Who’s Next in Pittsburgh tech: 14 people shaping Pittsburgh’s technology scene

Our latest Who’s Next: Technology class is here with more than a dozen under-40 individuals who are making tech more equitable, more inclusive, more accessible, more fun, and more impactful.

There’s creativity, innovation, risk, whimsy, and even philanthropy — all indicators of the undercurrents moving within Pittsburgh’s tech scene and the people who are a part of it. 

Who’s Next, presented by S&T Bank, is our chance to recognize up-and-coming dynamos in Pittsburgh and to introduce you today to tomorrow’s leaders and influencers. Uber is class sponsor for our Tech honorees.

And we’re excited to introduce this class of innovative and dedicated tech workers and boosters.

Meet them here and then get your ticket to join us at a happy hour in their honor on Wednesday, July 31.

The future of Pittsburgh’s tech scene is here — and it looks like this. 

Nick Bartel and Hayden Cardiff 

Founders, Idelic

🔗 LinkedIn (Bartel) 

🔗 LinkedIn (Cardiff) 

Ages 34 and 29, respectively 

Predicting which truck drivers are most likely to be involved in a crash is no longer a work of science fiction. With their AI startup Idelic, Hayden Cardiff and Nick Bartel have developed software they say is capable of predicting 90 percent of big-truck accidents. It works by logging individual driver data that’s then put into a machine learning algorithm capable of predicting the likelihood of driver traffic violations, injuries, and other risks. “Our goal is to step in and be proactive and identify the risks before the big crash,” Bartel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Their Who’s Next nominator called Idelic the “hottest early-stage tech startup in town — AI for trucking safety,” and the co-founders say their mission is to make travel safer for truckers and every motorist on the road.

Bartel attended Penn State University, University of Maryland College Park, and Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Mt. Lebanon. Cardiff attended Carnegie Mellon University and Nicholls State University and lives in Shaler. 

Alison Falk

Founder: Women In Tech Pittsburgh, Sex Tech Space, and Managing Director: Women of Sex Tech

💬 Twitter 

🔗 LinkedIn 

📸 Instagram

Age 27 

Alison Falk’s Who’s Next nominator calls her “the overdue but better-late-than-never face of tech equity in Pittsburgh.” And as founder of Women in Tech Pittsburgh, Falk is working to address issues of gender inequity in an industry long plagued by them. Only about 20 percent of tech jobs are held by women, and Falk’s nominator says she advocates relentlessly, through both her Women in Tech Pittsburgh and Sex Tech Space platforms, for parity and a greater understanding of “the impacts of technology on sex education and human trafficking.”

Falk’s nominator added: “Only with more people like Alison leading the way – always thinking big, challenging the status quo, and emphasizing inclusivity at every step – can Pittsburgh’s tech community ever reach its full potential.”

Falk attended The George Washington University, National Chengchi University, Fu Jen Catholic University and lives in the North Side.

Santiago Garces 

Director, Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance

🔗 LinkedIn 

Age 32

Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation & Performance exists to improve municipal services through technology solutions. And when Director Santiago Garces took on the role in January, he embraced the department’s collaborative approach to government innovation and its reputation for being at the cutting-edge of data analytics. This includes a collaboration between Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh to develop a unique regional approach to Open Data. It also includes a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and its Metro 21 institute to advance the research, development, and deployment of novel solutions for cities, yielding over 50 projects and $3 million in investment.

Garces was formerly the Chief Innovation Officer in South Bend, where he became a founding member of the Metro Lab Network. He’s won Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor’s Innovation Challenge and his work features nationally and internationally.

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Garces attended the University of Notre Dame and lives Downtown. 

Justin Gilmore

Decision Support Analyst, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

🔗 LinkedIn

Age 29 

Justin Gilmore proves that taking a job in tech doesn’t mean checking your altruism at the door. As a decision support analyst at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Gilmore’s harnessing of data, technology, and his use of machine learning techniques has helped improve the food bank’s efficiency and reach over an 11-county service area.

Without work like his, Gilmore’s Who’s Next nominator explained, the organization could not “carry out (its) mission to feed people and mobilize the community to end hunger.” Gilmore has also collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health in an effort to apply these methods nationally, and he’ll continue work to “develop the personas of food insecurity and dive deeper into geospatial analysis” in better targeting food bank services here, his Who’s Next nominator added.  

Gilmore attended Carnegie Mellon University and Millersville University and lives in Allentown. 

Menelik Lewis 

Business Development, Black Tech Nation Pittsburgh and Digital Product Owner, Asset Management Group

🔗 LinkedIn 

Age 28

Black Tech Nation Pittsburgh bills itself as “the first and only social good organization dedicated to growing a black tech ecosystem within Pittsburgh’s rapidly growing tech economy.” And Menelik Lewis is helping black tech startups develop as head of business development with the organization.

He also serves as a digital product owner with the Asset Management Group, where he works to improve the firm’s digital services, and chair of the Technology & Innovation Council with PNC’s African American Employee Business Resource Group. “Making tech accessible to all is such an important mission because it holds the power to unlock untold amounts of creativity, allowing for novel solutions that simply wouldn’t exist otherwise,” Lewis told The Incline. “If this can be supported, emotionally and financially, then we’re on a path to creating a more equitable world.”

Lewis attended Pitt and lives in South Oakland. 

Joselyn McDonald

Founder, Director of Design at Digital Culture Club; CoFounder and CTO of Digits Tech

💬 Twitter

🔗 LinkedIn 

Age 31

Joselyn McDonald is here to challenge your notions of tech. As a creative technologist, McDonald’s work is both whimsical and useful, often centering on “femme-forward” and humorous/play technologies. This includes prototypes for innovative feminine hygiene products and “press-on nails” that double as a bus pass and a Giant Eagle Advantage Card, City Paper reported. 

