Industry Invests in Women’s STEM Summer Programs

Across the United States there is a serious shortage of women enrolled in engineering and degree programs and ultimately entering the work place.  According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), only 18-20 percent of engineering students in the nation’s universities are women.  To further compound the problem, only 14 percent then go on to careers in engineering.


Why are so few women going into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields?  According to ASME several reasons have been suggested including lack of female engineering role models, misconceptions of what it is like to be an engineer, and having fewer technical problem-solving opportunities through K-12 compared to men. It’s also suggested that there is lack of encouragement from parents, teachers, and counselors.  “The real challenges for reaching out to young women is to get over the stereotype that engineering isn’t something girls do and then to help them build their confidence,” Betty Shanahan, executive director of the Society of Women Engineers, told the Washington Post.

The good news is that over the past decade, universities, K-12 schools, and industry have been working together to encourage more female students to explore science and engineering.  Michigan Tech has a long and successful history of providing unique hands-on programing for young women that addresses the critical need for talent in STEM fields here in Michigan and across the nation. Our Summer Youth Programs (SYP) ( provide an on-campus experience for pre-college students designed to ignite their passions in STEM.


To encourage young women to pursue engineering education and careers, Michigan Tech’s industry partners have stepped up by investing in the university’s signature engineering and STEM summer youth programs geared for young women.

Women in Engineering 2015-196

Over the past two years, Ford Motor Company has provided $40,000 for Michigan Tech’s Women in Engineering (WIE) and Women in Computer Science (WICS) summer youth programs.  The WIE program, which began in 1973, is a week-long summer camp for high-achieving young women in grades 9-11. Led by faculty, staff, and graduate students from Michigan Tech and role model speakers from industry, participants spend the week exploring future careers in engineering. They learn about multiple engineering fields, complete group projects, and more.  In addition to Ford, many companies have supported WIE scholarships over the past 40 years with notable recent significant funding from the 3M Foundation, donating $150,000 over the past 6 years, sending girls from Minnesota for an experience of a lifetime.

“Ford Motor Company is pleased to support the WIE program at Michigan Tech,” said Cindy Hodges, who is chassis supplier technical assistant site manager at Ford. “We recognize how important it is to encourage young women to study engineering. As an alumna of the WIE program myself, I know how the program really helped me determine I wanted to be an engineer. It’s great to be a part of this wonderful program.”

In addition to WIE support, funding will be used to create a Junior Women in Engineering program in 2016.  Similar to WIE, it provides an opportunity for younger women (grades 6-8) to explore fields of engineering through hands-on projects and investigations. This program will serve as preparation for the WIE program.

Related to the engineering summer programs, Ford provided funding for the 2016 Women in Computer Science (WICS) youth program. WICS brings young women to campus for an exploration in computer science (CS) fields, a program on campus which was brought back to life thanks to a donation of $45,000 over the past three years by Lansing, MI based Jackson National Life.  The primary goal is to introduce the students to the many ways that CS profoundly impacts every industry from medicine to e-commerce, engineering to insurance, and much more. By giving high school girls an opportunity to explore computing projects alongside their peers, we build their confidence in their ability to succeed in a field in which women are often underrepresented. WICS students will take their new confidence and skills with them into post-secondary programs — eventually bringing them into STEM professions.

Women in Engineering 2015-310 compressFiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is also committed to increasing the number of women entering engineering professions, especially in the automotive industry. FCA Foundation donated $30,000 to create a week-long summer youth program in 2016, designed to encourage young women to consider careers in automotive engineering.

Women in Automotive Engineering (WIAE) serves to specifically engage high-achieving young women to experience this field in a hands-on, discovery-based learning environment amongst their own peers, and compel them to consider the immense possibilities that can be found in the automotive industry.

“Although women purchase 60 percent of all vehicles and influence nearly 85 percent of all car-buying decisions, enrollment of women in baccalaureate engineering programs remains stubbornly low at around 18 percent,” said Stephen L. Williams, head of safety compliance and product analysis for FCA North America. “By Sponsoring the FCA Women in Automotive Engineering Summer Youth Program at Michigan Tech, we hope to encourage promising young women to consider engineering as a field of study and a career in the automotive industry.”

WIAE will be modeled after the successful WIE program.  However, WIAE will focus on disciplines and projects directly related to the automotive industry in areas of mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering as well as human machine interface.

