Innovator Match-Up

Engage modern interests through connections to great Innovators of the past.

Make the Match – Seven Questions

  • How would a friend describe you?
  • Which of these would be a cool birthday gift?
  • Which movie would you be excited to watch?
  • What working environment might you like?
  • What game do you enjoy playing?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • What subject or class do look forward to?

The result will be an informative introduction to an Innovator.

Once you have met your match, get to know the other men and women through their history and impact as Innovators.


John Brashear had a deep interest in the heavens but no financial means for schooling or procuring a telescope so he built one. His efforts, supported by his wife Phoebe, led to him being a well known and sought after builder of optical elements and instruments of precision. He was the third Director of the Observatory and contributed to telescopes being built and installed all over Pittsburgh.


Rachel Carson was fascinated by a delicate seashell found in rolling hills of grass by her home outside of Pittsburgh. From a young age she was prolific and skilled at creating imagery with her words. With scientific training and extensive field research, this young woman developed a strong voice for nature. Rachel Carson’s New York Times Best seller book Silent Spring and testimony before Senate spawned the environmental movement.


George Ferris heard the call from planners of the 1893 World’s Fair to create an engineering marvel more impressive that the Eiffel Tower. He knew immediately what to make…a large circular people mover. The idea was laughed at. George had experience with major construction and design, having run his bridge building firm for many years. With independent funding and tenacity – we can thank him for the Ferris Wheel.


H.J.Heinz was an 11 year old with a garden, a horse and cart, and a will to earn money for fresh produce. As he grew his resources and distribution internationally, he stayed true to the purity of his products. He practiced safe food handling and positive employee treatment, setting standards that improved lives locally with impact into the future. An advocate for the Pure Food and Drug Act and creator of the world’s most famous ketchup.


Earl “Fatha” Hines, a piano wiz from the age of 9, became known as the “Father of Modern Jazz Piano”. Earl developed a unique way of playing the piano, credited with creating this new style. He shared the stage with many greats and led one of the first African-American big bands to tour the South.


James Keeler presented scientific proof that altered previous beliefs  that the rings of Saturn were hard, consistent matter. Keeler was able to identify the rings were particulates using a spectroscope attached to the 13 inch refracting telescope. This research was conducted during his term as the Second Director of the Observatory.



Stephanie Kwolek, a pioneering scientist, developed a super strength fiber that has protected thousands of people. Kevlar, a lightweight synthetic fiber can repel bullets. Not only did she develop a material to save lives but she inspired and paved the path for many other female Chemists.



Samuel Langley, the first Director of the Allegheny Observatory, devised “selling time” to trains to fund research in Astrophysics. His interest in sun spots led him to higher ground, climbing Mt. Whitney for a better look. He also worked with heavier than air machines, similarly to the Wright Brothers. He left Pittsburgh to head the Smithsonian in DC.



Fred Rogers recognized the potential TV had for engaging youth and igniting their interest in learning. He incorporated early childhood learning techniques into the rhythm of his program – Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. This show won generations of viewers and impacted millions of dollars in funding the government allowed to public television.



Dr. Jonas Salk and his team worked seven years to develop the vaccine for Polio, one of the most frightening public health problems in the world, primarily affecting children. From a laboratory at University of Pittsburgh, they conducted one of the most elaborate field tests in history with 1.8 million local school students.


Thomas Earl Starzl is an American physician, researcher, and is an expert on organ transplants. When an organ fails in an otherwise healthy human, a healthy organ can be transplanted from a recently deceased person who has elected to be an organ donor. Starzl performed the first human liver transplants, and has often been referred to as “the father of modern transplantation.”



George Westinghouse returned from the Civil War to create his first of many patents. An engineer and innovator, Westinghouse himself can be thanked for safe and accurate train travel, natural gas and distributing electricity. Through his legacy, engineers after him introduced radio, radio broadcast, gyroscopes, an early robot among many advancements in home appliances.

Brave Not scared of how hard it might be to make something happen

Collaborative Working together towards a shared goal, being part of a team

Confident Believing in something or someone, especially yourself

Curious Having questions and working towards finding an answer

Determined Standing by a decision, no matter what difficulties are faced

Empathetic Ability to share another person’s feelings

Experimental Work with untested ideas or techniques not yet established

Motivated Enthusiasm for doing something

Observant Quick to notice things

Optimistic Disposed to favorable views

Passionate Strong feelings or a strong belief

Reflective Thoughtful

Resilient Recover quickly from difficult conditions

Resourceful Find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties or challenges

Risk Taker Willingness to try new things without knowing outcomes

Tenacious Persistence in achieving your goals

Visionary Planning the future with imagination or wisdom

Willing to Fail Unwavering sense of purpose and pursuit, regardless of fear of not succeeding