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Revolutionizing Learning and Work

Audrey Russo, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

TEQ Magazine Winter 2024We often talk about youth and throw lots of verbiage to the importance of investment in our younger people. But in reality, there are many ways we are overlooking the fabric of education and the leverage of technology. Our role at the Pittsburgh Technology Council continues to evolve and we are strengthening our commitment to adapting to change. But more importantly, we want to support those who are doing the heroic work of teaching. 

The hard work is proving to be more difficult than we are collectively addressing. However, we are playing a small but mighty role in convening educators and leadership across our regional educational institutions. This is demonstrated by the growing participation and the thirst for eliminating the isolation of the classrooms across K- 12. We do this through the strength of our membership, who know that without this transformation of learning, we have not prepared people for tomorrow. All our regional efforts in commercializing innovation will lose traction if we are not radically altering learning models.  

On January 15th we hold our annual Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (TRETC). If you are an educator, this is a must-attend gathering. If you are a business leader, show up and get inspired to further assist in collaboration. We have put together a tremendous agenda. 

Our keynote speaker comes to us from a hailed school district in southern California. Ed Hidalgo, Innovation and Engagement Advisor at Cajon Valley Union School District, has led innovation in what is referred to as the balancing act of transactional and transformational career development. 

A sampling of our featured speakers include:

• Joseph T. Yun | Research Professor and AI Architect, University of Pittsburgh & CEO of LLC

• Amil Cook | Hip-Hop Technologist & Strategic Partnership Consultant, BootUP

• Rachelle Dene Poth | Spanish and STEAM Teacher, Consultant and Author

• Janet Phan | Founder of Thriving Elements, Author of Boldy You, Senior Technical Product Manager, Project Kuiper, Amazon and Thriving Elements 

We have topical panels to address innovative partnerships, cybersecurity and education along with student showcases which are bound to invigorate and instill hope for tomorrow’s leaders. The day also includes an e-sports competition, Fly Like a Girl Drone Academy, Ed Tech Leaders Forum and more.  

When considering the opportunities schools have developed in the K-12 space, it’s important to understand the range of experiences they offer to students. These opportunities can be compared to layers of peanut butter, with some schools providing thin layers and others offering thick layers. In this context, thin layers refer to transactional experiences in career development. These experiences are quick and focused on spreading awareness to students about different career paths. On the other hand, thick layers represent transformational experiences that go deeper into the student’s journey of self-discovery. These experiences aim to help students explore their passions, strengths and interests, allowing for a more transformational and meaningful learning experience.

The intent is to set the table of newer modalities which result in students not only having a deeper connection to their self-identity but to their role as a contributor and future innovator in the region.  Paired with the outcome that these young people will stay, seize the opportunities for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship to fill our region with companies that have the people who possess the best tools to ensure options, vitality and prosperity. We cannot leave anyone behind or disconnected with a bountiful life.

Convening TRETC every year is just one of seemingly countless steps we must take to ensure this future. Each year we can start to see the actions build and it is some of the most important work the Tech Council does. I hope to see you at the event. Let’s revolutionize learning and work together!