This story was originally published by, a news partner of PublicSource. You can sign up for their newsletters at

In the final weeks of 2023 and first weeks of 2024, asked Pittsburgh founders and execs what trends they were anticipating for the local tech space.

Some leaders expect regulatory bodies to emphasize cybersecurity, while others anticipate more students considering their sector as a career possibility. Now, two weeks into this new year, here’s some of what Pittsburgh founders are thinking (or hoping) will happen next.

Cybersecurity will be prioritized across industries

In 2023, cybersecurity experts told that even when the worst happens and companies have to downsize, they usually don’t cut corners in the area that keeps company secrets safe.

For Vigilant Ops CEO Ken Zalevsky’s part, he anticipates that regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration would take an increased interest in cybersecurity. Having worked in the field himself, Zalevsky said being vulnerable to attacks can be costly in any industry — and when it comes to healthcare, a lack of cybersecurity can compromise patient safety. The FDA requires cybersecurity measures to be built into medical devices; Zalevsky expects other industries will follow suit.

“We’re already seeing that energy and others who are trying to look at legislation and ways to make their products within their industries more secure, requiring security documentation, like the software bill of materials and others,” Zalevsky said. (Vigilant Ops makes an automation platform for the generation, maintenance and authenticated sharing of certified software bill of materials.) “I think we’ll just kind of see that trend continue as the year [progresses].”

The commercial space industry will expand

Away from healthcare and into galaxies far away, Astrobotic CEO John Thornton told in December that 2024 could bring the commercial space industry more NASA collaborations. He cited NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative as one indicator — especially because it’s a program the North Side space tech company is participating in via its Peregrine Mission One, which launched on Jan. 8. The team’s efforts to gather payload data have been fruitful, but due to a propellant leak on Jan. 9, the spacecraft is now expected to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Additionally, Thornton imagined that companies might be willing to take more risks — but if the payoffs weren’t worth it, this could lead to fewer successful missions.

“One risk I see to this model’s success is that companies may be willing to bet everything on an opportunity to participate in the burgeoning space industry,” Thornton said. “If companies do this by underbidding future commercial contracts without having a strong financial footing, we may see a decline in mission success that could affect the industry as a whole.”

Robots will aid the manufacturing workforce, in more ways than one

Even when the world is in turmoil, things still need to be made. Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute Senior Outreach Manager Livia Rice said she believes the need for manufacturers will remain — yet robotics will be increasingly incorporated into the sector to fill workforce gaps. In addition to the ARM Institute’s outreach efforts, Rice expects robotics will be used to do the more dangerous parts of a given job, which will further incentivize young people to consider manufacturing as a viable career.

“I think that’s going to be a huge trend in really trying to influence the next generation of people to consider careers in manufacturing,” Rice said. “I’m sure when we were kids, no one was talking to us about manufacturing … but it really is a very vibrant career. So focusing on that, and then the integration of AI into robotics and manufacturing, I think that’s going to continue to be a very important trend.”

Autonomous ground vehicles will be used in government defense efforts

For Neya Systems Division Manager Kurt Bruck, the theme of 2024 is speed. The Warrendale-based company develops advanced autonomous solutions for unmanned systems and was recently selected for part of a $14.8 million U.S. Army contract along with Carnegie Robotics and Robotic Research Autonomous Industries. The Department of Defense, Bruck said, often needs its vehicles to go 80 miles per hour to effectively navigate jungles or forests.

Additionally, he thinks navigating with cameras as opposed to LIDAR-based navigation will become a trend due to the expense and the fragility of night vision cameras. He also imagines that drones and autonomy will become a priority in the name of speed and creating fewer risks for soldiers.

“The Department of Defense has been fielding drones for a decade, but ground vehicles have never been fielded. I’ve never seen autonomous ground vehicles actually working with soldiers, because it’s just more of a difficult, different challenge,” Bruck said. “But fielding these systems for the first time [will be] a key trend and overarching trend. I think in the next three years, we’re going to start to see many, many more autonomous brand vehicles working with soldiers and various missions being kind of like a tool in the toolbox that they use daily.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.

Know more than you did before? Support this work with a gift!

Readers tell us they can't find the information they get from our reporting anywhere else, and we're proud to provide this important service for our community. We work hard to produce accurate, timely, impactful journalism without paywalls that keeps our region informed and moving forward.

However, only about .1% of the people who read our stories contribute to our work financially. Our newsroom depends on the generosity of readers like yourself to make our high-quality local journalism possible, and the costs of the resources it takes to produce it have been rising, so each member means a lot to us.

Your donation to our nonprofit newsroom helps ensure everyone in Allegheny County can stay up-to-date about decisions and events that affect them. Please make your gift of support now.