Forging Innovation

Catalyzing economic development in Pittsburgh through collaborative discussion and emergent thought.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Viva La Resistance! - Parents Fight Back at USC

According to the Post-Gazette:
A group of 10 Upper St. Clair families filed suit in federal court this morning claiming five members of the school board improperly voted to terminate the International Baccalaureate program in February.

At a news conference at the Upper St. Clair municipal building this morning, Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and lawyers from the firm Schmader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, said the suit claims five board members retaliated against parents, administrators and students who supported IB because they were publicly critical of the board members during the fall election and actively campaigned against them.
Yes! I am glad that there are some folks in USC that have the good sense to fight to save the IB program. Things like this definitely give me hope that Pittsburgh can continue to grow into a more progressive and forward-thinking region. Happy day. Later fan-boys.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Upper St. Clair Kills IB Program

I am sad to say that the Upper St. Clair (USC) School Board has officially killed the International Baccalaureate program in a 5-4 vote. According to the Post Gazette:

Dr. Iracki and other newly elected members of the board expressed opposition to the program on the grounds that it is Marxist, anti-Christian, un-American and too costly.

As a native of USC and an older brother to a student that was participating in the program, I would like to go on the record stating that the decision is an embarrassment to the community and a step backwards for education in the region. I mean seriously, does the rationale of the school board sound like a load of "you-know-what" to anyone else? Marxist? Anti-Christian? un-American? Does this reek of McCarthyism to anyone else?

It amazes me that the esteemed members of the school board have elected to take away a key program that affords their most gifted students an edge in an increasingly competitive college application landscape. It only costs $80K/year. You are telling me the USC cannot afford that? Please.

For those of you that are interested in the issue, there is an interesting conversation on Madison's blog on the topic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue as well. Sheesh.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pittsburgh Event - Mike Madison Attending HELP Meeting this Week

Mike Madison, Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Pittsblog, will be attending the monthly HELP meeting this Tuesday, February 21st, 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Upstairs Room, Doc's, Shadyside. See info below.
Michael Madison is THE hot blogger on entrepreneurship and business development in Pittsburgh. His blog post on the Allegheny Conference a couple of months ago was republished in the Post-Gazette and stirred up lots of discussion. Most of the "movers & shakers" keep a watchful eye on what Mike has to say, as he influences a lot of thought around town.

Mike is really "in tune" with what HELP is working for and is part of our efforts to have quarterly entrepreneurial meetups (see article on the left). Just like last month's meeting with Cori Shropshire, this will be a back and forth session with questions addressed to and from Mike.
It should be an interesting meeting. For those of you that are interested in getting a grassroots perspective on the Pittsburgh economic development scene, I highly recommend that you attend.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Former Allegheny Conference Guru is Blogging!

Harold Miller, the former Allegheny Conference leader and economic development guru, is back- this time on the web. The Post-Gazette recently had a story discussing his new project Pittsburgh's Future. No surprise that Cori Shropshire did the story. She is always deep into this scene. By the way, Cori recently apprised me that somebody actually reads my blog. Who woulda thunk it!?! Hello Natalia - thanks for your support.

Anyway, I had the pleasure of meeting Harold last summer when HELP approached them for help (no pun intended) with a new "two-way" portal to accelerate entrepreneurial efforts in the region. This was part of my personal "push" to really understand the economic development scene in the region. Unfortunately, I was not overly thrilled with what I found/experienced. Alas, that is another story, for another time...

Long story short, Harold recently reached out to me and was kind enough to let me know that he recently moved into to Pittsburgh's corner of the blogosphere. He is a really smart guy and should have some interesting things to contribute to the discussion. I highly recommend checking out his blog whenever you have a chance.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Picture Story of Oakland Post Superbowl XL


Pretty crazy.

Pretty Stupid.

You get the picture.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pittsburgh First!

I recently learned of a number of interesting Firsts that occured in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. This is a great list of things to keep in mind when talking about Pittsburgh. It's a good reminder that Pittsburgh is really a world-class city - and that we can expect many more Firsts here in the years to come! It also means that all of you trying to achieve new Firsts are in very good company!

First Heart, Liver, Kidney Transplant - December 3, 1989 The first simultaneous heart, liver and kidney transplant was done at Presbyterian-University Hospital.

The First Internet Emoticon - 1980 The Smiley :-) was the first Internet emoticon, created in 1980 by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

First Robotics Institute - 1979 The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1979 to conduct basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks. The college is still working on Robots ~~ in fact it is their robots used in the unmanned air crafts that fly over Iraq.

First Mr. Yuk Sticker - 1971 Mr. Yuk was created at the Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh after research indicated that the skull and crossbones previously used to identify poisons had little meaning to the children of today (for most children it means exciting things like pirates and adventure). Covering 27 counties and 33 percent of Pennsylvania's population, the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is the largest such center in the United States.

First Big Mac - 1967 Created by Jim Delligatti at his Uniontown McDonald's, the Big Mac debuted and was test marketed in three other Pittsburgh-area McDonald's restauran ts in 1967. By 1968 it was a mainstay on McDonald's menus throughout the country and eventually, the world.

