14 Floors Houghton

October 9-12, 2017 Agenda

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

9:00 AM

(60 min)

Breakfast Shelden Grill (7th floor of hotel)
10:00 AM
(120 min)
CIS roundtable with ICC / CS / ECE 112 EERC
12:00 PM
(60 min)
Lunch TBD
12:40 PM

(~60 min)

SBE Strategy Class – guest Fisher 129 Share your CEO experiences with students 30 students
2:00 PM Campus Forum with President MUB A Formal state of the state Campus
3:00 PM
(30 min)
Maker Space tour & Pavlis Honors College (PHC) & Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) ecosystem updates MUB Pavlis
3:30 PM

(30 min x 3)

Classroom / Mentor Sessions B01 MUB Adam Weber Pavlis
3:30 PM (concurrent, 60 min) SBE Entrepreneurship Class
(2 min pitches or gp-arounds)
MEEM 302 Coach eight startup teams seeking to crowdfund their ventures. 26 students
5:00 PM
(60 min)
Pavlis Honors College social GLRC atrium Informal networking  to precede business pitches. Heavy hors d’oeuvres. Qty. 50 – high-tops in atrium. Beth & Carol.
6:00 PM
(~90 min)
Business Plan Pitches – (Idea / Seed Stage) GLRC 202 PHC and SmartZone advanced business plan pitches. Classroom style setup. 30-50.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

9:00 AM

(60 min)

Breakfast Shelden Grill (7th floor of hotel) Informal. Private Buffet.
10:00 AM

(60 min)

Research, Corporate, Michigan Tech Entrepreneurial Support Corporation Lakeshore 123 Baker
11:00 AM
(60 min)
SmartZone overview Lakeshore 123 SmartZone
12:30 PM
(~90 min)
Lunch CFCO
2:00 PM
(60 min)
CS current and future research, CS faculty and graduate students Rekhi 101
3:00 PM SBE strategic plan discussion–with Dean Johnson AOB 101 The business school will share its strategic plan
5:00 PM
(60 min)
ICE House tour & student discussion ICE House
21610 Woodland Rd, Houghton
6:00 PM Exec. Reception at ICE House ICE House
21610 Woodland Rd, Houghton
Annual social event with students, staff, faculty, execs. Julie cater



Thursday, October 12, 2017

9:00 AM

(60 min)

Breakfast Shelden Grill (7th floor of hotel) Informal. Private Buffet.
10:30 AM
(60 min)
Keweenaw Research Center / APS LABS (tent.) KRC / APSRC Geoff & APS
12:30 PM
(60 min)
Working Lunch (& Jim Fish present) GLRC 202 (Adam get Rodeo?) U-Shape for 10
2:00 PM Wrap-up / Next Steps GLRC 202 Open invite for discussion U-Shape for 10
3:30 PM Depart to CMX for NetJet flight

TiECon 2017: Motivate. Network. Lead.

TiECon Summary: May 2017

By Aaron Kostrzewa

tiecon2From my impressions at TiECon, I gathered that entrepreneurship is more of a group effort than an individual endeavor. I saw the hard work of hundreds of Indian-Americans come to fruition through the efforts of networking and collaborating. The camaraderie amongst the leaders of the event was a reminder of how entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, and one to be enjoyed at that! I observed humility, generosity, frugality, and perseverance in the prominent leaders of TiECon. My biggest takeaways were to motivation to succeed and a new network of acquaintances.

The different tracks offered at TiECon allowed for customizable experience for each attendee. I was able to choose which tracks interested me and while I wasn’t always able to attend one relevant to my business, I gained general knowledge from all of them. The keynote speakers provided their life endeavors which I found fascinating. Specifically, Patrick Soon-Shiong recounted his life-long pursuit of curing cancer, which he informed us that he had just done so. Vinod Khosla recalled his successes with Sun Microsystems, leaving out the part that he had become a billionaire in the process. He instead commented on the results of his charitable giving, a trait a greatly admired in him. TiECon reinforced my view of what the ideal entrepreneur looks like: extremely hard-working, philanthropic, and persistent.

