Over twenty innovation and entrepreneurial-focused students traveled to Silicon Valley in mid-March as part of the 14 Floors Program. Approximately a hundred students compete for the opportunity to attend the annual Bay Area trip, and students represented the college of engineering, sciences and arts, the school of technology, and the school of business and economics. The week-long, thirteen-stop trip is enabled by friends and alumni of Michigan Tech, notably notably Dave House and the House Family Foundation, Kanwal Rekhi, Tom Porter and the Porter Family Foundation, and Charles and John Gates. The week kicked off with a 60-person alumni event at House Family Vineyards and tours of large, enterprise companies in the heart of Silicon Valley. The group moved north to the San Francisco and Oakland area, touring progressively smaller companies and startups, ending at the single-employee green technology startup run by tech alum Collin Stoner. Michigan Tech friends and alumni are critical to the tours, discussions, and hands-on activities at companies as most are in leadership positions and able to provide a diverse and often behind-the scenes view. HP executive Stuart Pann led leadership discussions and a tour through HP’s technology gallery, Alphabet Treasury VP Tony Altobelli showcased his mini-Wallstreet trading room deep within Google’s campus, and alum Alex Johnson walked the group through Facebook’s sprawling, city-like campus before a technical discussion. Other stops included the China-based, Germany-designed, California-engineered electric vehicle startup Byton, Distribute, nVidia, regulars like Clari, Handshake, Twilio, Netflix, and Ford’s new research facility called Dearborn Labs.
Student photos and videos from the trip are here.
In mid-April, the bi-annual Michigan Tech based component of the 14 Floors Program will see a small contingent of guests on campus, including regulars Dave House, Kanwal Rekhi, John Rockwell, and Shankar Mukherjee. These alumni will spend a number of days engaged in one-on-one advisory and technical discussions with staff and faculty, mentoring sessions with students, panelists for business plan pitches on and off campus, and networking opportunities with the campus community. Students on the Bay Area trip will have a chance to debrief with these guests and the campus community in the Pavlis Honors College’s ICE House which fosters and houses entrepreneurial students on campus.