1,500.

One Young World flags welcome delegates in Zurich, 2011 / Photo by Amanda Sennert

The summit is an annual event for young future leaders, bringing together delegates in their 20s to tackle the same issues and topics our world leaders address every day. Topics range from education, sustainable development, global health, social business, youth unemployment and the role of global business versus government. Businesses and organizations may send some of their outstanding young professionals to participate, or sponsor delegates from other non-profits and countries. “Delegate Champions” with a Pittsburgh presence include Alcoa, Bayer, Google, Heinz and PNC, among others.

This is an excellent opportunity for businesses to invest in their emerging leaders or other youth leaders around the world. As a participant in last year’s gathering in Zurich, I had the opportunity to hear from such high-profile counselors such as Achbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof, and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, and to network with peers from around the world. Organizations interested in sponsoring delegates are encouraged to apply here.

Amanda Sennert was a delegate to the 2011 One Young World summit in Zurich, Switzerland. Click here to read previous coverage of One Young World, and here to check out her photos on Imagine Pittsburgh’s Flickr stream.

Kristen Freiss

In a few short days, Leadership Pittsburgh’s Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) Class XIX will shower Pittsburgh’s Upper Lawrenceville neighborhood with plenty of love. The PopUp! Pittsburgh project, “We Do. (Take Two): An Upper Lawrenceville Love Story,” will invite Pittsburgh area lovebirds to rekindle their love to each other and to Upper Lawrenceville on Saturday, May 19 in the Goodwill parking lot at 52nd Street at 2 p.m.

Dora Walmsley and Joshua Carter are among the many who have met and fallen in love in -- and with -- Lawrenceville.

Couples all across the Pittsburgh area have already signed up to participate in the mass vow renewal ceremony which will be officiated by Pennsylvania State Sen. Jim Ferlo. Lawrenceville residents Joshua Carter and Dora Walmsley will participate in Saturday’s ceremony and are excited to celebrate their love.

“We met three and a half years ago by chance at Lawrenceville’s own Thunderbird Cafe. We talked the remainder of the night and I walked her home at last call,” Carter said. “We now live together on Hatfield Street with our dog Louie. I would not change a thing and I love having Dora in my life. I am glad to be a Lawrenceville couple and am proud to call it home.”

Following the vow renewal ceremony, other activities for the day include a musical performance by Upper Lawrenceville’s own Slim Forsythe and his New Payday Loners; the premier of a documentary highlighting Upper Lawrenceville; games; and food and drink donated by Upper Lawrenceville restaurants.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Pittsburgh wedding without the traditional cookie table. We Do. (Take Two) is attempting to create Pittsburgh’s largest cookie table. Guests are encouraged to bring a dozen or more to add to the count.

Even the local media has shown some love to this vibrant neighborhood with recent publicity on the event in publications including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PopCity Media and Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pittsburgh Perfect Weddings e-newsletter, among others.

So, if you’ve been waiting for the right moment to renew your love to that special someone, now is the time! Register online at to share your own love story, and let us know why Upper Lawrenceville is important to you!

Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) a nine-month leadership training program for young professionals. It’s a program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., which is focused on top emerging talent within regional organizations.

Ben Kamber

More than 1,500 of the brightest high school students from throughout the world have come to Pittsburgh for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held May 13-18, 2012. That this highly prestigious 50+ year old event is in Pittsburgh says a lot about the region’s capacity to support the science fair, which requires more than 900 advanced degree holders to act as judges. Judy Hallinen, assistant vice provost for education outreach at Carnegie Mellon University and Chuck Kahle, CTO at PPG Industries, sat on the committee to help recruit judges and promote the fair regionally.

Over the course of 15 years, the Carnegie Science Awards have honored more than 275 individuals for their accomplishments in science, technology, engineering and math. This year’s awardees were celebrated on May 11 at a reception at Carnegie Music Hall. Ann Metzger and Ron Baillie, co-directors of the Carnegie Science Center, discuss how a STEM education is vital for growing the next generation workforce.

One of this year’s Carnegie Science Award recipients, the Math and Science Collaborative provides professional development programming in math and science to teachers in 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Nancy Bunt, program director at the Math and Science Collaborative and Dr. Ron Sofo, superintendent at Freedom Area School District in Beaver County discuss the collaborative and the value it offers to students and teachers throughout the region.

Our Region’s Business” airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Bill Flanagan

If you see lots of very young people around Pittsburgh this week wearing Intel ISEF name badges, be sure to give them a warm welcome. They’re competitors in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Pittsburgh is one of three cities selected by the Society for Science & the Public to host the prestigious event over the course of this decade. Los Angeles and Phoenix are the other two. Yep, that’s right: Pittsburgh’s the only place east of the Mississippi to host this event.

Intel ISEF 2012 is the world’s largest high school science research competition. More than 1,500 students have been selected from 446 affiliate fairs in approximately 70 countries, regions and territories to share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research and inventions, and compete for more than $3 million in awards.