In order to bring such a mentality to Michigan Tech, we must devise a way to implant the idea that engineers can be entrepreneurs. From day one at Tech for me I was inundated with the “Tech Dream”: get good grades, get an internship each summer, get a good job. The possibility of becoming an entrepreneur would never have crossed my mind had it not been for my intrinsic desire to be one. As such, we can improve the entrepreneurial environment at Tech by reminding students that they can have an amazing career starting their own business. Perhaps having a Tech alum entrepreneur come during O-Week to talk about their career would act as a catalyst to encourage entrepreneurship on campus. Further, informing students of the Pavlis Honors College and The Alley will show them some of the resources they have available to them.

While TiECon as a whole was beneficial for me — it allowed me to go on my first real “business trip” — I was disappointed by the content of the tracks. Most of the talks were panels of a few experts on the topic where the conversation was loosely regulated and not always relevant. The drone track that I was most excited for wasn’t about new ventures in drone technology but rather about current regulations, so I was disappointed.

Overall, I enjoyed my experiences at TiECon and I am very grateful for the experience!

TiECon 2017: Entrepreneurship. Innovation. Lessons Learned.

TiECon Experience May 5-6, 2017

By Rachel Kolb

tiecon4TiECon was an amazing experience where I was able to learn more in two days about entrepreneurship than I have over the course of last year. I met some remarkable people and the energy of the conference was what I will take away the most. I believe that the energy I felt at the conference was also the energy of Silicon Valley itself. It was new and it was exciting. Everyone I met was proud of their work but instead of just boasting of their work, they wanted to learn more about their colleagues’ work and the products they were creating.

I believe the Michigan Tech campus shares a small part of this culture which means there is a foundation in which we can build an entrepreneurial mindset on campus. Students at Michigan Tech are ready to create and share their work with others. The campus body is very inclusive and welcoming which provides the perfect campus culture to the discovery and implementation of new ideas. These two aspects of campus show that a Silicon Valley culture has the possibility of forming on the campus of Michigan Tech. This fall, several of the University Innovation Fellows, including myself, are working toward building an Innovation Week around the timeframe in which the Silicon Valley guests will be visiting. If this event proves successful and reaches a large portion of the student body, I believe it will be a good stepping stone in pushing the Silicon Valley culture on campus. It will introduce students to the mindset of an innovator and entrepreneur.

The TiECon experience gave me such good takeaways that I would like to bring to campus and that will help me in my future career path. The most valuable thing I got from the conference was the insight I gained from all of those around me. Through the numerous panels, I was able to discover many of the setbacks as well as advantages of running a start-up. Many of the panelists touched on the most effective way to form a start-up company and how to lay the groundwork as you build the company. This insight hinted at the structure of the team needed at a startup, the amount of knowledge you needed to have about your products and the various markets, the story you have to portray to potential partners, and so much more. I was able to take more away from this conference in one day, than I have been at previous conferences twice as long as this one.

Other Key Takeaways

  • Being a CEO can be lonely because you cannot show your doubts or fears when you lead the team.
  • For small markets, performance tends to matter more than brand.
  • The delivery of the idea, not the idea, makes the money.
  • Silicon Valley is a place where rich people want to meet poor people (description of investors’ relationship with up and coming entrepreneurs).
  • Need to have the ability to adapt and follow market trends.
  • A business model needs to show the clarity of thought—you cannot boil the ocean.
  • Data is an asset and a liability.
  • Your first customer will take a lot of your time.
  • Take more shots on goal; gives you more of a possibility of getting lucky.
  • A company becomes the people it hires, not the business plan it makes.
  • Good partners can be inflection points for you.

I came to this conference with very few expectations except to gain information about entrepreneurship. I walked away with more knowledge than I had hoped and experiences that I did not dream of having. The moment Dr. Soon-Shiong stated he had found a way to cure cancer early Saturday morning of the conference, I knew this experience was one of the most impactful experiences I have had since beginning my college career. I am thankful I was given the opportunity to attend.

Next year, I would like to help with the promotion of the conference and possibly promote it in the fall semester during innovation week. I believe that if the activities taking place that week can get students excited about entrepreneurship, then it will be an excellent time to promote the conference and it would allow us to reach a larger portion of the student body.

