Thursday, April 25, 2013

CMU Alumnus Launches Cookstove Project Empowering Rural Women in Africa; Crowdsource Funding Underway

Carnegie Mellon University Graduate Lucas Belenky has launched a company in Africa selling a specialized cookstove that he says will empower rural women in developing countries and also have a positive environmental and public health impact by using less firewood and creating less smoke.

The Baker Cookstove on the
manufacturing floor in Kenya.
Belenky, who received a graduate engineering degree from CMU in 2009, has spent the last four years working and living in Nairobi, Kenya. His company, Top Third Ventures Ltd., has developed the Baker Cookstove, which replicates the three-stone-fire system of cooking used in much of the developing world.

"It is basically three rocks that support a pot with an open fire in the middle," the company wrote on its Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign page. "This cooking style is very inefficient and leads to many environmental and health problems."

Belenky's company modeled its steel stove design on the three-rock-fire system so women (who do the vast majority of cooking in developing countries) would be more likely to use the new stove.

"The high thermal efficiency rating of the Baker Stove allows women to cook with only a third of the wood they used to use and in much less time," the company wrote. "This saves lives because less wood means less smoke"

Less smoke from cooking fires, which are often placed in poorly ventilated spaces, means improvements in health conditions, the company said.

"Indoor air pollution kills 4 million people every year," it said. "This is more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined."

"The company I built over the last 16 months is now launching its first product that will change the lives of rural women in Africa, while reducing deforestation, and combating climate change," Belenky announced on LinkedIn. 

Top Third Ventures crowdfunding campaign is currently underway to raise enough money to achieve proof-of-concept and bring on board larger investors. More information can be found at


Friday, April 19, 2013

Pittsburgh Picked As First Location For Web Video Series on Entrepreneurship Outside Silicon Valley

Pittsburgh has been picked as the first location for a web video series on entrepreneurship outside Silicon Valley by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which features Pittsburgh Region companies and startup support organizations like Innovation Works on its website.

"Thirty years ago, Pittsburgh was given up for dead," the site reads. "City leaders realized that if the town were ever to recover it would need a more diversified economy and that entrepreneurship would be key. The stories below explore how Pittsburgh went about creating a new entrepreneurial ecosystem and the challenges it still faces."

View the series at


GlobalPittsburgh Member Heyl & Patterson Joins Initiative To Supply Mining Equipment In Southern Africa

Heyl & Patterson Inc., a world leader in thermal processing systems and bulk material handling, announced that it has joined the Pennsylvania Mining Export Program (PAMEX), an initiative that provides assistance to Pennsylvania-based companies to successfully penetrate the Southern African market.

Heyl & Patterson is one of 10 Pennsylvania companies participating in the program. PAMEX is part of the Pennsylvania Office of Trade Development, and is designed to promote and increase Pennsylvania mining and service equipment in the Southern Africa region, with assistance from the United States Department of Commerce.

 The scope of PAMEX includes the nations of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These nations are also known as the Southern Africa Development Community. Implementation of the program will be conducted by the Pennsylvania Authorized Trade Representative (ATR) office based in Pretoria, South Africa. Heyl & Patterson has been an industry leader in the design and manufacture of thermal processing systems and bulk material handling equipment since its founding in 1887.

“PAMEX provides us with mining representatives who are familiar not only with the nation of South Africa, but the entire Southern Africa market, and this gives us the ability to expand our reach geographically,” said John Edelman, President of Heyl & Patterson. “This business venture could have a significant impact on Heyl & Patterson, and is a significant step in our strategy to expand our presence in growing markets.”

The ATR will conduct market research and appointment setting in the Southern Africa markets. A Mining Marketing Representative (MMR) will attend initial business meetings scheduled on behalf of the Pennsylvania companies, and those companies are expected to follow up on the meetings with potential importers within three working days. This process will result in reportable sales.

Founded in 1887 in Pittsburgh, Heyl & Patterson provides high quality, custom engineered solutions for thermal processing and bulk material handling applications around the globe. Thermal processing products and services include some of the largest high-efficiency Dryers and Coolers in the world, as well as Calciners, Bulk Material Processors and Pilot Plant Laboratory Testing. Heyl & Patterson is the innovator the Rotary Railcar Dumper and offers a wide range of bulk material handling equipment, including Railcar & Barge Movers and Barge Unloaders.

For more information, go to

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council Passes Resolution Supporting National Immigration Reform With Path to Citizenship

Pittsburgh City Council has passed a unanimous resolution urging lawmakers at the state and federal level to adopt comprehensive immigration reform measures that would include a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In addition to reflecting the nation's core values of fairness and equality for all people, simplifying the citizenship process for undocumented immigrants would result in positive economic benefits for all American works, according to Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, lead sponsor of the measure.

