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A partnership between Uber and Carnegie Mellon gets rocky

Uber and Carnegie Mellon announced a partnership earlier this year, then things got interesting. Slate examines the knotty situation.

Earlier this year, Carnegie Mellon University excitedly announced a “strategic partnership” with Uber, the Silicon Valley ride-hailing startup. The deal was to kick-start Uber’s efforts to build driverless taxis, while the company funded faculty chairs and graduate fellowships at Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center, one of the nation’s top robotics labs.
 
Win-win, right?

Less than four months later, it’s looking more like win-lose. Using its venture capital windfall to offer six-figure signing bonuses and mammoth raises, Uber has reportedly hired away 40 of Carnegie Mellon’s researchers and scientists, including the robotics lab’s director and most of its leaders. The Wall Street Journal called it a “raid” that “left one of the world’s top robotics research institutions in a crisis.” The lab had expected to bring in $30 million this year in contracts with the Department of Defense and others, the WSJ reported. That’s down to $17 million thanks to the departure of the researchers who were handling many of those contracts....


But wait: Before we chalk this up as yet another case of Uber being evil and tech startups using their piles of venture capital to trample on the little guy, it’s worth taking a closer look at who’s actually been harmed here. It isn’t the poached researchers, who find themselves flush with cash and resources. It certainly isn’t the city of Pittsburgh, whose burgeoning tech sector suddenly is stealing headlines (and jobs) from Silicon Valley as Uber sets up shop there. And, in the long run, this should even be good for NREC itself.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here.

PA man takes 5,000th ride on local roller coaster

An 82-year-old man celebrated his 5,000th ride on a beloved coaster over the holiday weekend. It took more than eight hours and 95 spins.

Vic Kleman, 82, marked the milestone Sunday on the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin. His number of rides honored the roller coaster's 95th birthday this season.

"I feel great!" said Kleman, a retired general manager of a wholesale grocery firm and a local actor. "I made sure to move my legs throughout the day to keep from getting stiff after sitting so long."


In 2010, Kleman also said he felt "great" after notching his 4,000th ride on the wooden coaster, which dates back to 1920 and has an 85-foot double-dip drop. He rode the coaster 90 times that day and rode it 80 times to mark his own 80th birthday.

Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
For the complete story, click here

Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones come to Pennsylvania

The Rolling Stones have announced a round of tour dates, and they include a stop in Steel City. The British legends will hit Pittsburgh on June 20.

The so-called "Zip Code" tour will once again reunite singer Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The last time the Rolling Stones played North American stadiums was during their "A Bigger Bang Tour" in 2006. They opted for arena venues for their "50 & Counting" tour in 2012 and 2013.

"We love being out on the road and it is great to come back to North America," said Keith Richards in a statement. "I can't wait to get back on the stage!"


And quite the stage it will be, including a section that juts far into the crowd, allowing the Stones to interact with fans. As is the band's practice, the stage design will employ cutting-edge technology to enhance the performance, including video screens and special effects.

Original source: The New York Times
Check out the complete list here.

Uber and Carnegie Mellon collaborate on driver-less car research lab

The ride-share giant Uber has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University on a new Pittsburgh research lab focused on driver-less cars.

Carnegie Mellon and its Robotics Institute have been working on driverless vehicles for years, and its work is part of the reason the city has successfully segued from an industry-driven economy to one based on technology and medicine in the last 20 years, with the nearby University of Pittsburgh Medical Center pioneering transplant medicine and other breakthroughs.

The Uber-Carnegie Mellon deal is "another case where collaboration between the city and its universities is creating opportunities for job growth and community development," Mayor Bill Peduto said

The partnership announced Monday includes Uber funding for faculty chairs and graduate fellowships at the private research university.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Rideshare company Lyft plans Philadelphia roll-out

Lyft, the rideshare competitor to UberX, is planning to launch in Philadelphia; it already operates in Pittsburgh.

Billy Penn reported on a Craigslist ad asking for drivers as well as Lyft signage at City Coho, a co-working space at 2401 Walnut Street.

