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The Political Life - from campaigns to capitols and everywhere in between. A show about the people whose lives are immersed in the political world, and how they got there. Politicians, lobbyists, pollsters, and business people. If they're on the show, they're living the political life.

Hosted by Jim O'Brien, The Political Life introduces you to the personalities and "day in the life" experiences of some of the most interesting and dynamic individuals in the field. 

May 27, 2019

Mark DeSantis, PhD is the CEO of RoadBotics, a tech company that uses artificial intelligence and smartphones to help government and engineering firms make data-driven decisions regarding road and transportation assessments. Mark is a tech entrepreneur with a long history of work in the public sector and government affairs. He’s worked for mayors, congressman, and a president, in addition to consulting and lobbying work. Mark sits down and shares some great advice for entrepreneurs and government affairs professionals alike.

  • Mark was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • He graduated from the University of Dayton with a BA in American Studies and an MBA, an MS in Technology Management from American University, and a PhD in Public Policy from George Mason University.
  • Mark worked in consulting for Booz-Allen Hamilton.
  • He served in the White House under President George Bush in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Department of Commerce.
  • He worked as the Director of Government Relations for Texas Instruments.
  • Mark has served on the Executive teams for a plethora of startups and companies including, kWantera, Freemarkets inc, Think Through Learning and LogiNext.
  • Mark serves as an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University at the Heinz College.

 “What Washington taught me is that there is no point in getting power for powers sake, it should be power to do something useful and meaningful.”

“The advice I would give to young people considering politics, government or entrepreneurship? I would say to them - be about something before you go do it. Understand who you are as a person, what motivates you, what you care about, and focus on that first. Don’t focus on the position, title, or status.”

RoadBotics is based on an AI program developed at Carnegie Mellon: a user can download an app, face their phone’s camera towards the windshield to passively record data, and the app will automatically identify problem areas on the road. RoadBotics serves the cities of Detroit and London. RoadBotics finds innovative and cost-effective ways to collect data, including partnering with street sweeping companies. Roadbotics reduces the cost and labor required using traditional methods of road surveying. RoadBotics can not only spot existing potholes, but can also identify precursors to other road issues.

For more information, watch RoadBotics on PBS NewsHour.

RoadBotics offers internships based in Pittsburgh, and Mark encourages you to reach out with resumes if interested. You do not have to be a Steelers fan to apply!

“I think of my experience in Washington as a very positive one. It developed me as a person, helped me understand how the world works, how power works, and how to get things done. It was not a big transition into entrepreneurship!” 

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