In addition to welcoming our guests, we also have a “home team” to cheer for; seven Pittsburgh area students are competing with projects such as an improved cancer treatment, a model car that runs on pavement heat and new iPhone-based sensing technology to assist those with sight limitations.

"Best of the World" images are greeting visitors on billboards and PG-TV screens around town.

Working with our partners at VisitPittsburgh and thanks to the generosity of Lamar and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, we’ve been able to post welcoming messages on digital billboards on the Parkway West and on PG-TV screens in convenience stores and coffee shops throughout the region. We’re emphasizing our region as a center for higher education, R&D and innovation, and hoping the hundreds of students visiting this week might consider applying to one of our region’s 35 colleges and universities. Something like 25 percent of the science fair contestants already holds patents for their inventions.

Hundreds of Pittsburghers have stepped up to help stage the fair – more than 900 local scientists, engineers and medical professionals have volunteered to serve as judges, and hundreds more people are helping with the hospitality and serving as interpreters. Recently we focused on the effort on Our Region’s Business.

In addition, the Allegheny Conference has organized a Pittsburgh ISEF Symposium – “Energy to the Power of Pittsburgh: Young Leaders and Energy Solutions” — on Tuesday, May 15. In what may be the only Pittsburgh-specific symposium of the fair, Catherine DeLoughry, our senior VP of communication and public affairs, pulled together a crew of local people not much older than ISEF participants to talk about the impact they’re having in the Pittsburgh region, especially in the energy sector. We’ll touch on our region’s energy expertise and then highlight two projects where we can see science and engineering talent at work – the about-to-open Phipps’ “Living Building” (one of the first in the world) and the on-its-way Tower at PNC that’s going to take green building to a new global scale.

One really cool element of all of this is “Pittsburgh Day” on Thursday, May 17, when local companies, organizations schools and teachers bring 4,000 students from more than 50 schools across our region to see the fair, meet the entrants and participate in hands-on science activities. Talk about a great way to set the bar for excellence in achievement in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and math!

Intel ISEF is one of the “big three” national and international conferences featuring thousands of young people that we’ve been targeting this year in partnership with VisitPittsburgh as part of our “Best of the World” initiative. The National Society of Black Engineers held their national conference here in March (check out our blog coverage of it here) and the One Young World summit will provide the grand finale in October. Not only is there signage inside and outside the convention center speaking to opportunity in the region, but in partnership with the Allegheny County Airport Authority, this month we’ve produced an in-flight video about Pittsburgh that’s running system-wide on Delta Air Lines. We’re literally trying to catch these young people coming and going to encourage them to imagine what they can do here.

(It’s worth noting that both Intel ISEF and One Young World trace their decisions to choose Pittsburgh in part to the attention received around the G-20 Summit in 2009. The success of that event demonstrated our region’s ability to host major, international events.)

Please help us spread the word about Pittsburgh as a “Best of the World” magnet for young people in 2012.

Bill Flanagan

For several years now, our region’s economy has been outperforming the national average. It’s an unusual position for us to be in, since nothing like this has happened here in a generation. It also is creating a set of challenges we aren’t used to – more jobs than people. For some time now we’ve been monitoring a “skills gap” through our career awareness website, At any given time there seem to be more than 10,000 open jobs across 10 counties of the Pittsburgh region and across a variety of industries. So, why — when this region’s unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) was 7.1  percent in March (compared to 8.4 percent nationally) — can’t we find people to fill these jobs?

Well, the answer is that many of the people looking for work simply don’t have the skills required to fill the positions that are opening up in our more knowledge-driven economy. And there’s every reason to believe that the situation is only going to become more challenging. Not only are employers across our region creating new jobs, the Baby Boom generation has begun to retire. Over time these trends are only going to generate even more job openings.

I recently had the honor of moderating a discussion about “Industry, Trades & Skills” at the Robert M. Mill Lecture Series at the Community College of Allegheny County. A standing-room-only crowd turned out for the keynote speaker, the Honorable Hilda Solis, the U.S.  Secretary of Labor and for her conversation with Morgan O’Brien, president and CEO of Peoples Natural Gas, and Michael Dunleavy, business manager for IBEW Local 5. Secretary Solis applauded our region’s existing efforts to come to grip with the skills gap. She cited such programs as New Century Careers that train workers for in-demand jobs in manufacturing and the recent Bots IQ competition that brings together high school teams to learn manufacturing skills through building and battling robots. As she notes in the video clip below, the nation as a whole is confronting a skills gap, with more than three million jobs going unfilled across the country.

Recognizing CCAC graduate Robert M. Mill, the lecture series is designed to set the stage a forum for open communication between all who will benefit from a future of positive labor-management relations and economic development in western Pennsylvania. I’m a member of the series’ advisory committee.