December 2019


Pittsburgh PDMA Community,

We are at the end of another year, and it is a time to look back and reflect, as well as look ahead to 2020. We started off the second half of the year with our Summer Social at the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville. Heading into the Fall, we had a sold-out class for our second PDMA Body of Knowledge eight-week training program where professionals from various industries came together to learn about and discuss different aspects of product development. We kicked off a new Back-to-Basics series that focuses on addressing fundamental product management areas and is perfect for individuals new to the profession or experienced practitioners who want to expand their skills. With the success of the first workshop - How to Use Ethnography to Identify Meaningful Insights - we will be holding the next workshop in early Spring on concept ideation and prototyping.

Part of PDMA’s mission is to foster the innovation community in Pittsburgh, so we worked with various organizations throughout the year to provide opportunities to learn about and showcase innovation in the area. PDMA was a sponsor for ProductCamp Pittsburgh in September and held an Industry 4.0 panel discussion as part of Catalyst Connection’s Digital Bridge Industry 4.0 Conference in October. In November, PDMA Pittsburgh sponsored the Student Pitch Competition at CMU's Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and provided four teams with cash prizes as a reward for their innovative ideas.

2020 promises to be a great year for PDMA and the Pittsburgh product development, management, and innovation community. We plan to have a fantastic lineup of events and speakers, including Chad McAllister, host of The Everyday Innovator podcast. We will continue to work with the Pittsburgh innovation community to bring you events that provide valuable learning and networking opportunities. We will also be offering our Body of Knowledge training in the Spring and Fall. The Spring session begins on February 4th and takes place every Tuesday through March 24th. Be on the lookout for announcements about all of our upcoming events. If you would like to get more involved with the Pittsburgh Chapter, please reach out to me or one of our Board Members. 

I hope everyone has a happy holiday and a successful and prosperous new year! 

Best Regards,

John Rovnan
PDMA Pittsburgh President

Fall BoK Training Gets Positive Ratings

pdma_pgh_dec_news_2.pngThe second session of the Body of Knowledge (BoK) training program wrapped up in October. Twelve individuals from multiple industries and backgrounds participated in the course to sharpen their product development and management skills.

Before celebrating the completion of the course and receiving their certificates, the group performed one last exercise as a class. They provided feedback about the overall course. This information is used to make future improvements to the eight-week program. Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

“The course really provided a good overview of key product development and management concepts and tools. Some of the concepts were brand new to me, but it was nice to have the Body of Knowledge book to read outside of class.”

“It was great that there were multiple instructors throughout the eight-week course. It was interesting to hear different perspectives based on their industries and roles.”

pdma_pgh_dec_news_3.png“Reading the Body of Knowledge book was a plus. It was a great reference.”

“As a product manager, it would have been great to have the engineering lead or product developer take the course with me. That way, we could have discussed the concepts and tools outside of class and determine the best way to apply them.”

Next Training Session Begins February 4, 2020

If you are interested in strengthening your foundational product development and management knowledge, be sure to sign up for the upcoming session – February 4th through March 24th. The courses are held every Tuesday, and the core areas of study include: strategy; portfolio management; new products process; culture, organization and teams; tools and metrics; market research; and life cycle management. The class size will be kept to 12 students (or less), so if you are interested in attending, please register early to reserve your seat.

Download the flyer to learn more!

Register Today

Industry 4.0 Panel Discussion Recap

pdma_pgh_dec_news_4.pngPDMA Pittsburgh had a packed house during the October 31st panel discussion: Product Development and the Digital Thread… Are We Ready for Industry 4.0? During the talk, our five panelists drew from their own experiences in industry and academia to provide insight, advice, and considerations for the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

In simple terms, Industry 4.0 encompasses company-wide software integration and the adoption of smart machines fueled by data and machine learning. This combination of technology can have a dramatic impact on product development and manufacturing. It allows companies to become more productive, more efficient, and make better informed decisions. However, most companies are not prepared for Industry 4.0. This is a huge undertaking, and many companies don’t know where to begin.

pdma_pgh_dec_news_5.pngHere are a few of the key takeaways from the discussion to help you start thinking about Industry 4.0:

  • Technology is technology, but when it comes to Industry 4.0, it is critical to look at everything systematically to achieve optimum results.
  • Implementing digital technology is one thing, but implementing a highly integrated software solution is another. Piecemeal software solutions are a thing of the past. All software must communicate throughout the company, from the shop floor to the executive offices.
  • Education and training are key. Roles associated with Industry 4.0 are very specialized. It is important to hire individuals that understand and are trained to deal with processes and systems associated with Industry 4.0. Problem solving and critical thinking in a team setting are imperative.
  • With the influx of data that is associated with Industry 4.0, it is necessary to determine how the data will be managed and who will manage it.
  • Clearly understand how Industry 4.0 will impact the bottom line, especially as it relates to product development, and be able to articulate the return on investment (ROI) to the executives at your company.
  • Seek help from the experts. There are companies in Pittsburgh, like Catalyst Connection, that specialize in Industry 4.0 and can provide high-level guidance and training to get your company started.

