Pittsburgh Robotics Network Welcomes Josh Lucas as Director of Programs

Mar 4, 2024 | Announcement, News, Press Releases

Photo Credit: Benjamin Prisbylla

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN) is excited to welcome Josh Lucas as its new Director of Programs. A seasoned professional with extensive expertise in technology, leadership, workforce development, and strategic innovation, Josh’s role is pivotal to the success of the ambitious “Expanded Pathways to New Economy Careers” project. This initiative, which is funded by a significant $24.8 million U.S. Economic Development Administration Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant, aims to revolutionize regional upskilling, support the adoption of robotics and autonomous technologies, and dismantle barriers to employment in the region.

“Our organization is actively engaged in numerous initiatives aimed at fostering business expansion and economic advancement. These efforts are designed to strengthen our globally recognized robotics and autonomy sector while creating inclusive opportunities,” said Jennifer Apicella, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network. “We are delighted to welcome Josh to our capable team. His leadership and support in guiding our strategic projects and programs will be invaluable.”

Josh is well known for his decade of engagement in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Initially focused on establishing software startups, he pivoted to become a provider of necessary services by founding the region’s first web developer bootcamp, Academy Pittsburgh, and a community-centric business incubator, Work Hard Pittsburgh. Combined, those projects created $30 million of salaried placements into junior tech and tech-adjacent positions. Over $15 million of wages were directed to people from underrepresented groups, and $3 million worth of pro bono support was provided to regional nonprofits.

“Josh brings to the PRN a history of exceptional outcomes, especially related to workforce development. Dozens of local leadership positions in government, philanthropy, and tech are filled with his mentees, creating a professional lineage that has pushed the region towards more equitable outcomes. The board is excited to see what his network and experience will bring to the robotics sector,” said David Kalson, PRN board member and Co-Leader at the Dentons Venture Technology National Practice Group.

“Pittsburgh stands at the forefront of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence – key technologies poised to transform our economies and societies. As the rate of innovation quickens, it’s imperative for regional organizations to unite under a shared vision of the future, and commit the resources necessary to achieve it,” says Josh. “Wait any longer and it will be too late.”

Josh’s leadership at Academy Pittsburgh and Work Hard Pittsburgh has equipped him with crucial skills in community engagement and fundraising, as well as comprehensive insights into the complexities of workforce development within the tech economy. He is passionate about creating process-driven organizations that can leanly accomplish big things.

Mike Embrescia, Board Member of the PRN and Chief Development Officer at Carnegie Robotics weighed in, “Josh Lucas is a trailblazer in the Pittsburgh technology ecosystem. As a former startup founder myself, Josh was one of the first to step-up and help me on my path. There was nothing in it for him; no money, no credit – he was just fueled on helping elevate Pittsburgh entrepreneurs, from all walks of life. It is a welcomed surprise to have him join the PRN team. Josh Lucas is exactly who we need to help get PRN to the next level!”

“In every act of work, we need to make sure that we can measure success, and that what we’re building is aligned with a strategic vision that has tangible outcomes for the people that we serve,” Josh explained.

The Pittsburgh Robotics Network welcomes Josh Lucas and anticipates his impactful leadership in this vital role, further cementing Pittsburgh’s status as a top destination for robotics talent and industry innovation.