By hosting programs exclusively for girls, Michigan Tech is trying to change the widespread perception that STEM fields are only for males. The programs also promote diversity by welcoming students from across the U.S. and around the world.

Michigan Tech would like to challenge industry partners and individuals who are passionate about advancing women in STEM fields to fully scholarship all 240 women program participants for 2016.  To learn more about how you and your company can make a lasting impact for the next generation of women leaders, please visit or contact:

Cody Kangas,
Director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach


Ford Motor Company Donates Support for Women in Engineering Scholarships

Ford Motor Company Donates Support for Women in Engineering Scholarships

Last Modified 10:42 AM on Mon Mar 2, 2015

March 2, 2015—

By Monica Lester

From the left, Women in Engineering alumnae Monica Lester and Rachel Kloc,, Tech alumna and Ford representative Cynthia Hodges, President Glenn Mroz, WIE alumnae  Kara Barakowski and Maggie Stangis.

From the left, Women in Engineering alumnae Monica Lester and Rachel Kloc, Tech alumna and Ford representative Cynthia Hodges, President Glenn Mroz, WIE alumnae Kara Barakowski and Maggie Stangis.

Science, math and classes are normally the farthest things from a high school student’s mind during summer vacation. But every summer about 150 pre-college women trek up to Michigan Tech to participate in Women in Engineering (WIE), a scholarship program and an intensive, exciting week-long look into engineering careers. For some, it’s a life-changing experience.

This year, WIE and the young women attending will be able to do even more, thanks to a $10,000 donation from Ford Motor Company.

Tech alumna Cynthia Hodges, representing Ford Motor Company, presented Michigan Tech with the company’s check. Hodges earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech and participated in WIE herself in 1980. She is also on a committee at Ford Motor Company called Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), which encourages women into STEM fields, especially engineering. So when an opportunity came to support another program at Michigan Tech, Hodges knew which one she wanted.

“Ford Motor Company is pleased to support the WIE program at Michigan Tech,” said Hodges, who is chassis supplier technical assistance site manager at Ford. “We recognize how important it is to encourage young women to study engineering. As an alumna of the WIE program myself, I know how the program really helped me determine I wanted to be an engineer. It’s great to be a part of this wonderful program.”

Hodges presented Ford’s check in the John Edgar McAllister Welcome Center. Many people came to celebrate this donation. Brent Burns, director of industry relations at Michigan Tech, introduced the speakers. Cody Kangas, director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach, said, “Every summer we look forward to WIE.”

Then four WIE alumnae – Rachel Kloc, Monica Lester, Maggie Stangis and Kara Bakowski – stepped up to speak on the experience they had at the program and how it changed their lives.

President Glenn Mroz talked about the employment rate and how the number of people earning degrees is ever-changing process but those with degrees are needed. “These kinds of things do make a difference,” he said.

Finally, Hodges spoke, emphasizing the importance of WIE. “When people ask me what has changed my life, WIE did,” she said.

Kangas said, “Ultimately, the short-term effect of this donation is that 10 more women will be getting scholarships for this summer, but long term, these women have a bigger potential to become engineers and to come to Michigan Tech.”

WIE also has a Superior Ideas page, where Ford Motor Company’s contribution is shown along with others. Superior Ideas is a crowdfunding website at Michigan Tech that helps bring university research and public service projects to life. To contribute to WIE, go to


Michigan Technological University ( is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Original URL:

Tech Students Explore Career Options at Medical Career Week

Tech Students Explore Career Options at Medical Careers Week

Michigan Tech students will get to explore a wide variety of careers in the medical and health fields during a four-day event called Medical Careers Week. Medical professionals from diverse fields will be on campus to discuss their professions and the educational pathways to success in those fields and to answer students’ questions.

Medical Career Week topics will be

  • Monday, Jan. 26—Medical Informatics
  • Tuesday, Jan. 27—Allied Health and Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Wednesday, Jan. 28—Medical Careers
  • Thursday, Jan. 29—Medical Devices

Each day features a Lunch and Learn presentation from noon to 1 p.m., followed by small group discussions with visiting professionals from 6 to 8 p.m. These informal events will take place in the Memorial Union Ballroom. They are open to all students, and no registration is required.