As Industry 4.0 unfolds, it’s crucial to continue these discussions and learn as much as we can. The PDMA panel discussion was one of many sessions during the Digital Bridge 2019 Industry 4.0 Conference where many Industry 4.0 topics were discussed. Thank you to Catalyst Connection for hosting this important and informative conference.

Thank you to the PDMA panelists and moderator:

  • Dr Joseph Cuiffi, Program Coordinator, Penn State New Kensington, Electromechanical Engineering Technology
  • Dr. Daragh Byrne, Associate Professor, CMU Integrated Innovation Institute Master’s Program
  • Mike Holtkamp, Digitalization Focus Account Manager, Siemens Corporation
  • Sergio Butkewitsch Choze, former Head of Digital Manufacturing Automation Technology, Arconic
  • Matthew Jones, Additive Manufacturing Manager, AW Miller/Miller 3D
  • Moderator: Stephen Leonard, Founder and Managing Director, GrayMatterz

Student Innovators Take Home Big Prizes

pdma_pgh_dec_news_6.pngThe undergraduate and graduate students from CMU and Pitt brought their “A Game” during the PDMA Student Pitch Competition. Each team competed for cash prizes as well as access to a variety of resources to help propel their company to the next level. Undergraduate winners took home $700 each; Graduate winners walked away with $800 each; and the "Best in Show" winner took home $1,000. The competition was tight, and the innovative ideas were amazing. Here are the teams and the ideas that they pitched:

Undergraduate Teams:

  • Pitt: Trex introduced a biodegradable, all natural chewing gum. It cleans teeth while being easier on the planet. (Pitt winner)
  • CMU: Swaset pitched an app that allows people to keep their wardrobe current by renting clothing.
  • Pitt: SimpL introduced monitoring software/technology that helps to prevent sports injuries before they happen.
  • CMU: Pairi presented an app for freelance beauty professionals that gives them tools to run their own businesses. (CMU winner and Best in Show - bottom photo)

pdma_pgh_dec_news_7.pngGraduate Teams:

  • CMU: Marine Oasis pitched a new process to feed farm-grown salmon to ultimately save the oceans. (CMU winner)
  • Pitt: Altimize introduced a new wheelchair design to revolutionize the wheelchair industry. (Pitt winner)
  • CMU: Re-spark pitched a way to help business owners utilize under-utilized parking spaces in their lots.
  • Pitt: Campus Gruv presented an app that allows students on a college campus to get engaged and connect with the campus community.

Thank you to our sponsors for donating their time and expertise to help the winning teams to further develop their products and services. Sponsors included: AMG Research, Bally Design, Cadence, Catalyst Connection, Cohen and Co., Covestro, EnSo Consulting, LeanMed and SmartHammer Innovation, Nextovation Initiative, and Oracle.

Congratulations to all winners (top photo). Thank you to everyone who participated. We look forward to watching these students successfully develop their products and grow their businesses.

PDMA Pittsburgh Proudly Sponsors Second Annual ProductCamp

pdma_pgh_dec_news_8.pngPDMA Pittsburgh was happy to be a sponsor at ProductCamp Pittsburgh for the second year in a row. This year’s event attracted a record number of people, tipping the scale at 400. Thank you to everyone who visited the PDMA booth. It was great to see so many new faces at the event.

“This is such a fun and productive day of networking, sharing, and learning for the Pittsburgh product development community. We are so proud to be a sponsor of this important event. If you haven’t attended ProductCamp Pittsburgh, I strongly encourage you to mark your calendar for next year’s event,” commented Andreas Maihoefer, PDMA Pittsburgh Volunteer Executive Director.

pdma_pgh_dec_news_9.pngGreg Coticchia, PDMA Pittsburgh Board Member and Executive Director of the Master of Science in Product Management Program at CMU, brings this event to Pittsburgh each year. The third annual event will be held on September 26, 2020 at CMU, so be sure to mark your calendar.

Check out theProductCamp Pittsburgh Video for a quick recap of this year's event. You'll learn what ProductCamp is all about, and you'll definitely want to attend next year.

Thank You for Your Feedback

pdma_pgh_dec_news_10.pngThank you to everyone who participated in the PDMA Pittsburgh survey. Your feedback is being used to help us improve the Chapter and to ensure we are meeting your product development needs.