"The creation of a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans would improve wages and working standards for all workers by giving immigrant workers a voice in the workplace and halting employers who take advantage of failed immigration policies to exploit employees," the Council resolution stated. "Immigration reform is an urgent federal responsibility and must occur in a comprehensive, thoughtful manner guided by our nation's values of due process, civil and human rights, accountability, and proportionality."

At a press conference following the Council's action, Rudiak gathered together dozens of supporters, including representatives from labor, business, faith-based and other community groups, including the region's immigrant community.

"There is no reasonable system for people to become citizens of this country," she said. "That's why we have 11 million people living in the shadows. If we actually had a reasonable pathway to citizenship, people would not be doing that."

Rudiak, whose mother emigrated from Poland, said a Polish cousin of hers is now working in Spain because she was unable to find work in the U.S. even after graduating from Carlow University with honors.

"Not because she wasn't talented and not because they didn't want to hire her, because they did, but because the immigration process in this country is so absolutely onerous and literally takes years to get through," she said. "That's far too much red tape for any employer to be able to hire someone legally through the system."

Here is the text of the Council resolution:

"WHEREAS, the City of Pittsburgh has always been proud of its immigrant history, providing the backbone of industry and manufacturing and making Pittsburgh vital to the progress of the United States; and

"WHEREAS, immigrants from all over the world have been a significant portion of Pittsburgh’s growth over the past decade, bringing new life and investment to our City’s neighborhoods, educational systems, and commercial endeavors; and

"WHEREAS, each day thousands of immigrants work, own homes, open businesses, and contribute to the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the City; and

"WHEREAS, above all, we believe in the human dignity of all Pittsburgh residents; and

"WHEREAS, our country’s immigration system is fundamentally broken, holding back our economy and fostering a sense of divisiveness and fear in communities throughout America; and

"WHEREAS, the City of Pittsburgh recognizes that immigration reform must protect the rights of all workers and families and provide sufficient channels for migration in the future; and

"WHEREAS, the creation of a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans would improve wages and working standards for all workers by giving immigrant workers a voice in the workplace and halting employers who take advantage of failed immigration policies to exploit employees; and

"WHEREAS, the City of Pittsburgh recognizes the hopes of millions of immigrants to reunify their families and, as Pittsburghers have always held the core values of family and hard work, we recognize the dreams of young immigrants to get a quality education and contribute to our communities; and

"WHEREAS, immigration reform is an urgent federal responsibility and must occur in a comprehensive, thoughtful manner guided by our nation's values of due process, civil and human rights, accountability, and proportionality.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh hereby urges the 113th Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform as outlined in this resolution that establishes a clear, fast, and reasonable pathway to citizenship, keeps families together, upholds our values as a nation, promotes economic growth, and creates a fair immigration system guided by respect for the human rights of all persons; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the United States Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 Carnegie International Opening Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh With Weekend of Events & Celebrations; Longest-Running Survey of Contemporary Art

The 2013 Carnegie International -- the longest-running international survey of contemporary art at any museum -- will open with a weekend of events and celebrations Oct. 4–6, 2013.

Inaugurated in 1896, this year's International brings together 35 artists from 19 countries, including a series of large-scale commissions throughout the museum and beyond. Three major projects join what is, in essence, a conversation among artworks, the museum, and its visitors: an exchange of experiences and perspectives.

A playground, designed in 1972, and installed outside the museum entrance, will be contextualized by a richly illustrated exhibition of postwar playground architecture. (See photo above)

An ambitious reinstallation of Carnegie Museum of Art's permanent collection of modern and contemporary art will explore the International's legacy and unique history.

Finally, the 2013 Carnegie International amplifies its ongoing engagement with Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, inaugurated by the Lawrenceville Apartment Talks, which have been ongoing since 2011.

Artists participating in the 2013 Carnegie International include Ei Arakawa/Henning Bohl, Phyllida Barlow, Yael Bartana, Sadie Benning, Bidoun Library, The Collection, Nicole Eisenman, Lara Favaretto, Vincent Fecteau, Rodney Graham, Guo Fengyi, Wade Guyton, Rokni Haerizadeh, He An, Amar Kanwar, Dinh Q. Lê, Mark Leckey, Pierre Leguillon, Sarah Lucas, Tobias Madison, Zanele Muholi, Paulina Olowska, The Playground Project, Pedro Reyes, Kamran Shirdel, Gabriel Sierra, Taryn Simon, Frances Stark, Joel Sternfeld, Mladen Stilinović, Zoe Strauss, Henry Taylor, Tezuka Architects, Transformazium, Erika Verzutti, Joseph Yoakum.

Even as the Carnegie International brings the far reaches of the world to Pittsburgh, it remains firmly rooted in the city. At the Carnegie International apartment in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, artists, curators, writers, and the interested public gathered throughout the last two years to discuss some of the ideas shaping the exhibition and the broader culture.

This engagement with the city of Pittsburgh will also take shape through related art projects outside the museum walls and as the curators continue to provide a window into the exhibition through Tumblr, Pinterest, and the 2013 Carnegie International blog.