Departments in the College of Sciences and Arts, the College of Engineering and the School of Technology pitched in to help organize the event. Guy Hembroff, director of the medical informatics graduate program in the School of Technology, helped organize Medical Informatics Day. High school students from area schools who are involved in robotics have been invited to participate.

Jason Carter, chair and professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology, and Karyn Fay, director of the medical laboratory science program in the Department of Biological Sciences, helped organize Allied Health/Medical Laboratory Sciences Day.

Stacy Cotey, director of pre-health programs, helped plan Medical Careers Day. Students from the health careers programs at local high schools have been invited to participate.

Sean Kirkpatrick, chair of biomedical engineering, helped put together Medical Device Day. A variety of medical device companies will be at Michigan Tech to discuss the future of the medical device industry.

Many of the speakers are Michigan Tech alumni, including William Karpus ’84 (BioSci), Brad Tomassucci ’84 (MedTech), Erin Thompson ’02 (ClinLabSci), Robert Richards ’77 (MedTech), Tracey Bershing, ’92 (Pre-PharmEd), Michelle Seguin ’07(BioSci), along with current medical students Eric Sturos and Stephanie Rutterbesch.

“Events like Medical Careers Week give students from all fields of study the opportunity to learn more about careers available in the medical field, said Shelley Farrey, coordinator of career development for Michigan Tech Career Services. “Not every student knows what avenue he or she wants to pursue in life when they enter college. Medical Careers Week gives them a chance to learn about the many opportunities available and the paths to get there.”

Michigan Tech Partnering with Local Businesses – GreenForces

Michigan Tech would like to announce its partnership with GreenForces – a consortium of aerospace, technology, and defense companies located in the Upper Peninsula.  The GreenForces consortium provides niche technology capability for developing product solutions in heavy vehicle, off-highway, aircraft, rotorcraft, and marine applications.  The consortium focuses on developing engineering and production solutions that are sustainable and environmentally conscious.  This includes material optimization for weight reduction and increased lifetime as well as performance optimization for mechanical systems, engines, electronics, and power utilization.  Michigan Tech provides material, metallurgy, electrical, and mechanical engineering expertise to compliment the capability and capacity of the other members of the consortium.

Greenforces graphic for blog

Each of the partnering businesses has the versatility and quick response that only small businesses can bring while leveraging the research and development capability of Michigan Tech.  With the combined resources of the companies, the consortium can provide support to any part of the product development process.

GS Engineering – Electrical, mechanical, and material engineering for vehicle and aircraft systems.  They provide innovative solutions for weight/size reduction, FEA and failure analysis, structural optimization, electronic equipment design, and vehicle testing.

Great Lakes Sound and Vibration (GLSV) – Noise, vibration, and harshness analysis, design, and testing services.  GLSV has extensive experience with exhaust systems, suspensions, and isolation systems and has a suite of capabilities for benchmarking, standard tests, and root cause analysis.

Creative Composites – Composite material development as well as component design and fabrication.  With design and development in armor and ballistic protection, Creative Composites brings effective and practical composite solutions.

IR Telemetrics – Advanced testing solutions for rotating equipment and hard to acquire data.  IR Telemetrics provides custom testing solutions for wireless acquisition of strain, pressure, torque, temperature, and fluid flow in harsh environments like those inside engine hot sections.

L’Anse Manufacturing – Precision machining and low volume high mix manufacturing for aluminum, steel, magnesium, titanium, plastics, and other materials.  L’Anse Manufacturing provides the high reliability and quality machining that is needed for aerospace, medical, and military applications.

Calumet Electronics - High Reliability bare printed circuit card fabrication since the dawn of the industry.  Calumet Electronics provides secure, safe, and sustainable PCBs for aerospace, military, and power transmission applications.

For more information on GreenForces, visit their website at  If you have interest in joining GreenForces or working with the members of the organization, please contact Executive Director Rob Cooke at 906-231-7769 or

American Transmission Co. Sponsored Senior Design Receives Award

Senior Design projects provide an opportunity for students to apply their skills and knowledge to real life engineering challenges. It also provides companies with a taste of what Michigan Tech students have to offer in developing creative solutions that utilize skills and knowledge acquired throughout their degree pursuit.  Senior design is a win-win for students and industry partners alike.

