PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — President Obama is making his third trip to Pittsburgh this year alone.
After meeting with steelworkers at U.S. Steel’s West Mifflin Irvin plant in January and then with students at Community College in North Fayette in April, now it’s a place call TechShop at Bakery Square in East Liberty.
What is TechShop?
It’s a place for people who like to make things, says Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
“You can go in and you can take classes, classes that you can learn anything from welding, laser cutting, you can build technology solutions, any idea that you have,” said Russo.
It’s like a giant basement on steroids for the American inventor, says Bakery Square developer Todd Reidbord.
“(It) has a lot of different opportunities for people who want to build things and make things. I know it’s for hobbyists, people who are just having fun with things, but it’s also for people who want to make the next great invention, that want to be trained on certain type of equipment,” noted Reidbord.
TechShop was locked up on Tuesday, as White House advance people and the secret service were doing their job.
One TechShop manager said he was not allowed to talk to the media.
The president’s visit here on Tuesday is prelude to the first White House Makers Faire in Washington on Wednesday with the idea is to encourage the invention of more American-made products, starting at places like TechShop.
“This really is the future,” said Russo. “It is the intersection of technology, machines and people making things. And that really is the collision that is right around us. The exciting thing is that Pittsburgh has a lot of core competencies in this arena.”
“It’s pretty evident that there’s a make-in-America initiative in Washington that the president has been spawning,” added Russo.
The visit to Pittsburgh is to help promote the first Makers Faire which, the White House website says “will showcase amazing projects, inventions, and products created by people across the country.”
TechShop brings training and equipment to those who want to develop prototypes of their new inventions here in America, and a federally funded project called the Makership Project here in Pittsburgh says it’s about future jobs.
“Working with union leaders, people who are unemployed, veterans, as well as the community, to leverage these skills as well as the TechShop, they can have access to this new world of skills,” added Russo.
TechShop is the only announced stop for the president in Pittsburgh, according to the White House right now, but the folks across the street at the Veterans Departments Human Engineering Resource Laboratories are hoping the president will take a few steps out of his way.
It’s another Bakery Square asset where inventors are designing products that will help veterans — and TechShop is part of the effort.
“We do some interactive training and collaboration with the TechShop. We send some of our interns over there, and they also send some of their people over here,” noted the VA’s Matthew Hannan.
“Make it in America” is a popular call in Pittsburgh — and, no doubt, why President Obama is back in town again.