Carnegie Mellon University’s Block Center for Technology and Society(opens in new window) has announced the recipients of the Southwest Pennsylvania Build Back Better subgrants. The nine awardees, who submitted project proposals in June 2023, support skills-focused training programs that will help Southwestern Pennsylvanians secure jobs in robotics and advanced manufacturing.
“Carnegie Mellon University is committed to connecting today’s workers with cutting-edge robotics and advanced manufacturing skills,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian(opens in new window). “The nine grants we’re awarding — and the nine projects they support — will position our fellow residents and Southwest Pennsylvania to capture economic opportunities and catalyze inclusive growth that our region can build upon for years to come.”
Last year, Southwestern Pennsylvania was one of 21 regions awarded funding through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant, receiving $62.7M from the U.S. Department of Commerce(opens in new window). Jahanian co-chaired the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative, the board that advised on the initial grant application and is overseeing the implementation of projects to stimulate the development and adoption of robotics and AI-enabled technologies in 11 counties in the region. The Block Center is a part of the Collaborative assigned to distribute a portion of the funds to educators teaching skills in these fields to current students and transitioning workers, with the ultimate goal of helping people secure high-quality jobs.
“Autonomy has the potential to catalyze exciting, well-paying, next-generation jobs across Southwestern Pennsylvania, and these employment opportunities must be available to everyone who wants to find their place in this industry,” said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and co-chair of the Collaborative. “That’s why we are being deliberate about investing — through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant — in putting all the necessary infrastructure in place for inclusive workforce development. With support from the Block Center’s Build Back Better subgrants, more regional organizations, institutions and educators will offer programs that provide accessible avenues to training and skills development for all who want to work in the region’s burgeoning autonomy sector.”
The following organizations and projects are the recipients of the Block Center’s Southwest Pennsylvania Build Back Better grants:
- “Bridging the Gap Between Education and Talent” — Pittsburgh Technology Council(opens in new window)/Fortyx80(opens in new window)
- “Pittsburgh Gateways Corp/CorePower Job Training Program” — Pittsburgh Gateways(opens in new window)
- “Essentials of Robotics: Short-Term Certificate Program” — Justin Starr, Community College of Allegheny County(opens in new window)
- “Providing Robotics Skills Training to Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship Program” — New Century Careers(opens in new window)
- “Manufacturing Career Readiness Curriculum Pilot” — Catalyst Connection(opens in new window)
- “Growth Mindset Training for and in the Labor Market” — Ashley Orr, CMU Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy(opens in new window)
- “AI Tech Training” – Vu Nguyen, Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy(opens in new window)
- "Machine Learning Augmented Youth Welding Training Support from Ideation, Planning, to Manufacturing" — Dina El Zanfaly, CMU School of Design(opens in new window) and Daragh Byrne, CMU School of Architecture(opens in new window)
- “New Bridges to the Digital Economy” – Lee Branstetter, CMU Heinz College(opens in new window)
“These projects demonstrate the mission of the Block Center — examining the impact of emerging technologies on the future of work, harnessing technology for social good and ensuring that innovation is more inclusive,” said Steve Wray(opens in new window), Block Center executive director.