For more information about the 2013 Carnegie International at

Source: Carnegie International


Monday, April 1, 2013

Pitt Announces Partnership With China’s Sichuan University to Establish Joint Engineering Institute

The University of Pittsburgh and Sichuan University in China have announced a partnership that will establish an innovative joint engineering program to educate undergraduate students and foster collaborative research. The Sichuan University Pittsburgh Institute, as it will be named, expects to enroll its first class in the fall of 2014.

Sichuan University will initially invest nearly $40 million to support the construction and equipping of a new 100,000-square-foot building to house the institute on its campus.

Pitt is one of only five U.S. universities to have entered into a large-scale partnership agreement with a Chinese university; the others are Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, New York University, and the University of Michigan. Sichuan University is the premier university in western China, located in Chengdu within Sichuan Province, and it is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in China.

“This extraordinary partnership marks a milestone in the history of the University of Pittsburgh, expanding the University’s influence as a force for educational and research innovation while allowing Pitt to benefit from an alliance with Sichuan University, one of China’s preeminent institutions of higher education,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “We at Pitt are fortunate to partner with such an esteemed university, are grateful for the strong commitment it has made to this joint endeavor, and look forward to what we expect will be an enduring and fruitful relationship between our two leading research universities.”

“Pitt's partnership with Sichuan University creates a framework for students and faculty from both universities to share knowledge, culture, and experience,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “Because the universities are well matched in their overall academic strength and global commitments, the impact of this new partnership will extend beyond the field of engineering and beyond the U.S. and China, making it global in scope and presenting exciting possibilities for the future.”

“This partnership will enable our students to be much better prepared for practicing their profession globally,” said Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and professor in Pitt’s Swanson School. “The large number of American companies that do work in China or sell products there will benefit from the intercultural education that the joint institute provides. And the American and Chinese students who participate in this program will be in great demand by employers. I hope the program will open many doors for future opportunities with Sichuan University.”

With emphases on advanced sustainable manufacturing and educational innovation, the institute will initially offer three undergraduate degree programs: industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Students in the institute will be recruited from the United States, China, and possibly other countries, with the first class in fall 2014 expected to comprise 100 students. Within seven years, enrollment is projected to grow to a final total of 1,600.

Students will spend the first two years of the program immersed in the Pitt curriculum in China with the option of transferring to Pitt’s main campus during their third year in the program. Students who transfer to Pitt directly after their sophomore year will earn a bachelor’s degree from both Sichuan University and Pitt, and all students will receive an institute certificate upon completion of their studies. Qualified students will also be able to continue their graduate studies at Pitt.

Faculty from around the world will be recruited to teach at the institute, with 20 in 2014 and an expected total of 80 by 2018. All faculty will undergo rigorous training to ensure that they will provide appropriate course content in an active learning format. Pitt faculty interested in a semester or yearlong sabbatical to teach in the institute will be considered. All Pitt-curriculum-based courses will be taught in the English language. Sichuan University will cover not only the institute’s operating costs, but also faculty start-up funds.

Members from both universities comprise the project team responsible for spearheading this partnership. Led by Holder, key contributing members from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering are Bopaya Bidanda, chair and Ernest E. Roth Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering; Minking Chyu, chair and Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; Larry Shuman, Distinguished Service Professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs; and Qing-Ming Wang, director of the mechanical engineering graduate program and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Provost Beeson played an instrumental role in moving the partnership forward and will continue to provide her leadership as the partnership develops. In addition, Lawrence Feick, Pitt’s senior director of international programs, director of the University Center for International Studies, acting codirector of the Asian Studies Center, and professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, has played and will continue to play a significant role in coordinating various entities within Pitt and the connection between Pitt and Sichuan University.

The project team members from Sichuan University are Guangxian Li, executive vice president; Shijing Yan, vice president of the International Affairs; Ping Guan, deputy director of the International Office; and Liying Yao, director of major projects in the International Office.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the United States. The Swanson School has excelled in basic and applied research during the past decade and is at the forefront of 21st-century technology, including energy systems, sustainability, bioengineering, microsystems and nanosystems, computational modeling, and advanced materials development. Approximately 120 faculty members serve more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students in six departments, including bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science. In 2011, the Swanson School was the top-ranked U.S. school in the percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women in engineering, according to a ranking based on 2010-11 data from the American Society for Engineering Education.

Sichuan University is one of the oldest national universities in China and is ranked No. 8 among Chinese universities in Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities. It is a research university with a wide range of disciplines covering 11 categories: agriculture, economy, education, engineering, history, law, liberal arts, management, medicine, philosophy, and science. There are more than 40,000 undergraduate students, 20,000 master’s degree and PhD candidates, and 1,000 foreign students and students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Sichuan University has established contacts and cooperative relationships with more than 150 renowned colleges and universities as well as research institutes from 42 countries and regions.

Source: The University of Pittsburgh