As the very first high school intern at Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Dylan Lopata made quite an impact. “He set the bar very high,” according to his mentor Alicia Majors-Myrick (above). So much so that the URA has since invited four additional City High interns.
The URA encourages the equitable revitalization of communities and businesses throughout Pittsburgh and helps make homes affordable for first-time purchasers. So the task of managing all that data can be daunting. Dylan joined the URA team to create and update the company’s older databases while helping to reorganize and automate their software information for easy use.
“I’ve done programming most of my life.” Dylan reveals. “I started when I was very young, making games.” In addition to the required technology curriculum at City High, he also took electives in Programming and Digital Media and even worked on City High’s paid Tech Team, trouble-shooting hardware and software issues. These tech classes and experience were instrumental in his successful internship.
Working with URA’s team, Dylan learned to apply SQL (Structured Query Language) filters. But he went above and beyond and wrote AutoHotKey scripts with automation codes for the URA databases, making the job of sorting information simple, with just the click of a button. As Dylan puts it, “I was given a task to create a database into a spreadsheet and it would take several days to accomplish. Instead of beginning to input all the data manually, I began to write a script that would get all that done in less than a day. And it worked great!”
Ms. Majors-Myrick recalls her pleasure with the OwnPGH first-time homebuyers program database. “Dylan helped me set it up so that anyone can look at the spreadsheet and see where any one of the borrowers are at any time in the process. It helps us to be proactive and avoid tasks falling through the cracks.”
Dylan also helped a team coordinate a program, which they proposed to the mayor’s office. So Dylan met the mayor during his internship. “It was like he was a URA employee,”
his mentor said. “And when we had the opportunity to have him come back as a paid employee, we did that as well. We tried to keep him around as much as we could.”
So why did Dylan come to City High instead of Brashear? Besides the fact that his brother also went here, Dylan’s favorite part is “…involvement with friends. That’s what keeps me going. Social life – you’re going to lose that once you leave high school.”
City High also offered Dylan the ability to explore his passion for all things tech. Even his internship helped him hone his scripting skills. He plans to bring these to his Senior Project, which is still evolving.
Originally it was from a science perspective on light pollution, including his developing a telescope that will use scripting to apply site-visitors’ polling data to point the telescope. “It will be a foot wide telescope that should be a little bit bigger than 7 feet tall,”
he says “and it would be automated so I’ll be able to run the website with a polling system so visitors can vote on what star system they like and [the telescope] will automatically go to it and photograph it.”
Who knew that when Dylan Lopata went to Advanced Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama it would spark a celestial photography business and his Senior Project? Photos taken by a telescope built by Lopata. From L to R: Partial Moon, M31 System and Orion.
“We all live in a city, so you don’t really look up at the stars. You can’t see a lot.” He says. “I plan to bring back the interest in space, teach people about it, get them into it. …give them access, offer pictures, using livestream control so they can choose what they want to see.”
Dylan has applied to University of Huntsville, Alabama and CCAC. Huntsville is where he attended the Advanced Space Academy (even got college credit for that). His main goal is to go to the US Air Force, after which he will use the benefits he gains – plus his enhanced scripting skills – to start his own business capitalizing on his exceptional technology talents.