14 Floors Houghton, Michigan: October 9-12, 2017

Silicon Valley friends and friends of Michigan Tech, 

dave_houseYou are invited to join me for a trip to Michigan Tech in October. This trip part is of our long-standing, bi-annual campus trips which have evolved over time and are now named “14 Floors.”

We will arrive in Houghton the evening of October 9 and depart on the afternoon of October 12. I’ll supply the customary private jet transportation directly from Minneapolis to Houghton and back again, taking care of the most unpredictable leg of the trip.

Think of it as a mini-conference, with the ability to pick and choose from the departments of your choice, one-on-ones with faculty and staff, student mentoring, lab and facility tours, etc. The remainder of the time will consist of group activities including panel discussions, business plan competitions, social gatherings, etc.

Student-focused activities are key during the visit, and both the School of Business and Economics and the Pavlis Honors College provide opportunities with entrepreneurship-focused students. We would love to have you be role models for these future leaders and help shape the programs that foster their growth. Finally, the social activities, including an annual event that allows networking between students, staff, faculty, and alumni will allow for more informal interaction.

I hope you can join us. Detailed flight information will follow.

Dave House ’65

14 Floors Bay Area Day 1: Autodesk. Handshake. Skymind.

Autodesk is located across the street from Ferry Building, one of the most iconic locations in San Francisco. A few of the Autodesk highlights:
  • A life-sized styrofoam concept car from Mercedes-Benz that was referred to as the “seed concept” because the design was inspired by the idea of injecting car DNA into a seed and letting it grow into an automobile.
  • Models of several architectural products, including three towers in Beijing, one of which was just completed.
  • A portable incubator for premature babies that has saved countless lives in India, in part because of its affordability.
  • A “smart stake” that can be bought at nearly any home improvement store that analyzes the soil and the surrounding conditions to identify when the grass needs to be watered or the best time to grow crops.
  • A soccer ball that can generate enough electricity to keep a light bulb lit overnight using the stored kinetic energy from kicking it around during the day.

Autodesk has a workshop area that is open to employees and visitors. They offer classes on how to use Autodesk software and then output those designs through CNC machines and 3-D printers. -Tommy Stuart

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-175434Autodesk creates software that is used for many different types of design. We got to go through the gallery and see some of the things their products are used for in terms of designing. One of the cool things that was designed was a soccer ball that people can play with for 30 minutes or more and after that it has the ability to keep a light on for about 3 hours. We also got to see how their software incorporates with 3-D printing technology. One of the cool things that we learned is that Autodesk’s software was used to send the first email file, which was of a wrench, into space for it to be 3-D printed. This was done as a result of one of the crew members losing their favorite wrench and asking for a new one to be sent to them.  – Marcia Drabek

To get to Handshake we rode a San Francisco electric zero-emission bus. Within Michigan Tech’s social sphere, Handshake has a mighty reputation. The co-founder, Garrett Lord, is infamous around campus. Handshake was founded by Michigan Tech students.

The company includes 50 employees, and they serve 170 schools as of fall 2016, with an expected growth of up to 400 this coming school year. Almost the entire office space is windows. There were at least three dozen developers clacking away at their MacBooks while we walked around, and we were led into a conference room where we learned the timeline of the company from Michigan Tech to Silicon Valley. -Tommy Stuart

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-190657-2Adam Gibson, the founder and a Michigan Tech alumnus, explained that Skymind is a B2B company, selling artificial intelligence primarily to banks, telecommunications, and governments. Maybe because I knew very little about Skymind, this was the most enjoyable company to visit of the day. Adam is magnetic, energetic, passionate, and a little quirky. His sense of humor is unique and he often chuckles at his own jokes.  I found that to be endearing.

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-190539I was constantly jotting notes down as Adam fired off facts, figures, names, and a detailed history of Skymind. For instance, Skymind has 20 employees, planning to expand to 50 by the end of 2017. They are a remote-first company with employees in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia/Singapore, Australia, Russia, and Montreal.

