As Pittsburgh blossoms, CMU benefits

A town of smokestacks and smog. A 9-to-5 city full of blue-collar pride. An industrial hole in the Rust Belt. For decades, Pittsburgh’s reputation has preceded itself — and it hasn’t been good. But this summer, the Steel City proved that it is anything but a ghost town. It’s a great time to be a Carnegie Mellon student in the ’Burgh — and it’ll be even better in the coming years.

In the past two years, Intel, Apple, and Google have sprouted new research facilities, all with the hope of collaborating with the many innovators at Carnegie Mellon.

This summer, New York investor Ira Gorman initiated the $22.5 million purchase of the Clark Building downtown, a building Gorman wants to be filled with tech companies. But why in Pittsburgh? Gorman told the Pittsburgh Business Times that “Pittsburgh will be to artificial intelligence what Silicon Valley is to [micro]chips.”

As Pittsburgh becomes home to more robotics, Internet, and other high-tech start-ups, and more high-level jobs become available, the city will also attract more residents. In the Cultrual District, Strip District, and South Side, sleek new condos and apartments are springing up faster than Pittsburghers can order fries on their sandwiches.

But Pittsburghers don’t just want students to live and work here — they want us to play here, too. With a casino complex coming our way, the over-21 crowd will have a difficult time bemoaning that there’s nothing to do in the ’Burgh.

Not into gambling? Try a baseball game. Not only did Pittsburgh’s PNC Park garner national attention by hosting this summer’s major league All-Star Game, it was also named the “No. 1 Ballpark in the Nation,” according to the Reader’s Digest “100 Best” issue.

Pittsburgh also has a robust array of adventure sports that anyone can try. In fact, National Geographic magazine ranked Pittsburgh “America’s Best Urban Adventure City.” Be it hiking, kayaking, spelunking, or exploring abandoned asylums, Pittsburgh’s got it.

Carnegie Mellon students have special reason to take note of Pittsburgh’s rise to excellence. The Mellon Foundation, which leverages its $1.8 billion to encourage economic development in western Pennsylvania, wants Carnegie Mellon students to experience more of Pittsburgh, presumably so we’ll stay here and contribute to its growing high-tech economy. To that end, they’ve funded a program called Pittsburgh Connections that promises to make it easier than ever for Carnegie Mellon students to get out and experience everything this city has to offer.

In 2010, when today’s first-years get ready for their commencement, they will be living in a different city than the one to which they arrived. They will have had the pleasure of witnessing and the pride of inspiring the renaissance of Pittsburgh.