After several controversies surrounding Uber, 
The New York Times Nick Bilton wrote the company is a “moral alternative.” Lyft costs about the same as UberX, the lower-cost alternative to Uber Black.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Check out these Pittsburgh-centric holiday gifts

Check out these quirky Steel City-themed holiday gifts.

This gift comes with a warning: “Don’t eat the pillow.” Commonwealth Press on the South Side offers the official Pierogie Pillow, which measures 12 by 24 inches and is handmade from 100 percent poly anti-pill fleece and  hypoallergenic  stuffing. $20 from http://compressmerch.com/...

War Admiral Press, formerly of Pittsburgh, offers digitally printed cardboard coasters with historical maps of the Golden Triangle that say “Pittsburgh Misses You.” $12 for a pack of 10, available at the  Mattress Factory  gift shop on the North Side, Wild Card in  Lawrenceville  and Penhollows home furnishings in  Shadyside.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete list here.

Western PA universities attract more foreign students

College and universities in Western Pennsylvania are attracting more international students.

At 24, Vinay Palakkode, a native of Kerla, India, is living out his parents' dreams as a graduate student studying engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

“They tried very hard to send me here,” said Palakkode, a research assistant in the school's nationally renowned robotics program, as he sipped his morning coffee in CMU's Skibo Café.

Students like Palakkode put CMU on the list of the 25 U.S. universities with the largest number of international students.

Although CMU ranks 25th — it has 5,501 international students in a student body of 13,258 — international enrollment accounts for 41 percent of its students. By that measure, the school Andrew Carnegie founded to train the children of mill workers may be among the most international in the nation...

Although CMU's international enrollment stands out, universities large and small across Western Pennsylvania are attracting more foreign students.

Among the schools reporting international growth were Seton Hill University in Greensburg, where international enrollment grew from 45 two years ago to 57 this fall; Indiana University of Pennsylvania, from 765 to 892 in the same period, and the University of Pittsburgh, from 2,781 to 3,537.

Joe DeCrosta, director of international programs at Duquesne University, where 853 international students studied last year, said the influx of foreign students bodes well for a region that has experienced limited immigration.


Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Read the complete story here.

Steelers Nation invades Jets territory

Jets fans might feel outnumbered this weekend at MetLife Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys might be America’s Team, but when it comes to a national following, few teams rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jets fans can probably expect an even bigger-than-usual turnout this weekend when the Steelers visit MetLife Stadium. Not only is the game a short flight from Pittsburgh, making it easier for Steelers fans to attend — not to mention the team’s fans living in the New York area — but the Steelers’ star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, could set an N.F.L. record for touchdown passes thrown in a three-game span, an extra incentive for fans to make the trip...

About 70 percent of fans who say the Steelers are their favorite team do not live in Pennsylvania, according to Rich Luker, who runs Luker on Trends, a sports polling company. Success, he said, breeds loyalty.

“As soon as you’ve won three Super Bowls, then you have a national following,” Luker said, adding that the 70 percent figure was not surprising given that the Steelers had won a record six championships.

That following includes two busloads of fans who will congregate Sunday at the Irish Exit, a bar on Second Avenue in Manhattan, and ride to the stadium together.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pittsburgh company 4mom's magic stroller featured on NBC's 'Parenthood'

Not only did 4mom's high-tech Origami stroller make it onto the air as part of NBC's (wonderful) family drama Parenthood, it was actually demonstrated to significant awe. 

Check out the first scene of the episode here; the magic happens around the 1:20 mark.

Original source: NBC
 

New transit fund will boost seven projects in Allegheny County

Seven projects in Allegheny County will benefit from a multimodal fund that created in the transportation bill approved last year. The winning projects were announced this week by PennDOT. (Other Western PA projects were also approved.)

The recipients in Allegheny County were:

• Aspinwall Riverfront Park, $921,453 to realign the entry of the park to the Brilliant Avenue intersection, replace existing traffic signals, configure a four-way intersection, and construct a westbound left turn lane and pedestrian lane.