While at Michigan Tech, and living in Houghton, Adam explained that he was involved with forming startups, and he worked in IT Oxygen at Michigan Tech. Perhaps the most inspiring quote from Adam that I heard was, “You have to be able to stomach the rejections.”   – Tommy Stuart

14 Floors Bay Area Day 2: Twilio. Porter Family Vineyard.

Twilio does cloud communications and operates as a platform as a service (“PaaS”) company. It was founded in 2007 and has about 1,250 employees worldwide, about 550 in San Francisco. We toured the facility, learned about the company’s values , attended a question and answer session.

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-142333-1The energy and enthusiasm was palpable throughout the entirety of our visit there. It was a pleasure to visit this company, and I think many of the students on this Silicon Valley trip will be applying to work there in the future. And, should any of us get a job at Twilio, one of the rites of passage for new hires is to use Twilio’s API to create an app or experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming atmosphere in Silicon Valley. -Tommy Stuart

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-192055michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-202942Porter Family Vineyards
Tim Porter walked us through the inner workings of the Porter Vineyards and the operation left us all with a sense of awe. After a short above ground tour we made our way down into the cave. At its deepest the cave is about 60 feet underground and the temperature is 58 degrees. The carbon footprint is near zero, with much of the electricity powered by solar energy. One of the cooler aspects is that the cave is run from the cloud. If the temperature ever gets too high, it automatically regulates itself. -Tommy Stuart

14 Floors Bay Area Day 3: Evernote. Brocade. Clari.

Evernote’s primary product is a note-taking app that the company tries to publish on every platform. For instance, they have a version of their app on Windows Phone. What’s interesting about their development is that Evernote embraces any given platform’s individual strengths and features. They have to work harder to do this, but it provides them with—in their words—”free” marketing. That’s because whenever a new OS update or device launches, Microsoft, Apple, or Google, will usually roll out Evernote to show how these new features are exemplified in of one of their partner’s apps. Evernote is never happy with the present and they’re always looking to the future. One of the ways that they are improving their services for their customers is by embracing machine learning, so that when a user types in a flight number or a movie title, the app knows to generate notifications and information related to the user’s input. So, if I type in a flight number, Evernote will automatically inform me of the departure time and whether there are any delays. However, sometimes information that I type in will generate a false positive, meaning that I typed in something that wasn’t a flight number, but Evernote thought it was. Evernote needs the authority to look at what went wrong when a user reports an error. This visit, more than any other on this trip, served as a reminder that presentation is important. -Tommy Stuart

As expected, Brocade’s campus is amazing. To give some perspective, there are three towers here that house offices and workspace for 2,400 employees. The facilities are impressive. There are no less than two data centers, one that’s just for visitors to see, and a real one that is inaccessible to the public. On top of that, there are cafes, a WellFIT fitness center that i saccessible 24/7, and a beautiful view of the city, including a clear line of sight to Levi’s Stadium, where the 49ers play. Along with Northeastern University students, we were provided a catered lunch by Brocade during which the chairman, Dave House (a Michigan Tech and Northeastern grad), talked with us about a variety of topics, including the trajectory of everyday interactions between humans and technology, and the importance of diversity in the tech sector.

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-125135-1Afterward, we saw the data centers and other facilities, and then attended a panel that included five current employees of Brocade from a variety of positions and departments. As an audience member, I learned about what it’s like to be part of a company that is in the process of being acquired. And finally, there was a mixer with both universities’ students and Brocade employees.  It was a fun event that involved networking, ice cream, and games like foosball. -Tommy Stuart

Clari was founded about five years ago, focused on providing a variety of predictive analysis, and they bill themselves as a sales execution and forecasting platform. A couple of its clients are Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco, but there are dozens of others.  In fact, Clari has a wall dedicated to holding plaques of each of their clients. It was, in a way, awe-inspiring to see that such a young company had accrued such a prestigious and deep list of clients.The office environment at Clari is impressive in its own right, too. Nearly the entire office space is one large room. As we walked in, there was a kitchen area immediately to our left and to our right was the lobby/sign-in, where the wall of clients stands. Past the lobby is the work area, accompanied by a couple lounge areas and conference rooms. Unlike most of the other businesses that we’ve visited on this trip, the conference rooms were not named after video games, TV shows, or movies. Instead, the names were inspired by what I can only assume are our national parks, or at least California state parks. At least to me, the most iconic part of the office space, though, was the functional garage door in plain view at the back of the office. It symbolized, whether intentionally or not, the cherished identity of a Silicon Valley startup. 