This year’s American Transmission Company (ATC) Senior Design team was nothing short of fantastic. While they gained experience relevant to their Electrical Engineering course work, they also contributed towards solutions and innovations in the area of motor drives for ATC.  ATC acknowledged the student project in their June newsletter issue of PluggedIn.

Guided by their faculty advisor, Trever Hassell, along with a team of professional engineers from ATC, with their mentorship and support the students not only met all project goals and expectations set by ATC but also earned the Electrical and Computer Engineering department’s “External Advisory Committee Industry Innovation Award”. This award is given annually to the Senior Design team whose project and deliverable are considered most impactful to industry expectations while benefiting the sponsor.

For more information about the Senior Design program please contact Rick Berkey,, (906)-487-4309.

Chrysler Helps Formula SAE Team Make it to Competition

On the road to competition in Detroit, MI, the Michigan Tech Formula SAE team ran into transmission issues just south of the Mackinac Bridge. Chrysler of Gaylord, MI came to the rescue in good time to help them make it to competition and back safely.

The team is very appreciative of all the assistance they received from Chrysler. “Chrysler has always been a tremendous asset to the Formula SAE team and Michigan Tech” said the teams Chief Engineer, Chais Eliason.  “We are keenly aware that we could not have been successful down at competition this year without the support of Chrysler”. The team earned 61st place overall out of 126 teams.

Students Pull Together to Pull Off BonzAI Brawl

by Dennis Walikainen, senior content specialist, Michigan Technological University

The recently completed Seventh Annual BonzAI Brawl attracted some 120 students, alumni, faculty and staff and was a resounding success, according to organizers and advisors.

“Northern Michigan students even competed remotely, due to weather, and that’s the first time we’ve done that,” said Mike Stefaniak of Husky Game Development (HGD) Enterprise. With Women in Computing Sciences (WiCS), they were the chief organizers. “We hope to do that again in the future.”

According to Stefaniak, in the BonzAI Brawl, teams create autonomous agents (via artificial intelligence, the AI in BonzAI) to overcome challenges and outperform their opponents. Students have no prior knowledge of the game design and mechanics before BonzAI. The morning of the event, students learn about the game and then have eight hours to develop their autonomous agents. In the evening, they watch their agents face off against each other as they compete for first place.

This year’s top three teams were:

1. Slaughterhouse: Kyle Falk (Computer Engineering) and Zachary Dunham (Computer Engineering)
2. Team Dinosaur: Michael Kent (Computer Science), Joseph Ryan (Computer Science) and Matthew Vaught (Computer Science)
3. The Headcrabs: Tim Bradt (Computer Engineering), David Pariseau (Electrical Engineering) and Evan Bajek (Electrical Engineering)

“The main core of students from WiCS and HGD Enterprise put hundreds of hours into creating the game and setting up the event,” said advisor Laura Brown, assistant professor in computer science.

“It is easy to underestimate the huge number of details that need to be taken care of for the event to go smoothly,” said Scott Kuhl, advisor and assistant professor of computer science. “All the planning really adds up and took a lot of effort from students to organize. The students helped with everything including writing the custom software we use for BonzAI, testing the software for bugs, finding sponsors, handling registration, creating artwork for the software and marketing materials, and ordering food and prizes.”

“Outside of this core group, we had volunteers from Michigan Tech’s chapter of ACM (Association Computing Machinery) and UPE, the computer science honor society, helped with many activities,” Brown added. “This year the Copper Country Programmers, a club of middle and high school students learning to program, also got to help beta-test and try out the game.”

“If others in the campus community (faculty, staff, alumni) are interested in participating in or sponsoring the event next year, please stay tuned to for announcements for BonzAI 2015,” said Brown.

The event was sponsored by Lasalletech, Jackson National Life Insurance Company and ControlTec.

Upcoming Design Expo Showcases Michigan Tech Enterprise and Senior Design Teams

In a recent Business Insider article it was announced that Michigan Tech has been designated the “11th university with the smartest students” in the United States. Among these smart individuals are those who will be presenting and competing in the 2014 Design Expo. This is an opportunity for over 600 undergraduates involved in Enterprise and Senior Design to compete for awards and present their projects to corporate representatives and the campus community. Often sponsored by industry, Senior Design and Enterprise help Michigan Tech students gain professional experience and a better understanding of real industry problems.

