Power Moves: A new VP for Stronghold Digital Mining and a new director for CMU's Robotics Institute - Technical.ly Pittsburgh

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Power Moves: A new VP for Stronghold Digital Mining and a new director for CMU’s Robotics Institute

Here are four new hires and promotions to be aware of in tech academia and industry.

Matthew Johnson-Roberson will lead the CMU Robotics Institute.

(Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, gig or promotion? Email us: pittsburgh@technical.ly.


RustBuilt Pittsburgh‘s fearless leader Kit Mueller announced on LinkedIn and Twitter this week that he is joining alternative energy-powered bitcoin mining company Stronghold Digital Mining as its new VP of corporate development. The news of Mueller’s new position comes shortly after Stronghold’s hugely successful IPO and finalization of its purchase of a second power plant in Nesquehoning, PA. The company also will begin its acquisition of 12,000 S19j Pro miners from Bitmain in April 2022, expanding its mining capabilities along with its power generation prowess.

Mueller was not available for comment on the news, due to the company’s current quiet period around its IPO. But on social media, he wrote “Very excited to announce that I’ve joined the Stronghold Digital Mining team, and will be growing our Pittsburgh office, and helping increase the positive impact we’re making across the country.” Mueller also added that the company is actively hiring for multiple roles across engineering, finance and operations.

It remains unclear what Mueller’s move will mean for his roles at RustBuilt Pittsburgh and One America Works, where he’s helped to grow and strengthen the Pittsburgh tech and entrepreneurship communities, most recently with the inaugural RustBuilt Pittsburgh conference in September.

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This morning, Carnegie Mellon University announced that Matthew Johnson-Roberson will become the new director of the Robotics Institute. He will take over the role following the interim leadership of CMU Professor Srinivasa Narasimhan, who held the top position after previous director Martial Hebert became dean of the university’s School of Computer Science.

Johnson-Roberson is himself a graduate of that school, and returns to CMU after working as an associate professor of engineering at the University of Michigan’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. While there, Johnson-Roberson also co-directed the university’s Ford Center for Autonomous Vehicles — an experience that will certainly help him integrate CMU with Pittsburgh’s status as a hub for that industry.

“We’re at a really important inflection point in the trajectory of robotics,” Johnson-Roberson said in a press release on the announcement. “It is a larger field. There are more students interested in robotics, and people are building systems that work. We have an opportunity to determine how we want to deploy robotics in the world and how can we use that technology to produce the most good.”

Founded in 1979, the Robotics Institute has long advanced research in the field that has enabled Pittsburgh to attract both talent and business ideas to enable local industry’s growth.

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This week, RE2 Robotics announced that Lisa Michaux-Smith was recently promoted to director of systems engineering after working in different roles as a software engineer for the company over the past 15 years. Michaux-Smith’s position will head a new department at RE2 that will aim to “define policies and processes for the systems engineering group and work across all technical disciplines to strengthen product development,” a press release said.

Jess Pedersen, RE2’s director of marketing, wrote in an email that internal promotions of long-time employees are particularly important now, during a widespread pattern of job quits dubbed The Great Resignation.

“Because of this phenomenon, I believe that it is even more important to celebrate employees like Lisa Michaux-Smith, who has been with RE2 Robotics for fifteen years – a tenure unheard of for most young professionals,” Pedersen wrote.

In her time at the company so far, Michaux-Smith has worked as a technical lead for many company projects, and has also acted as a mentor to new employees as well as assisted on creation of engineering processes at RE2. In addition to the managerial responsibilities her new role entails, Michaux-Smith will also have a hand in hiring new systems and control engineers for the company.

Headshot of Lisa Michaux-Smith

Lisa Michaux-Smith

“A unique strength of RE2 is that we have the personnel and facilities to develop our robotic designs in-house, including the mechanical, electrical, and software design, as well as most of the fabrication,” said Michaux-Smith in a press release. “My goal for the department is to lead a team of engineers that closely collaborates with these more traditional robotics disciplines and brings the pieces together from a holistic perspective as we build our innovative systems. I’m excited that the company is formalizing the systems engineering function within RE2 and strengthening the ability of our systems engineers and control systems engineers to develop superior robotic solutions for a variety of industries.”

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This month, Duquesne University said it is bringing on Crystal McCormick Ware as its first-ever chief diversity officer and senior advisor to the president for diversity, equity and inclusion in January. Her work at the university will be a continuation of the initiatives she’s launched elsewhere in prior roles, most recently at the University of Pittsburgh Library System.

“Diversity and inclusion has been my life’s work throughout my academic and not-for-profit careers, and I look forward to more of this important work in a deeper capacity at Duquesne University,” said McCormick Ware in a press release. “Duquesne was where I launched my professional career, and I am honored to come full circle and return to continue this important work as the University has committed itself to an action plan with broad reach for the benefit of all who are part of the Duquesne community.”


Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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