Pittsburgh was the city of choice for the U.S. Department of State’s annual Experience America trip this year, bringing 30 ambassadors from across the globe to explore the city's history, architecture, culture and technology.
The event, held May 21-23, gave world leaders the opportunity to engage with prominent economic, technological and creative pioneers in Pittsburgh to strike up new foreign partnerships. Ambassadors were given tours through facilities including Astrobotic Technology, Inc., Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and the Andy Warhol Museum.
The trip wrapped up with a walk-through of Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville. Ashok Mirpuri, ambassador of Singapore to the United States, was impressed by the technological feats the Pittsburgh scientific community has spearheaded.
“These trips really give us the opportunity to see the United States outside of Washington, and Pittsburgh is particularly interesting because of the history of the city that the State Department has introduced us to, almost 200 years old,” Mirpuri said. “But where it is today, where it is at the cutting edge of the 21st century; it’s really a remarkable city we’ve been able to see.”
The resilience of this adaptable city shines through to those that visit. Mirpuri said he and his colleagues were fascinated by how many old buildings, some that were built at the turn of the 20th century, are now being converted into hubs of scientific discovery.
Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center is the world’s largest robotics research and development organization. Their program works with the government and private sector to follow robotic development from its core conceptual phases into reality.
According to their website,“NREC is at the forefront in unmanned ground vehicle design, autonomy, sensing and perception, machine learning, machine vision, and operator assistance."
The Tartan Rescue team’s robot, CHIMP is one such innovative robot developed in this facility. CHIMP is a three million dollar robot with 34 jointed motors developed to aid in in disaster preparation.
“We spend all our time in D.C. dealing with very large matters, these State Department trips give us the opportunity to come out and see things from different perspectives in different states, each one of course showcasing different elements and then for many of us we can take ideas back or look for collaborative opportunities,” Mirpuri said.
Collaboration was the goal for this trip. Bringing in foreign leaders to see innovations like CHIMP could mean more investments into the growing technological sector of Pittsburgh by people who see promise in what new advancements are being made here.
Mirpuri also saw collaboration between Pittsburgh and Singapore in the young minds that are studying here.
“I was surprised when I got here the first evening, I had the opportunity to meet some students who are studying at Carnegie Mellon,” Mirpuri said. “We have a fairly significant number who are here because we have the opportunity to look at science, engineering, cyber security and computer science and are able to take these skills back home to us; so there is actually some connection between Singapore and Pittsburgh.”
As Pittsburgh’s interest in science continues to develop, the world turns its eyes more toward the growing city. Along with that focus could mean more foreign relationships and investment into the local economy, creating more jobs and educational opportunities for those that reside here.