One of McDonald’s Who’s Next nominators told The Incline, “… the majority of current technology development is focused on improving worker efficiency, but often ignores the needs/desires of women and society as a whole. Joselyn deserves the ‘Who’s Next: Technology’ award because she will surely continue developing technologies that benefit groups that the Silicon Valley ‘tech bros’ often ignore…” 

McDonald attended The New School Parsons School of Design and the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Squirrel Hill.

Tekin Mericli 

Chief Technology Officer, Locomation

🔗 LinkedIn 

💬 Twitter

Age 37 

As co-founder and chief technology officer with Locomation, Tekin Meriçli is working to bring convoys of autonomous tractor-trailers to public roadways. But the company insists it’s using a “more level-headed and incremental approach” in plotting the fully autonomous future of ground transportation. With roots in Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center, Locomation says it’s working to move the trucking industry toward a safer, faster, and greener future with the help of team members like Meriçli, who brings more than a decade of AI and engineering experience to the table.

Meriçli, a former special faculty/commercialization specialist at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center, attended Boğaziçi University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Marmara University and lives in Mt. Lebanon. 

Delvina Morrow

Director of Major Programs, PTC & Board President for Prototype

🔗 LinkedIn 

💬 Twitter

📸 Instagram

Age 32

Strategic thinking, community development, tech. As director of major programs and initiatives with the Pittsburgh Technology Council and board president for PrototypePGH, Delvina Morrow has helped various organizations — nonprofits, for-profits, those in life sciences, technology, and more — to hone their mission and organizational structure.

Morrow also uses her position to advocate for young women, advising them on what it’s like to be a woman and a woman of color in tech, and to help those interested move into the industry. “Delvina meets with women regularly who find her on LinkedIn, to address issues around career transitions and insight on being a black woman in tech and navigating this space,” Morrow’s Who’s Next nominator told The Incline

Morrow attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges and lives in the South Side. 

Patrick Paul and Steve Welles

Co-CEOs, Ikos

🔗 LinkedIn (Paul) 

🔗 LinkedIn (Welles) 

Ages 28 and 30, respectively

Tech is changing the real estate market as we know it, and Pittsburgh-based startup Ikos hopes that means democratizing it, too. Ikos co-CEOs Patrick Paul and Steve Welles say their service aims to support smaller landlords by helping to screen applicants and post listings. They also aim to help renters navigate new neighborhoods and the hunt for housing itself.

“They’re focusing on bringing equity to renting, especially as rental prices continue to rise,” AlphaLab Program Coordinator Catherine Tsavalas said of Ikos in speaking to NEXTpittsburgh. One of Welles’ and Paul’s Who’s Next nominators said the pair “brings a people-first approach to building a technology company seeking to improve the rental experience for small to midsize landlords and renters.”

Paul attended St. Francis University and lives in the South Side. Welles attended the University of Rochester and lives in the South Side. 

Juddson Poeske

Product Manager, M*Modal (a 3M company)

🔗 LinkedIn 

Age 27 

It’s been called an ‘Alexa for doctors,’ and it’s made by M*Modal, where product manager Juddson Poeske is helping to bring voice recognition technology and analytics into the healthcare sector. There, the combination can be used to reduce the time and costs associated with dictation and to support medical decisions. It can also free up doctors, allowing them to spend less time inputting data and more time interacting with patients. “Judd’s work is at the intersection of healthcare and technology, two of Pittsburgh’s signature industries,” Poeske’s Who’s Next nominator told The Incline. “His creativity … is what will move the industry forward.” 

Poeske, who you may also recognize as the founder of Street Side Karaoke, which brings karaoke to the streets of Pittsburgh, attended Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Bloomfield.

Amanda Sgroi 

Principal Research Scientist, RE2 Robotics

🔗 LinkedIn 

📸 Instagram

Age 31

Amanda Sgroi builds robots, world-changing robots. As principal research scientist with RE2 Robotics, Sgroi is responsible for leading development in perception and autonomy. Sgroi is also working to take robotic arms from teleoperated and semi-autonomous to fully autonomous. RE2’s products and human-like robotic arms have already aided in underwater exploration, disaster recovery, and bomb disposal. And Sgroi is at the forefront of RE2’s efforts to grow these applications while also championing women in STEM fields and being featured in Authority Magazine‘s series on “Women Leading the AI Industry.”

Sgroi attended the University of Notre Dame and Duquesne University and lives in the North Hills. A native of Johnstown, Sgroi returned to Western Pennsylvania from South Bend, Ind., and took a job on Lawerenceville’s Robot Row where she said she fell in love with the “buzz of all the innovation” around her.

Mike Shoupe

Mechanical Engineering Manager, Aerotech, Inc.

🔗 LinkedIn 

Age 35 

A smarter, faster, and more efficient manufacturing process is the goal at Aerotech, Inc., where Mike Shoupe leads the firm’s innovative mechanical engineering department. It’s the same department that’s responsible for supporting manufacturers as they “push the boundaries of precision, conduct groundbreaking research, or make amazing products of their own,” Shoupe’s Who’s Next nominator told The Incline. Typically this means streamlining and automating such processes.

Aerotech, a Pittsburgh-based high-precision motion control and automation company, uses its products to aid in the manufacturing of components for high-tech industries like mobile electronics, 3D printing, and medical device manufacturing. And Aerotech’s work on 3D printing continues to make that nascent technology more precise, reliable, and the desired outcomes more possible.

Shoupe attended Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Sarver.