President Barack Obama holds a robotic arm being controlled by the mind of the man in the wheel chair at right as he makes a stop at the exhibition hall of the White House Frontiers Conference on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (Michael

President Barack Obama makes a stop at the White House Frontiers Conference on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Merecedes J. Howze)

President Barack Obama visited Pittsburgh on Thursday for the first White House Frontiers Conference.  With only months left in office, President Obama made his third trip to Carnegie Mellon University to deliver open remarks and participate in a panel discussion on brain science and medical information.
“Pittsburgh has been revitalizing itself through technology for a really long time,” said President Obama.
He mentioned those examples of Pittsburgh’s technology after touring the University of Pittsburgh, where he met Nathan Copeland, a 30-year-old quadriplegic who uses a robotic arm to regain his sense of touching.
“Innovation is in our DNA.”
President Obama says the country is “doubling down” on science, technology and innovation.  It is “only with science do we have a chance to cure cancer or Parkinson’s” and “re-engineer our cities.”
President Obama admittedly acknowledged his love for the field. “I’m a science geek. I’m a nerd,” said President Obama. “I don’t make any apologies for it. It’s cool stuff.”
In addition to giving a man with a robotic arm a fist pound, the President explored other cool stuff like a space simulator, drone, and space capsule.
“For us to use our brains doesn’t mean we lose our heart. It means that we can harness what’s in our hearts and get things done,” said President Obama during his conference address.
The POTUS also talked about how he wants everyone to have a seat at the table.  “We don’t want someone with a brilliant idea not in a room because they are a woman.”
Innovation and advanced technology remained the topic of the day as President Obama joined four leading professionals for the panel. Moderated by surgeon Atul Gawande, other panelists were Neuroscientist Kafui Dzirada from Duke University, Research Scientist Riccardo Sabatini and Cellist Zoë Keating.


One of many people attending the panel discussion was Robert Morris University President, Dr. Christopher Howard.
“I am interested, intrigued, and excited about what we can do as a national university to be a part of this great tech race,” said Howard.
Although a “smaller school” compared to the conference hosts, Pitt and CMU, Robert Morris is “getting in the tech race and bringing value.”
The school currently has three initiatives keeping them in this competitive race.  Opened in 2009, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences has the Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education (RISE) Center, “a place and space simulating patient care.”
Robert Morris is the only accredited school in the commonwealth for additive manufacturing engineering. In 2015, Robert Morris University received a $224,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. With the money, they launched a Mobile Forensics and Security certificate program online, allowing students to learn to secure and analyze mobile devices and networks against cyber crime.
The White House Frontiers Conference was a one-day convening focused on building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation, while exploring new technologies, challenges, and goals that will continue to mold the future.

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