IT group members hang on to celebrate 60th
In the midst of flourishing times for the information technology sector in the Pittsburgh region, a local organization dedicated to those who work in the industry in 2005 briefly considered packing it in.
This week, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals celebrates its 60th anniversary with a soiree at Rivers Casino.
"It's exciting and a good organization to belong to," said Patricia "Pat" McMurray, a retired instructor at Kaplan Career Center and former AITP chapter president who joined the group in 1978 when it was known as one of its former incarnations -- the Data Processing Management Association. "There's a sense of pride in belonging."
What now is known is AITP was born in Chicago in 1951 as the National Machine Accountants Association. Pittsburgh started a chapter the next year, joining 22 others in cities such as Houston, Columbus and Minnesota's Twin Cities as original members.
That same year, 1952, Thomas J. Watson Jr. ascended to president of IBM Corp. and transformed it into a global corporation and leading technology company.
In 1955, Mellon Bank became the first financial institution to install a mainframe computer, and in the 1960s became the first to automate its retail branches with terminals at teller stations.
Today, Mellon is part of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and Western Pennsylvania has transitioned from the steel capital of the world to home to more than 1,600 information technology companies providing hardware, software and telecommunications services with 27,000 employees, according to the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
One of the area's biggest technology successes was landing Google Inc., which opened an office in Pittsburgh in 2007 and could eventually employ as many as 500 people at its Bakery Square location in East Liberty.
The Technology Council turns 30 next year, and CEO Audrey Russo calls it amazing that organizations like AITP have been here twice that long.
"I love that these kinds of legacies exist," Russo said.
While IT jobs have grown exponentially, membership in the local AITP chapter has dropped significantly.
Membership peaked around 400 in the 1970s and 80s. Today, it stands around 28, with members ranging in age from 21 to 75.
"We're still going, and we get new people at every meeting," said chapter President Stan Hoffman. "Hopefully, young people will start to take over. We need to figure out how to get into other businesses with technology, and we will start to grow again. Nearly every company is involved with technology."
When he became president in 2005, Hoffman and fellow board members discussed suspending chapter operations. They decided not to.
Instead, they rededicated themselves to providing educational opportunities for members and others interested in technology.
"If you don't learn something in technology every day, there is something wrong," said Hoffman, who serves as project manager for Babcock Lumber Co. in Swissvale. "Technology is changing so much there is always something to learn."
The local chapter long has been involved as sort of a mentor for other chapters throughout its region, which includes West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina, said AITP member McMurray of Carrick. The chapter helped start one in Johnstown several years ago, which is headed by Hoffman's son, Matt.
In 2006, the group started a charity golf tournament and has raised more than $20,000 to provide scholarships for information technology students attending schools in the region.
The decision not to go on hiatus paid off in 2009, when the local organization was named the national association's 2008 Outstanding Chapter and was presented "The Cup" prize.
"Like the Stanley Cup, we held the award for a year," McMurray said, "and literally took it from company to company."
On Wednesday, members will gather at Rivers Casino for an anniversary event -- which members hope will be replicated someday.
"Pittsburgh has quite a bit of technology here," said Nancy See, vice president of the local chapter and systems administrator for TMI LLC in Robinson. "We're becoming a hub."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins see Stars, blanked by Dallas in opening game
- Casey calling for Medicare Part B freeze
- McKeesport, school district shore up safety at dangerous intersection
- West Mifflin Area to celebrate newest graduate’s life, legacy
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Steelers quarterback Vick getting more acquainted with offense
- Mon River Fleet honors 2015 Women of Achievement
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Clerical error blamed as Armstrong inmate is released
- Steelers hoping to establish run early against San Diego
- Pirates notebook: Fastball command issues hurt Cole against Cubs