Manuela Velosa

Manuela Veloso, PhD
Head of Carnegie Mellon University’s Machine Learning Department

When a computer beat chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1996, Manuela Veloso was impressed. But she also wondered how a robot would match up against a human in physical space. So she and others created a team of robot soccer players.

The challenge was to have robots that can collaborate and learn,” says Veloso, a renowned computer scientist who has been on the Carnegie Mellon University faculty since 1992. “I worked with colleagues in Japan, Canada and many European countries such as Italy, Sweden and France. The problems of the physical world are complicated. We have to develop algorithms to have robots do tasks together (and) there are still many challenges. For instance, we can’t beat Cristiano Ronaldo … yet.”

Learn more about Veloso’s work and hear her advice for students in our story here.

Jelena Kovačević.

Jelena Kovačević
Hamerschlag University Professor and Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University

As most parents know, ear infections are a common ailment among children.

“For the first three years of (my daughter’s) life, we were constantly in the pediatrician’s office,” says Kovačević, Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “She had ear infections all the time.”

Ear infections are treated with antibiotics — in 2009, there were 20 million such prescriptions in the U.S. costing $2 billion.

But ear infections are often confused with otitis media, which presents in similar ways but is not bacterial — meaning kids who do not require antibiotics are often prescribed them. So Kovačević and Dr. Alejandro Hoberman, the chair of general pediatrics at UPMC, teamed up to create a diagnostic aid to help doctors more accurately diagnose ear infections.

Learn more about that collaborative work and hear her advice in our story here.

Hahna Alexander.

Hahna Alexander
Co-Founder of SolePower

What if people could power their smart devices simply by walking? Hahna Alexander imagined just that, and that vision led her to create SolePower, a Highland Park tech firm that now creates SmartBoots that can charge phones and other devices.

“Energy harvesting is the process of scavenging ‘wasted’ energy from the surrounding environment,” says Alexander, 27, of Squirrel Hill. “We create “kinetic” chargers that use mechanisms such as gears and links to convert motion.”

Her work has caught the attention of the tech world.

“We’re at a unique moment in time when the Internet of Things (which means devices that connect to the internet) can be powered from walking instead of being limited by battery life. We are excited to be testing SmartBoots this spring with companies in the region.”

Read more about Alexander’s work and find her advice to girls considering a career in tech here.

Audrey Russo.

Audrey Russo

President & Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh Technology Council

In the 10-plus years Audrey Russo has served as president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, she has seen — and helped drive — the city to reach new heights in the world of tech.

“Pittsburgh is an interesting place, because it slowly but steadily created a very diverse tech landscape,” says Russo, who also has worked at Reynolds Metals and Alcoa. “It’s steadily growing, and it is growing across almost every sector of potential innovation. … In the last 10 years, the Technology Council has had a pivotal role in moving the tech needle for the region.”

Read more about Russo’s work, the Council’s mission and her work inspiring students here.

Stacey Olson
President, Chevron Appalachia

Stacey Olson has worked around the globe during her career in the oil and gas industry for Chevron, including stops in Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. That international exposure has given her a unique view of what makes the U.S. tech scene thrive:

“Our academic institutions are great and they help set up U.S. businesses for success,” says Olson, a Louisiana native who was named president of Chevron Appalachia in 2016. “We also have a strong rule of law, a generally predictable regulatory environment and a work ethic that helps the country succeed.”

Read more about Olson’s work and get her advice to young professionals here.