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By Thomas Olson
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

Internet titan Google Inc. is searching aggressively for employees for its Pittsburgh office.

Google expects to soon house 200 employees at a research center in East Liberty, Andrew Moore, engineering director for Google Pittsburgh, said Tuesday.

"We are recruiting heavily for software engineers, computer scientists, statisticians, product managers and research scientists," said Moore, as guests toured the Bakery Square offices during an informal opening.

Google officials wouldn't say whether Pittsburgh could become the location of a fiber-optic network with Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what commercial providers offer now. The high-speed network would serve 50,000 to 150,000 people.

Pittsburgh is competing with 1,100 cities to build such a network, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said.

Google expects to select one or more cities for the network by the end of the year, said spokesman Dan Martin.

The owner of the world's most popular Internet search engine began moving into the Bakery Square space in August and employs about 150 here.

Built in 1918, the building was a commercial bakery until Nabisco closed it in 1998. It was remodeled into a "green building" with office and retail space in 2008.

Google's offices include a unique meeting room in a converted grain silo from the bakery days. In another area, a giant cargo net hanging from a ceiling corner is meant to stimulate creative thinking.

"Pittsburgh is not just another Google office. It's a key office," said Stu Feldman, vice president of engineering.

Google Pittsburgh's computer scientists created the popular Google Sky Map application for smartphones, to provide a map of the night sky by pointing the device upward.

"Pittsburgh is also our center for any searches related to shopping," Moore said.

Using artificial intelligence and "massive number crunching," he said, the Pittsburgh employees determine which online ads are the most relevant to show people when they query about something.

Based in Mountain View, Calif., Google landed in Pittsburgh in 2005, with a staff of two Carnegie Mellon University professors at the university's Collaborative Innovation Center in Oakland. Its presence here ballooned to about 100 in 2009, when it selected the East Liberty space.

"If you run out of space here, we can probably find more space for you somewhere else," said Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon.

About half of Google's personnel in Pittsburgh and nearly 300 people globally are Carnegie Mellon graduates, Cohon said.

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