First Pull-Tab on Cans - 1962 The pull-tab was developed by Alcoa and was first used by Iron City Brewery in 1962. For many years, pull-tabs were only used in this area.

First Retractable Dome - September 1961 Pittsburgh's Civic Arena boasts the world's first auditorium with a retractable roof. (This is still being used although the Hockey team wants to tear it down and build a new building).

First U.S. Public Television Station - WQED - April 1, 1954 WQED, operated by the Metropolitan Pittsburgh Educational Station, was the first community-sponsored educational television station in America and was also the first to te lecast classes to elementary schools (1955).

First Polio Vaccine - March 26, 1953 The polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas E. Salk, a 38-year-old University of Pittsburgh researcher and professor, and his staff at the University of Pittsburgh.

First All-Aluminum Building - ALCOA - August 1953 The first aluminum-faced skyscraper was the Alcoa Building, a 30-story, 410 foot structure with thin stamped aluminum panels forming the exterior walls. (This building is still being used today.)

First Zippo Li ghter - 1932 George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932 in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Although hardly a community "in the surrounding area," you can even find the name of the manufacturing location, either Bradford or Niagara Falls, Canada, stamped on the bottom of every Zippo lighter. The name Zippo was chosen by Blaisdell because he liked the sound of the word "zipper" - which was patented around the same time in nearby Meadville, PA.

First Bingo Game - early 1920's Hugh J. Ward first came up with the concept of bingo in Pittsburgh and began running the game at carnivals in the early 1920s, taking it nation-wide in 1924 . He secured a copyright on the game and wrote a book of Bingo rules in1933.

First U.S. Commercial Radio Station - KDKA - November 2, 1920 Dr. Frank Conrad, assistant chief engineer of Westinghouse Electric, first constructed a transmitter and installed it in a garage near his home in Wilkinsburg in 1916. The station was licensed as 8XK. (Now there's a real trivia question) At 6 p.m. on Nov. 2, 1920, 8KX became KDKA Radio and began broadcasting at 100 watts from a makeshift shack atop one of the Westinghouse manufacturing buildings in East Pittsburgh.

The First Gas Station - December, 1913 In 1913, the first automobile service station, built by Gulf Refining Company, opened in Pittsburgh at Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in East Liberty. It was designed by J. H. Giesey.

The First Baseball Stadium in the U.S. - 1909 In1909 the first baseball stadium, Forbes Field, was built in Pittsburgh, followed soon by similar stadiums in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and New York. Forbes Field closed in 1970 when Three Rivers Stadium opened. PNC Park is the newest replacement, accepted as perhaps the best ballpark in the country, which opened in 2001.

First Motion Picture Theater - 1905 The first theater in the world devoted to the exhibition of motion pictures was the "Nickelodeon," opened by Harry Davis on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh.

First Banana Split - 1904 The banana split was invented by Dr. David Strickler, a pharmacist, at Strickler's Drug Store in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The First World Series - 1903 The Boston Pilgrims defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three in baseball's first modern World Series in 1903. The Pirates lost the final game 4-3, before a crowd of 7,455 in Boston. Four of the series' games were played in Pittsburgh.

First Night World Series Game - 1971 Game 4 of the 1971 World Series was the first night game in Series history. Pittsburgh tied the series in that game with a 4-3 win and went on to win the series, 4 games to 3. This was one of the last big moments in the career of well-loved Pirate, Roberto Clemente. Fourteen and a half months after the 1971 World Series, he died in a plane crash off the coast of his native Puerto Rico as he attempted to take food, clothing and medical supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

First Ferris Wheel - 1892/1893 The first Ferris Wheel, invented by Pittsburgh native and civil engineer, George Washington Gale Ferris (1859-1896) was in operation at the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) in Chicago. It was over 264 feet high and was capable of carrying more than 2,000 passengers at a time.

Long-Distance Electricity - 1885 Westinghouse Electric developed alternating current, allowing long-distance transmission of electricity for the first time.

First Air Brake - 1869 The first practical air brake for railroads was invented by George Westinghouse in the 1860s and patented in 1869. In the same year he organized the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. With additional automatic features incorporated into its design, the air brake became widely accepted, and the Railroad Safety Appliance Act of 1893 made air brakes compulsory on all American trains.

Not bad for a city known for it's FORMER SMOKE! If you know of some more Firsts, please post them!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hot Technology Companies Leveraging Carnegie Mellon

Google has recently been added to the list of technology power-houses that have set up shop in Pittsburgh in order to leverage the top-flight talent and ideas out of Carnegie Mellon University.

Creating and commercializing innovation is the key to creating a self-sustaining economy. By putting together leading academic researchers from places like Carnegie Mellon and Pitt with private sector firms, the probability of creating commercially viable research technologies goes up tremendously. Not only will this fuel innovation, but they create jobs. It is also estimated that Google's move will result in 100+ new jobs in Pittsburgh. Not bad eh?

This is definitely a step in the right direction. I applaud CMU for making it happen and hope that we continue to make it easier for high-technology companies to come to Pittsburgh and build our economy.