Three people met with us during our visit: Amy Johnson, a Michigan Tech alum; Will, from product management; and Venkat Rangan, the CTO of Clari. Amy worked for IBM shortly after graduating with her BS in computational math and then worked for Compuware in Detroit before they transferred her out to Mountain View, CA. From there, she worked at a couple startups and finally landed at Clari, which seems like a perfect fit for her, given her enthusiasm for the company and its projects.  She shared the company’s values with us and is the person that took us on the tour of the office. Incidentally, Clari has a tractor that employees can ride around inside, and that’s its sole purpose. Unfortunately, it was down for repairs while we were visiting. Venkat, who spoke with us last, is the co-founder of Clari and has been involved with several successful startups in the past. He detailed some of his past ventures, and also explained some of Clari’s inner workings. For instance, Clari deals primarily with open source platforms like Linux and Apache, and the languages that they use most are Java, R, Scala, JavaScript,Python, and MATLAB. It was a pleasure meeting each of these three people, but Venkat’s insight and extensive experience was the highlight at Clari. -Tommy Stuart

14 Floors Bay Area Day 4: HP. Netflix. Ford. House Family Vineyard.

michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-140249 michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-135526-2

Original HP Offices

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

We arrived at HP a little early, which was great because we had the opportunity to look aroundt he Welcome Center before our tour.  The lobby to the Welcome Center houses the actual offices of the founders, William Hewlett and David Packard. Visitors can walk around the preserved offices and see artifacts from the company’s history. The more modern part of the lobby features an enormous video wall that supports touch input, so visitors can select items on the HP timeline and watch videos about certain events or people from the past and present. 
michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-132818Our tour included an explanation of HP’s biggest profit machine: printing.  You didn’t think we’d go to HP and not learn about printers, did you? The most impressive aspect of HP’s printing business is just the sheer magnitude of its reach. Their equipment is responsible for printing the now famous Coca-Cola campaign wherein the beverage giant had individualized bottles and cans with the 400 most popular names in the country emblazoned on the labels. That could not have been done cost effectively without HP’s printers. HP also has a printer that outputs at around 100 mile per hour. We were treated to a demonstration of this lightning-fast printer, and it was remarkably impressive. Certainly, more impressive than one would think a printer could be. The Chief Supply Chain Officer of HP, Stuart Pann (Michigan Tech alum), greeted us about halfway through our tour and we were able to sit down with him in one of the conference rooms. His story is incredible, and it was pleasure hearing some of the things he recounted to us. He came to Silicon Valley and originally worked for Intel. At Intel, Dave House (currently of Brocade) sought him out and provided mentorship. Later, while still working for Intel, he told us about the time that Steve Jobs approached Intel to produce parts for a project in 2006, one that would later go on to completely revolutionize a semi-stagnant market segment.  That projec twould be called the iPhone. Intel turned Jobs down, instead partnering with Nokia on the Meego-based N9. Needless to say, Stuart expressed interest in what could have been.
As a group, our first experiences on Netflix’s campus were interesting. Jim Baker, one of the attending Michigan Tech staff members, commented “I thought Netflix was a video streaming company, but I didn’t know it was a restaurant, too.” That’s because most of what we saw was a working environment that seemed to place community above all else. Humans tend to place a lot of social worth in sharing food and breaking bread, so as a result, a lot of Netflix’s communal space seems dedicated to cafes and eating spaces.  =I believe it was Adam Johnson, MTU’s advancement officer and the photographer and organizer of this trip, that added Netflix may have taken into account the “Google ratio,” which sets aside a certain number of lounge areas or areas per square footage. From what I saw, that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. 
michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-121754Our tour guide was Lilit, and she walked us through quite a few spaces and at least three buildings per my count, but several buildings are connected via skywalks, so it can be difficult tos eparate one building from another. At the end, we were led into a very unique room that had informally been dubbed “the Thunderdome,” after the eponymous location from the Mad Maxmovie. Over lunch, we chatted with Lilit and four additional women that work at Netflix, T.Y., Samantha, Sue, and Alayna. Each of them comes from a different department, but they all had a very similar message: Netflix is a company with a unifying mantra of freedom and responsibility. That is to say that employees at Netflix are given the freedom to work the way they choose and are expected to take responsibility for all their actions, and that seems to be a two-way street for employees and the company. For instance, employees are given the choice to work in a “bull pen” style space or have their own cubicles. It’s a culture of “context, and not of control.” And for any aspiring Netflix applicants, please know that curiosity is a highly desired trait for employees; embrace that curiosity and try not to let “magic” explain how things work behind-the-scenes. -Tommy Stuart
Our very last company visit was to Ford’s technology lab in Palo Alto. In 2012, Ford opened their first Silicon Valley lab. In January of 2015, Ford expanded that operation and opened the Research and Innovation Center here in Palo Alto. Very soon, they’ll be expanding the Palo Alto lab to include two more buildings. Clearly, Ford wants in on the technology market. And we were told as much by Dave Kaminsky, a Michigan Tech alumnus who has worked for Ford in Dearborn, and in places like Brazil and Germany. He’ll be transitioning back to Dearborn within the next couple months, and he hopes to bring some of the Silicon Valley back with him, so keep an eye out for possible internships and co-ops at the MTEC SmartZone.
michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-191636Our tour of the facility in Palo Alto included the project and demo space, which I did not get to experience, because I volunteered to take part in a virtual reality demonstration out in the parking lot. The concept was to provide drivers with a simulated environment that would be devoid of physical consequences while also testing the driver’s ability to maneuver the car. The provided scenario was that eventually, this technology could be used in an empty lot, and the driver would wear the VR headset while driving the car. Simulated obstacles, either stationary or otherwise, would present themselves and the driver would do their best to avoid hitting these obstacles. The data collected from an experiment like this could potentially be used for granting licenses or even for determining safety protocols. Our group, at the suggestion of CameronBurke, began calling the experience the Ford Onboard Reality Display, or the recursive acronym “F.O.R.D.” In its current incarnation, the F.O.R.D. resembles something akin to a 3D version of the Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog, but the project is still very young and improvements are inevitably on the way. -Tommy Stuart
michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-225417michigan-tech-14-floors-bay-area-2017-223606House Family Vineyard
The last event on our itinerary was hosted by Dave House at his vineyard in Saratoga. He and his family have an absolutely beautiful home at the top of a mountain that I believe is called Mt. Eden, and the estate overlooks the entire city, with additional views of Cupertino. We arrived a little before sunset and it was brilliant being able to see the city go from daylight to moonlight. Of course, what would a vineyard reception be without wine? The House family provided all attendees with free wine from the vineyards, as well as hors d’oeurves, dinner, and dessert. It was quite the reception, as you can probably tell. Students in attendance were granted the opportunity to network and learn from Michigan Tech alumni currently living and working in Silicon Valley, and I don’t think any of us squandered that opportunity. Many of the faces that we had seen throughout the week came to the reception and students gravitated to Christine from Twilio, Amy from Clari, and Stuart from HP. And it goes without saying that many of us tried to get Dave House’s ear and his advice. – Tommy Stuart

Silicon Valley Farewell, 2016.

alumnieventOh, and the alumni party. This was the grand finale. Everyone we met this week and the top alumni in the Bay Area all gathered in a meeting room at Facebook. Like the technical legend, behind the TCP protocol, the Pentium processors and the floppy disk, all in one room, all Tech alum. Keep in mind there were like 50 people in this room. Each of them with extremely impressive backgrounds.

“This experience made me even more proud to be a student at Tech and I am very confident that when I graduate I will accomplish great things.”