Stop by the 2014 Design Expo in the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, 3rd floor on Thursday, April 17th from 8am-4pm.

Interested in judging at Design Expo? We need professionals to serve as distinguished Design Expo judges. If you are available to judge please use the online form below to register as a judge, or email Rick Berkey.

Register to be a Design Expo judge at

This year’s Design Expo is sponsored by ITC Holdings, Black & Veatch, American Transmission Company, Continental, and Cliffs Natural Resources.

To learn more about the 2014 Design Expo, Read the Business Insiders article or for more Michigan Tech data by Niche,

Winning 2013 Senior Design Team

Team Members: Beau Baldwin, Matt Boersema, Nathan Rogers, Sarah Wells, and Elias Whitley, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: John Lukowski, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: ITC Holding and Mitsubishi Electric

Winning 2013 Enterprise Team

Team Leaders: Evan Beckner, Operations and Systems Management; Katy Hickey, Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Robert Warrington, Institute for Leadership and Innovation; Michael Neuman, Biomedical Engineering

Silicon Valley Tour – Day 5

Day 5 marked the culmination of a lot of planning on the part of our staff, our corporate partners, and especially Michigan Tech’s California-based alumni. It also marked one of the most full days of the week. Another early morning start at Netflix with computer science alumna Dianne Marsh – director of engineering tools – who provided breakfast and an in-depth, honest look at Netflix from one of their theaters. Computer science faculty member Dr. Linda Ott joined and learned as much as the students.

The activities at trip sponsor Brocade Communications began in the early afternoon with an introduction by Rachel Moussa and an executive briefing by VP of software marketing, Kelly Herrell. Herrell gave a presentation on leadership and answered questions by the students before transitioning to a panel discussion led by Michigan Tech VP of student affairs and advancement, Les Cook. Rita Hui, Sindhu Payankulath, Dhanashri Patil, Jeff Rangel, and Jodi Podolsky represented engineering, corporate affairs, and diversity. The group tackled a wide range of technical, strategy, and leadership questions before taking a lab tour with Josh Oelrich. A networking social followed and the students were joined by additional Brocade employees who discussed career opportunities, technology, and life in California.

The networking continued at an alumni event at Mezcal Restaurant in downtown San Jose. Michigan Tech president Glenn Mroz and wife Gail were joined by local alumni including Dave House ’65, Darel Hodgson ’63, Alex Hays ’86, Frank Shoffner ’62, Dan Lykowski ’01, and many others who shared their own stories and heard first-hand of the students’ experiences from the week. Their summaries below:

Thursday was our last day in Silicon Valley before we had to head back to Michigan and it proved to be the busiest day of the trip. We started off nice and early again, meeting at 7:15am, with Netflix as our first stop of the day. We received a brief tour of the building before having a meeting with some Netflix representatives, including a MTU alumna. While the tour was quick the building seemed to have a nice ambiance. Since the meeting was early Netflix was gracious enough to provide us a catered breakfast from Panera. Netflix turned out to have a pretty interesting work culture. They explained to us how their number one value is speed of innovation and it shows in many aspects of the company’s culture. For example, they typically do not hire new graduates and favor candidates with around 8 years of experience. This is for the simple fact that they can give their employees more liberties if they are experienced. One of these liberties is to commit their own code to the without need for approval from anyone, then if their code changes break anything they are contacted directly. This allows the whole process to be accelerated, therefore innovation can happen faster. We were also able to receive some career advice while we were there. The best piece of advice I think we received was to figure out what is the absolute most important thing to us at work, then in interviews ask questions about its shadow. They gave this example to help explain, if you want to know how they handle an employee making a mistake then ask the interviewer about a time they made a mistake and what the outcome was. This allows you to get a better idea of what actually happens due to the policies they have opposed to if you were to ask the question directly.

We had a lot of time to before we needed to be at Brocade so we decided to make a stop at the Intel museum. The museum had much of what you might expect including history of their products, how their products have helped drive innovation, along with the process of fabricating silicon wafers. Then we made a quick stop at the hotel so people could drop off/pick up some things and headed over to the plaza right behind the Brocade building.

