Startups

Power Moves: Olga Pogoda is now COO of KEF Robotics

Plus, Jennifer Wilhelm switched roles at URA, ARM Institute named two technical fellows, Comcast picked its local RISE grantees — and hey, meet Technical.ly's new Pittsburgh reporter.

Olga Pogoda.

(Courtesy photo)

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.


Olga Pogoda recently joined four-year-old KEF Robotics as chief operating officer.

The Larimer-based robotics company is a defense contractor that develops vision-based aerial autonomous systems. The tech has mostly been applied to drones, Pogoda told Technical.ly, but forthcoming work will include helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Pogoda, named one of Technical.ly’s 2022 RealLIST Connectors, has also worked as a business operations analyst at Donnelly-Boland and Associates and entrepreneur in residence at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. She’s also the cofounder of KRNLS, a tech research and strategy firm, which partnered with RustBuilt Pittsburgh to launch agricultural tech initiative Mimetic this past year.

Pogoda said she’s had her eye on KEF Robotics since the company’s launch.

“The projects they work on are fascinating and the technology they are developing is groundbreaking in an industry that hasn’t seen as much disruption and advancement as others. A truly awesome challenge!” she said. “Most of all, I’m deeply impressed by their team. The depth of talent is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The biggest thing that always struck me is their kindness and commitment to volunteering and education. Being the first non-technical hire, I’m just very grateful and excited for the opportunity.”

An exec switches roles at URA

Jennifer Wilhelm is Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s new chief operating officer, she announced on LinkedIn today. In this C-suite position, she is in charge of internal operations at the economic development agency, including financial and tech management, and oversight of the Lending and Investments Unit.

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Wilhelm previously worked in a number of roles at URA over the past decade, most recently chief solutions officer. Previous roles include director of commercial and business lending, assistant director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and manager of innovation and entrepreneurship. She’s also board chair for the CDFI Invest PGH.

Back in March, URA announced the launch of two new social impact pilot programs centered on supporting minority entrepreneurship and business expansion, called URA Ventures and the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Developer Equity Fund. The programs will provide early-stage risk capital to business owners and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. URA Ventures is expected to announce the recipients of its first investments soon.

ARM Institute named new technical fellows

The Mill 19-based Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute announced its pick of two new technical fellows in Pittsburgh, in partnership with the AIM Higher Defense Manufacturing Community.

Fellow Jim Clark is a technology project manager for metrology at Chicago-based ARIS Technology, and fellow Christopher Ravasio is an electrical engineer with Pittsburgh’s ARIN Technologies. The two will work on their own projects aiming to boost defense manufacturing in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For Clark, that means furthering a previously funded ARM Institute project, called “Human-Robot Collaboration in Quality Inspection to Empower Workforce to Easily Program and Operate Automated 3D Scanning.” Meanwhile, Ravasio will “develop an out-of-the-box ready robotics navigation system based around Ultra-Wideband positioning with ultrasonic and laser obstacle detection.” (Phew.)

CapSen Robotics CEO Dr. Jared Glover was the institute’s first fellow in 2021.

Comcast funded 100 small businesses in Allegheny County

Along with Pennsylvania sister city Philadelphia, telecommunications giant Comcast picked 100 women- and people of color-owned small businesses from Allegheny County to receive $10,000 grants through the RISE Investment Fund, totaling $1 million.

In addition to funding, the program offers marketing and tech support to recipients. RISE stands for representation, investment, strength and empowerment.

“It’s no secret that the pandemic impacted our small businesses the most, and we thank Comcast for recognizing their challenges and the need with this program,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Thanks to these resources, we look forward to having these entrepreneurs as part of our community for years to come.”

Local grantees include the likes of restaurants, retail shops, consumer services and wellness businesses. See all recipients here.

Technical.ly has a new Pittsburgh reporter

Finally, meet Atiya Irvin-Mitchell, Technical.ly’s newest reporter in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh native graduated from Chatham University in 2017 after studying communications and political science with a focus in journalism. She has written for the Student Guide to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New Pittsburgh Courier, PublicSource, Vice, PLS Reporter, PINJ News and BlackPittsburgh.com. Follow her on Twitter @AtiyaWrites and send her pitches at atiya@technical.ly.

“I’m excited to learn more about the tech industry in Pittsburgh and do my part to make information on rapidly changing trends accessible to the general public,” Irvin-Mitchell said.

She joins Technical.ly via the Report for America service program.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell. (Courtesy photo)

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