PITA Technology Areas

Technology areas are identified by an assessment of economic conditions, technological needs, industry involvement through our Advisory Board and areas of expertise at Carnegie Mellon, Lehigh University and other PA institutions of higher learning involved in the PITA program.

The following paragraphs describe each technology area, objectives, industry participants and government agencies with vested interests in benefiting from technology transfer.

Technology Area 1: Innovative Infrastructure Systems and Assessment Technology (IISAT)
The objectives of this area are to: a) develop and implement innovative structural materials, components, connections, assemblages, and systems that are cost effective, durable and easily maintained and their corresponding design methods and b) establish methods to evaluate and predict the future condition of structural elements and their protective coatings and advance in methods for the rehabilitation, repair, and strengthening of damaged or deteriorated structural components. Examples of important technologies encompassed by this research area include:

  • Innovative ship designs and materials.
  • High-performance steel and concrete bridge systems.
  • Rehabilitation of structures using fiber reinforced composite materials.
  • MEMS and related technologies for sensing and monitoring of large structures.

Technology Area 2: Infrastructure Safety and Security Technology (ISST)
The objective of this technology area is to evaluate, develop and implement new materials and methods to protect the general infrastructure (transportation, buildings, water supply, wastewater treatment, and public utilities) from natural and man-made effects including earthquakes, wind, fire, flood and blast. Examples of key technologies contained in this research area include:

  • Advanced Fire Dynamics in Large Structures
  • Self Centering Braced Frames
  • Polyurea-Based Structural Coatings under Blast Effects
  • Sensor Networks and Infrastructure Security
  • Management of Interdependencies for Critical Infrastructure

Technology Area 3: Information and Systems Technology (IST)
The goal of this technology area is to develop and exploit information technologies that will lead to providing the right information to the right person at the right time. This will lead to more efficient, reliable, and robust data storage and information systems. The technologies developed in this would have diverse applications in industrial operations, e-commerce, public safety, training, security and utilities. Important technologies in this research area include:

  • Agent-based technologies for secure information retrieval
  • Mobile computing and sensor-based control methods for surveillance
  • Software and networking technologies which guarantee infrastructure security.

Technology Area 4: Product and Process Design and Optimization (PPDO)
The goal of this technology area is to develop information driven design and manufacturing systems as well as tools to optimize the development of products and processes. Systems research supports the need for design and manufacturing technologies that are of interest to Pennsylvania based companies. Optimization research explores untapped synergies at the interface of cyberinfrastructure, process systems engineering and operations research to develop novel computational models for improving the operation of the petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Industry and government participants include: design firms, manufacturers, computing/communications infrastructure companies, chemical companies pharmaceutical companies and the Department of Community and Economic Development. Examples of key technologies in this area are:

  • Enterprise-wide Optimization initiative for processes industries
  • Technologies for manufacturing electronics circuits and chips
  • Technologies for thermal management of electronics.

Technology Area 5: Biomedical and Health Engineering (BHE)
The objective of this technology area is to bring together multi-disciplinary research teams from universities, hospitals and companies to develop technologies in the emerging fields of artificial organs, biosensing, medical robotics and engineered tissues. The area will also prioritize assisted-living technology in response to the needs of the Pennsylvania’s aging population. This technology area will support the future growth in the development, design and manufacture of biomedical techniques and systems that will improve the quality of life for citizens of the Commonwealth. This area is of interest to Pennsylvania based companies involved in engineering design, manufacturers, health care providers, hospitals, medical centers and computing/communications infrastructure companies. Government participants include, NSF, NIH and Departments of Community and Economic Development. Examples of important technologies in this research area include:

  • Engineered tissues, endovascular grafts and artificial organs
  • Implantable MEMS and computer aided surgery
  • Coatings and microparticles for drug delivery
  • Robotically assisted living.

Technology Area 6: Environmental Technology (ET)
The objective of this technology area is to implement comprehensive, systematic models, which treat all stages of life of a constructed facility or manufactured product as part of an integrated process of evaluation. We will focus on advanced material, chemical, and biological environmental remediation technology, assisting the growing environmental remediation industry as well as baseline industries in Pennsylvania. We will develop methods and tools to assist in the effective allocation of funds on projects designed to preserve and enhance natural resources. As a result, allocation decisions will be better understood and balanced more effectively during the project life cycle, leading to a significant reduction in life-cycle costs. Industry and government participants include: owners and operators of facilities; engineering design firms; constructors; Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation; and the Department of General Services. Examples of important technologies in this research area are:

  • Process design optimization for waste minimization at the source
  • Information technology for analyzing the release of chemicals to air
  • Extruding CO2 from the air to mitigate global climate change
  • Raman Imaging Spectroscopy for evaluating biological affects in water.

Technology Area 7: Nanotechnology (NANO)
The objective of this technology area is to combine engineering design, material science, electrical, computer and mechanical engineering expertise to create innovative nanotechnology-based materials, devices and systems for sensing, energy generation and power storage capabilities. The emphasis is to support and enable the creation of a dynamic nanotechnology manufacturing capability in Pennsylvania by providing product alternatives and techniques to reinvigorate the state’s declining commodities-dependent manufacturing sector. In 2004, nanotechnology was a $13 billion dollar global industry. By 2014, that figure is forecast to reach $2.6 trillion, about 10 times the projected value of the biotech sector and about 15 percent of the world's manufacturing output. Industry and government participants include manufacturing companies, energy companies, PA DCED and other PA economic development groups. Examples of important technologies in this research area are:

  • Development of novel nanocomposite photocatalysts
  • Nanodevices for environmental monitoring
  • Nanoscale transport modeling for fuel cells
  • Development of nanostructured electrolytes for fuel cells

Courses and Outreach Programs
In addition to PITA technology areas, PITA supports a portfolio of courses and outreach activities designed to improve the skills of Pennsylvania’s current and future work force. Courses and outreach programs address engineering education over a wide range of educational levels from pre-college students to post-graduate engineering professionals, including:

  • Outreach programs, jointly sponsored with Pennsylvania companies, local school districts and education consortia, to help educate pre-college students in math, science, engineering, and technology.

  • Project courses that link Pennsylvania companies with teams of undergraduate and graduate students working on engineering projects aimed at improving the products and/or processes of these companies. These courses are part of the student's undergraduate or graduate curriculum.

  • On-site education and continuing education activities at PA companies.

  • Undergraduate research initiatives that involve students from other PA colleges and universities in university research.