Soon we headed over to the Brocade building where we met up with Les Cook before heading in. Once we were in we headed to a conference room where Brocade had a panel Q&A for us. We had prepared a list of questions that was given to the Brocade panel before our arrival so it was mostly directed by the list but we were able to embellish on the questions and ask further questions based on their responses. Through the panel we were able to get a better idea of Brocades significance to the market and how they see themselves leading innovation in the future along with a little bit about their company culture. Next we received a short tour culminating with a tour of their massive data center. Data centers aren’t really my area of expertise but it was still pretty impressive. As expected it utilized Brocade’s latest and greatest products and we were given a little education on them. The last stop at Brocade was a networking event where Brocade employees from different areas were present. We were able to talk to mingle with them and discuss the different roles they played within the company as well as connect with them for potential job opportunities.

From there we went to Mezcal, a restaurant where the school was hosting an Alumni event. Michigan Tech alumni from various companies in the bay area showed up to the event. I was able to connect with many of them including Dave House, the Chairman of Brocade’s Board of Directors, as well as people working at Amazon, Apple, HGST, and more. The event, as well as the trip in general, was truly a great way to meet some of Tech’s alumni and see the success they are having innovating the future while working for some amazing companies.

During the event one of the alums invited us to stop by the Hacker Dojo afterwards where he would be willing to show us around. The Hacker Dojo was a makerspace/hackerspace where people can go to utilize the equipment they have and along with the community that forms there. The Alumni event got over kind of late so some of the group wasn’t up for the visit and went just went back to the hotel while some of us decided to go check it out. The area was simple but provided some tools that would be a little too expensive for the average person to buy themselves including some 3D printers, a laser cutter, and some machinery such as a drill press. The biggest advantage the space provided though was the community of people that use it. There are lots of people with lots of different backgrounds that use the space and they are always willing to help out however they can and that can lead to some pretty amazing things. For example, we were informed that Pintrest and the Pebble watch were two projects that originated from the Hacker Dojo. When we were done there it was pretty late and we headed back to the hotel, arriving right around midnight, and most of us went straight to bed.

Our flight was in the afternoon the next day and we had nothing else planned so we didn’t have to meet until 10am and we were able to get some extra sleep before starting our journey back to Houghton. As I said before it was a long day but it was full of great opportunities and I am sure we were all grateful for the entire experience. I personally believe the entire trip was one of the best, if not the best, opportunity I have ever had and it is certainly an experience I will never forget.

Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year

Our final day in sunny California, it was a bitter sweet feeling.  Waking up late to my alarm, I missed breakfast and hurried to get ready.  Once in the vans, we headed to Netflix.  Netflix was one of the companies that I was most excited to see.  I had a few questions in mind for Netflix. I was surprised to find that the building had a more adobe feeling to it rather than a skyscraper with hundreds of windows. Sitting in one of their meeting rooms, we had a breakfast provided by Netflix and started asking questions.  I really enjoyed this type of setting because we could all hear each other, there was plenty of time to ask questions, and it was a more intimate setting.  We sat and asked questions, shared laughs, and when it came to leave, we were sad to go.

We had almost 3 hours between Netflix and Brocade, so we took a detour to the Intel museum.  The museum was surprisingly interactive.  Hearing our stomaches start to growl, the group headed to the Brocade campus to have lunch.  He groups split up and headed which restaurant they thought would satisfy their hunger.

Bellies full, the group reconvened and walked over to Brocade where we met up with the Vice President of Student Affairs, Les Cook, to have a panel discussion with a few members of the staff. Les mediated the questions that we had sent in in advance, while the staff members answered them.  The next part of the Brocade tour was being able to see some of the data rooms. When we entered the room, it seemed almost as if we were in a movie.  I had never seen such technology before unless it was in a picture or in the movies.  After everyone got the tour, we headed back to building three for a meet and greet with various members of the staff.  I had a great time meeting with company members and being able to talk to them about what their positions were at Brocade.