Last, but absolutely not least, was the Facebook alumni event hosted by Facebook that evening. We were in a small event room with food and drinks provided. I can honestly say that I will always remember that night as the night that made me decide I want to live and work in the Bay Area. I think I speak for all of the students on the trip when I say that we were star struck beyond belief speaking with Kanwal Rekhi, David House, and so many other successful MTU graduates. I even met a lady who worked on the stealth bomber for Northrop Grumman, which excited me particularly because of my interest in aerospace. I also met two current MTU graduate students who are interning at Tesla Motors, and they gave me all sorts of advice for applying and recommended I do so.

The Silicon Valley Experience trip was without a doubt the greatest trip and weeklong experience of my life. I met so many incredible and successful people, a lot of whom graduated from MTU, and made some very good friends along the way. I will forever be grateful for the MTU alum who donated to the school to help pay for this trip as well as to all of those who organized it. My mindset has changed greatly with respect to my career and where I want to be in a few years. This week has truly been one for the books.

Michigan Tech student writers:
Cole Gingras
Kyle Ludwig
Arick Davis
Alec Holm

Written by
Adam Johnson

Sindhuri Bhattaram 1st Firmware Intern at Tesla Motor
“Shivaram Viswanathan This is cool :D. The post is great overall!”

Sacha (Alexandra) Patera 1st Director of Law-STEM Initiatives | Connector | Partnerships & Entrepreneurship | Adviser
“Nice piece. the MS in Law also just returned from silicon valley. similar trip different companies”

Eric Bacyinski 2nd M Engage Michigan Program Manager at University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) “Sounds like an incredible event Adam, I noticed this on Brent’s wall and run a similar annual trek for U-M entrepreneurial students around the same time of year. Perhaps there’s opportunity to brand the Great Lakes state together?

Timothy Ward 1st Seeking New Adventures
“I went on this trip years ago. It was amazing then and it looks even more amazing now. :)”

Anupam Mehendaley 1st Associate Electrical Engineer at Nexteer Automotive
“Delighted to see the program so strong! Brings back fond memories of my own experience with the program back in 2013.”

Roshni Sachar 1st Incoming Analyst at Credit Suisse
“This is so awesome and what great pictures! Thanks for a wonderful trip Adam!!”

Elizabeth Van Dam 1st Realtor at Chase International
“Adam, Send them our way, many firms from California are coming here to Reno NV. Reasons include, better tax breaks, no state income tax, beautiful city with easy access to the Mountains for skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and biking. Tesla has their huge battery factory here. We need more educated workers!!!”

Kevin Coleman 1st Firmware Tools Engineer at HGST “Awesome article! Brings back a lot of great memories from when I got to go. Glad to see the program is still going strong :)”

Ellen Nightingale, EIT 1st Graduate Research Assistant at Iowa State University
“I appreciate the experience I gained from this trip in 2013 and I am glad to see it continue and grow, hopefully for many more years to come.”

Paul van Susante, Ph.D. 2nd Senior Lecturer at Michigan Technological University
“Sounds like a great experience!”

Joyce Carter Merchandiser at PepsiCo
“I have a son Eric Carter, who will be a graduate this year from Michigan Tech University, and I am so gracious and happy that he got a chance to experience the trip to Michigan Tech Silicon Valley. I will be so excited and proud to see him walk across the stage and accept his degree. He has accomplished a lot. Now it’s time to accept that wonderful job position that he has worked so hard for, and his dreams will become true. Thanks Michigan Tech University and Michigan Tech Silicon Valley for giving him a chance.”

Rob Fjerstad 1st Senior Software Development Manager
“Adam – congratulations on another successful spring break high-tech tour. Wish I could have participated and greeted the team. Hopefully next year I’ll be in a position to host the team. Great write up by the students.”

14 Floors Bay Area 2016: Handshake. Porter Vineyard. Ford. Netflix. Apple.

Tuesday – March 8
handshake2handshakeOur second day was spent visiting Garrett Lord at the growing company Handshake – originally started in Houghton. From their recent move in just a week before, the team was hard at work while Garrett and select members of his staff revealed the secret to the success of the business model. Now working with universities like Princeton, Villanova, Michigan, and Stanford the company is rapidly scaling and expanding into new spaces. Understanding the struggle of a multinational and all-inclusive company vision, the team has key metrics in place and features unveiling in the near future to improve the software.

