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Pittsburgh's Robotics Industry Growing, Human Job Candidates Needed

Sarah Boden
90.5 WESA
A billboard that reads "We're Still Hiring Humans" stands near the east side of the 31st Street Bridge. It's advertizing open positions at Carnegie Robotics.

“We’re still hiring humans” proclaims a billboard situated just east of the 31st Street Bridge near Lawrenceville. On the sign, a coy, Pixar-looking automaton beckons engineers and programmers to apply to nearly a dozen positions at Carnegie Robotics.  

“Lawrenceville is the center of a lot of blossoming robotics and self-driving, and manufacturing automatic going on in the world,” said John Bares, Carnegie Robotics president and CEO. “We wanted to get our presence right smack in the middle of that.”

Bares’s company designs all sorts of robots, including those that detect landmines and clean cafeteria floors.  

“Our robots do replace people,” he said. “But we’re still hiring, and we still need a lot of people to build those robots, service them, support them.”

A 2016 report from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development* backs this up.

The city’s robotics-related workforce has more than twice as many openings, per capita, when compared to the United States overall. Advertised salaries for these jobs in Pittsburgh are nearly $8,000 higher than the national average.

Gabriella Gonzales, a social scientist at the Rand Corporation's Pittsburgh office, said educators and industries aren't doing a good job collaborating to build a work force that meets these needs. But she said that Carnegie Mellon University's Advanced Robotics and Manufacturing Institute gives Pittsburgh an advantage that many regions lack.

“A lot of people are very reluctant to change," she said, "but often times it's simply an evolution.”

*This post has been updated. An earlier version of this story misidentified the author of the 2016 "Inflection Point" report.