Following that, we headed over to the alumni reception.  The alumni reception had to have been one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I got to meet alumni that had been at tech when my mother was, some that had graduated only a few years ago, and some who graduated many years back.  Being able to hear their stories and how far they have come was inspirational.  Most of their job careers have taken them to start their own consulting firms and other to companies such as Brocade and Apple.  It seemed as if many people do not stay at jobs for more that a few years before switching to a new job.  At the alumni event, I was able to get great advice on the startup company that I am working on, as well as future contacts if I many have any questions about starting a company.  The day was so eventful that as soon as I came back to the hotel, I feel asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I wanted to thank the advisors that came on the trip, Russ and Andre.  Also, Adam for putting together the company tours.  I would have not had this experience if it weren’t for these people and Brocade for sponsoring the trip.  Thank you to all that took time out of their work days to open their offices to us.  It was an overall amazing experience.  I will be recommending this program to other students in the future.

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan – Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Today was quite involved. We were scheduled to visit not only our trip sponsor Brocade, but also the ever-popular Netflix. We left early around 7:15, and pulled into Netflix about 15 minutes later. Dianne Marsh greeted us in the lobby, sporting an enormous bag of Panera Breads breakfast treats.  She lead us upstairs to a theater shaped office room, and got us going on the food. Soon we all were sitting around chomping, and chatting. She then introduced herself and her colleague Roy Rapoport. They gave us a brief overview of what it takes to make Netflix run, and what their jobs entitled. We then were able to ask a huge variety of questions, on everything from Net Neutrality to job opportunities. I learned a lot about Netflix in the process, and discovered that they truly value the customer above all else. After thanking Dianne and Roy, we packed into our white vans and set out to find the Brocade Campus.

Brocade turned out to have a very nice campus, complete with an almost Google like feel. There was a small play area, and even basketball courts! The tour started with a speech by Kelly Harrel (VP for Software Networking), where we received awesome advice on how to get somewhere in life and technology. Then a panel of five other Brocade employees came in for a more robust Q and A. It was truly eye opening to hear from active professionals in the company. After an hour or so of panel discussion our tour guide Rachel Moussa took us to an adjoining building to meet up with Josh Oelrich. He gave us a tour of Brocades state of the art lab and Data Center; which was beyond impressive. The technology in these rooms was dedicated to modern networking, and represented hardware found throughout the world. Data Centers like this one literally run the modern economy, government, and pretty much any other company that stores data.  Josh and Rachel then accompanied us to a meeting room in Brocades main building. Once there we were treated to a table of appetizers, and even more Brocade employees. I was able to network and engage in great conversation with a multitude of people. Some were just out of internships while others had senior positions. I must say that the event went off without a hitch, and showed shear professionalism. I’ll take this time to once again thank the folks at Brocade for sponsoring the trip, and for making our last day one of the most memorable.

Anyway, after that we left Brocade and went straight to the Mezcal Restruant for an alumni event. Once there we enjoyed more food, and introductions to more than a dozen former MTU grads. There was a slight concentration on computer and electrical based vocations, but quite a few of the alumni had degrees in other areas; such as chemical, geological, and business. The highlight of my night and possibly the trip was meeting Dave House, who is a current chairman for Brocade. He has been wildly successful in areas surrounding computers, occupying high job positions in Intel and other major companies. His start at MTU and long list off accomplishments really showed me that hard work can pay off in a big way.  By the time we got back to the hotel that night I was exhausted, and could barely muster the energy to pack, but my day was nothing short of exhilarating.

Nicholas Schweikart – Mechanical Engineering, First Year

Silicon Valley Tour – Day 4

Day 4 of the trip began with Michigan Tech alumna Danielle VanDyke leading the group through Google’s Mountain View headquarters. She explained work / life balance, her typical day, Google culture, and how she uses her 20% time. Danielle introduced the group to Googler Ben Chang who answered questions from the students and highlighted stories of leadership and responsibility. A highlight was a tour through Google’s own trading room arranged by assistant treasurer and Tech alum Tony Altobelli. This eye opening and behind the scenes view of how Google manages 18.8B of on-hand assets was a treat.

The group’s next stop was Tesla’s manufacturing facility in Fremont. The former NUMMI plant sits on a 370-acre site, with most activity concentrated in the 5,500,000-square-foot main assembly building. Sheet metal in one door, vehicles out the other. Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alum Glenn Wheelock walked the group through Tesla’s red and white, robot-filled facility for two hours before letting the students play with a showroom vehicle. Their impressions below.