Handshake, a company founded by a few Michigan Tech graduates who quickly realized their company had potential and moved to the Bay Area. The office sits atop Bank of America and has an unreal view of San Francisco, something I think every new college graduate dreams of. The employees are all relatively young and the environment is very Silicon Valley – everyone there was willing to do whatever it took to see the company succeed.

Porter Vineyard
portervineyard2portervineyardTim Porter worked as an engineer for several years before finally moving to take over the vineyard that his father started and made so successful. He led us through the cellar tunnel carved through this very vineyard, where all of the fruit processing, fermenting, and storage is done. The incredible part was that they also had furnished tasting rooms inside the cellar. In the main dome tasting room, they had prepared wine and cheese/chocolate pairs for us all to try and then mingle with a pizza lunch to follow. They were extremely generous and it was a fantastic afternoon in Napa.

netflix2netflixI wake up and my first thought is, ‘I am exhausted’. Day 1 and day 2 were amazing. I have a dozen new Linkedin contacts, and interest in companies I did not know existed 48 hours ago. Today can’t go any better.

“From the moment we walked in I could tell this place is serious about movies.”

Each of the rooms were named after movies or tv shows, not that shocking, but there was also extensive theming to match. We were in the Cowboy Bebop room right at the door there was a huge mural of the characters. Dianne, a Tech alumna was our host. She is the Director of Engineering Tools at Netflix. Her and three other engineers gave us a great understanding of how technology behind Netflix works. We got a pretty cool behind the scenes look into all that makes the streaming service work. We even got a little insight to the technical challenges in optimizing streaming quality for a wide variety of internet conditions and streaming platforms. Netflix hosted us for breakfast and we discussed their jobs doing stream rate optimization, hardware integrations and expanding video streaming into different cultures and remote regions. The part I found most interesting was Netflix exceeded expectation in the viewing habits among different cultures. They found certain shows worldwide were strongly homogenous among viewers regardless of location and culture, something I’m sure anthropologists and sociologists alike would find fascinating. With the conversation never in a lull, the question and answer session scheduled for the initial part of our tour took the entirety of our time.

apple2appleThe next stop was 1 Infinity Loop. Michigan Tech grad Dan Lykowski was pretty cool. He works on the security stack for pretty much all Apple devices. He was humble, but It sounded like has a pretty important position. According to Dan all of the positions at Apple come with a high level of responsibility. Even the interns are assigned specific task that play a direct role in ongoing development. There was very little we were allowed to see and even less Dan was allowed to tell us. Dan was able to get us pass the Apple security and inside the infinite loop. This is not small feat and was an absolutely glorious feeling! We got to stand on the same ground at as Steve Jobs. If I had a bucket list that would definitely be a check mark.

“I asked Dan to sign my Macbook Pro… He said no, but I had to try.”

Seeing Infinite Loop and the Apple campus in person left me a bit star struck. Although we were only allowed in the main lobby and into the courtyard inside all of the main buildings, it was still an incredible experience. The MTU graduate who spoke with us told us all of the different projects he had been a part of and different release delays he was responsible for, which was pretty funny. We also walked right under Tim Cook’s office, which left several students a bit starry eyed.

ford2fordOur last official stop of the day was the Ford, more specifically the Ford Research & Innovation Center. This Silicon Valley office is Ford’s stab at developing a young technology focused division within their cooperation. I did enjoy hearing the history and success the office has seen. Dave Kaminski was our host for the event, he is the Director of the Research & Innovation Center. He is another very successful tech alum. Ford chose Dave and his partner Dragos Maciuca to start this satellite office whose focus is autonomous vehicle technology. We got a full tour of the faculty and even got a look at some of the development products. Spoiler alert, not all of them have four wheels.

Ford Research and Innovation Center was pretty incredible – although as a mechanical engineer I may have been a bit partial to them. It was very interesting to see all the different projects they were actively working on, including the autopilot or self-driving vehicles. We were led to their garage where they were benchmarking the performance of the open source Tesla Model S for Ford’s vehicles, as well as to their driving simulator.