• CSX Transportation Inc., McKees Rocks, $1.1 million to improve the intersection of Route 51 (Island Avenue) and Michael Alley/Cutler Street, including construction of additional roadway and installation of a traffic signal and center turn lane.

• Pittsburgh Department of Public Works, $103,028 to purchase a heavy duty truck, trailer-mounted equipment and other equipment and staff training to begin a durable pavement marking program.

• McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises, Stowe, $917,686 for the 380-foot expansion of a barge dock at mile 4 on the Ohio River.

• Oxford Development Co., $2.2 million toward development of Three Crossings, a mixed-use development in the Strip District consisting of residential units, office space and a transportation facility with vehicle and bicycle parking, bicycle repair, EV charging stations, kayak storage, and transit station.

• Port Authority, $1 million to demolish the McKeesport Transportation Center and build a new multimodal terminal serving regional and local buses, ACCESS paratransit, a park-n-ride lot and the Steel Valley Heritage Trail.

• Three Rivers Marine & Rail Terminals LP, Glassport, $243,750 for design and construction of five quad tie cells for barge mooring at the Glassport Terminal on the Monongahela River and CSX railroad.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.

Historic Pittsburgh churches find new life

The New York Times features Pittsburgh houses of worship that have been rehabbed and reinvented in interesting ways.

Like most American Rust Belt towns settled by European immigrant laborers, Pittsburgh in the early 20th century was a deeply religious place, where ornate Romanesque and Gothic chapels, churches and cathedrals rose in nearly every corner of the city. But partly as a result of the steel industry’s collapse, Pittsburgh’s population (now just over 300,000) has been in decline for decades, and congregations have been abandoning their grand old churches in search of smaller, more affordable spaces. Along the way, some of the Steel City’s savviest entrepreneurs have been purchasing many of Pittsburgh’s disused churches and adapting them into clubs, restaurants, theaters and concert venues...

A look at Pittsburgh’s many reused churches, in fact, remains a unique way of exploring the city. A chapel tour of the area, for instance, could include a singalong session at Charlie Murdoch’s Dueling Piano Bar (inside a century-old Presbyterian church built for Ukrainian immigrants), a pottery class at the Union Project (a community education center in the former Union Baptist Church) or even a visit to the Sphinx Cafe, a hookah bar in a rundown former church of unknown provenance in the city’s university district.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.


Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

Study to look at impact of wind farms in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania General Assembly's nonpartisan research organization will author a report on the impact of wind farms on the state. Can this renewable energy source work for PA?

Legislators instructed the commission to cover certain basic details, including who owns wind turbines in Pennsylvania, how many there are, which agencies oversee them and how they are regulated.

The report also must include touchier subjects, like comparisons between wind and other energy sources — such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear — in terms of government subsidies and environmental impacts on wildlife and the landscape. It must address wind turbines’ effect on the electric grid and wind energy’s progress in relation to the state’s mandated minimum share of alternative energy in electricity sales.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.

Philly physicist, Allentown saxophonist and Pittsburgh poet among this year's MacArthur 'geniuses'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Uber presents testimony in front of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission judges

Uber continues to make its case in Pennsylvania, arguing for a permanent place on the transportation landscape.

During a hearing in Pittsburgh on Monday, the local attorney for Uber instructed a witness not to answer questions about the number of rides the company has provided while under a cease-and-desist order, despite a court order compelling the company to reveal the information.

It was the most contentious point of the daylong hearing, which allowed Uber to present testimony before Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission administrative law judges. Under consideration is Uber’s application to begin permanent, experimental service in Allegheny County and other points in Pennsylvania. The application was met with protests by several dozen taxi companies, including Ambridge-based JB Taxi...

To comply with the emergency temporary authority, the ride-sharing companies were required to show their insurance policies provide primary coverage when drivers are conducting ride-sharing business, and that the policies meet PUC standards. The PUC issued a certificate of public convenience good for 60 days to Lyft last week. Uber’s temporary application is pending review of documents submitted, according to a PUC spokeswoman
.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.
609 Pittsburgh Articles | Page: | Show All
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