Innovation Instigators

Gena M. Kovalcik

Gina Kovalcik a member of the Allegheny County Green Action Team and on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Green Innovators and Renewable Manufacturing Gateways. She works as co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kovalcik at the University of Pittsburgh’s Undergraduate Research Program Symposium

It was early in Kovalcik’s career that she first encountered the term “green building.” She was serving as the director of development for the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and knew that green building was quickly going to become a driving force within engineering education and research.

In 1997, Kovalcik —along with Rebecca Flora and Melissa Crawford — spearheaded a Green Construction Workshop at the Carnegie Museum of Art, aimed at creating Pitt’s first green engineering curriculum. In 2003, Pitt created the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI), demonstrating the University’s broader commitment to sustainable engineering with the vision and support of alumnus Jack Mascaro. Kovalcik and Dr. Eric Beckman are the founding co-directors and worked to entice faculty and students to explore and experience sustainability through the integration of curriculum, research and social engagement.

MCSI graduate students working with middle school students

Kovalcik helped grow the MCSI into the driving force for innovative research projects that it is today. The Center’s initial focus was on jump-starting research collaborations for green buildings and has grown to support seed grants for graduate and postdoc fellowships for green building technology research. The MCSI also offers an undergraduate summer research program to help students develop their own green building oriented ideas. The Center has seeded over 75 research projects and supported over 200 undergraduate researchers. With Kovalcik’s leadership, the center also offers a University-wide undergraduate certificate in sustainability as well as a master’s degree in Sustainable Engineering.

Students participate in the Undergraduate Research Program’s service project

Kovalcik’s vision for Pittsburgh’s future involves “the city making the major leap towards creating new sustainable technologies.” Kovalcik adds:  “I would love to see our young people taking the lead as innovators and entrepreneurs.  My vision would be for other cities to name Pittsburgh when they talk about the latest and greatest new sustainable product or next big company.  I hope our new programs at Pitt help to help create this student leader.”

Contact:
Gena M. Kovalcik
Co-Director of Administration and External Relations – Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
gmk9@pitt.edu
(412) 624-9698