Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By Patrick Varine
For Tom Smith of Penn Hills, gaining access to the international scientific community from his home on Datura Drive might seem like a big challenge.
Smith owns and operates Penn Hills Scientific from his home, supplying moisture-analysis equipment and providing training and services to clients.
And surprisingly, access to a world of science and the laboratory instrumentation industry is just a short car ride away in Wilkins Township.
Smith is a regular exhibitor and conferee at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy, known colloquially as Pittcon. Its staff is based in a Penn Center office in Wilkins.
Once a year, however, the 11-member staff is joined by about 100 local volunteer scientists and educators who come together to host the world’s largest annual conference for individuals who work in the laboratory science field and companies that market lab-science products.
In fact, the conference is so big, it outgrew Pittsburgh’s hotel and convention-center capacity by the late 1960s. It is now hosted alternately by New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando and this year, Philadelphia for the first time.