Starting off our day, we hopped into the vans and headed to the Google campus.  The welcome area of Google had a very relaxed feeling to it.  We got to play with a giant version of Google Maps, there was about 6 different screens that displayed what we were looking at. We were taken from the welcome center to the trading room. Oddly enough, most of the employees that did not work in the trading room have never heard about the trading room.  It was very eye opening to see how Google operated their finances, why they bought the smaller startups that they did, and how they estimated the risks.  The coolest part of Google, was being able to see a self driving car.  I had never seen one before.  This was on our way out of Google, heading towards Inn and Out Burger.  Being able to sit outside and eat lunch under the sun was refreshing.  We were very lucky to have such great weather while in Silicon Valley.

Out next stop Tesla, one of my personal favorites.  I was not caught up on all the innovations that Tesla was experimenting with.  Being able to walk through a car manufacturing floor for the first time was interesting.  Seeing the start of the model S at the beginning stage through to the finished product showed how much work and detail went into these automobiles.  Tesla let our group sit in a model S in their show room, I was ready to camp out there.  Next Christmas I know what I am putting on my wish list.  There was no chance I was leaving the Tesla campus and not getting some swag to take home with me.

Later that night, after visiting Google and Tesla, we went out in search of a restaurant that would suit a college students budget.  We walked for about an hour trying to find a restaurant that wasn’t too expensive, my group ended up back at the hotel restaurant enjoying their choices instead of the few other options.  We were getting tired at this point and decided to hangout by the pool and chat, until one by one, people started falling into the urge of sleep.  There was a lot of excitement about Netflix and Brocade the next day.

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan – Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Today started with more excitement than any so far. We were scheduled to tour Google, and Tesla Motors; basically two of the coolest companies in the world.

The first stop of the day was Google’s campus in San Jose, and all that was on my mind was the movie “The Internship”. Upon arrival our group was bummed to find out that much of the campus was undergoing construction projects. I noticed a lot of contractor trucks, big fences, and torn up ground. This may have taken away from the expected look of Google, but I knew the best things were inside the building anyway. After struggling to find the right entrance door for about 15 minutes, we managed to meet up with our MTU connection Danielle VanDyke in the visitors lobby. From there we all followed her through crazily decorated rooms. Some had doors over the windows, balloons, etc. Our first stop was the Google trading floor, which apparently not many of the employees even knew existed. The trading floor was a collection of 20 or so computers, each sporting 6-monitor displays, and all the stock market data imaginable. Danielle turned the tour over to a worker familiar with the trading floor, and he gave us a basic rundown of what they do there. I was not surprised, but still amazed to know that in that room they control about 60 billion dollars worth of assets and cash. From the trading floor we moved outside and walked across a very beautiful courtyard to another building. This one turned out to be a small professionally catered cafeteria; which is free to all Google employees. Here another Googler was waiting for us. He gave a speech and answered questions relating to Google, and professional development. Overall Google appeared to be a great place to work.

We left campus after a quick stop at the gift shop, and shipped out to Tesla Motors. By the time my van arrived at the gates to the factory, I had already seen about 20 of the absolutely stunning Tesla Model S cars zipping through San Jose. Now before me was an enormous building with the words Tesla printed across it in 20-foot tall letters.  Needles to say I was chomping at the bit to get inside. As a group we stood in the parking lot for a while gawking at a maroon Model S parked up by the building. As it turns out this particular car was one somebody owned, and he was more than surprised to see 15 college kids taking picture and scrutinizing his car. Our guide for the day finally found us, and herded the group inside to get nametags. This MTU alumni was Glen Wheelock, a B.S in Mechanical Engineering major. Once inside I was blown away by the size of the factory, and the fact that at every point in my vision there was a Model S in some stage of completion. Were talking everything from body shells, to drivetrains half mated to the frame. Glen gave us a walking tour of the factory floor, which was shut down for lunch. It was beyond imagination to see the assembly lines riddled with Tesla parts, giant robotic arms, and impossibly complex machines. Just when I thought the tour couldn’t get any better, Glen led us through some doors to a hidden outside parking lot. MY MIND WAS MELTED! I’am pretty sure I started drooling, because before us sat about 200 Model S cars in every color of the rainbow, gleaming in the Californian sun. With weak knees I followed Glen to inspect one of the Tesla Supercharger Stations against the building walls. He explained how it could bring a Model S to half charge in 30 minutes. Which for anyone that doesn’t know, is absolutely astounding. To end the tour Glen deposited us in the company gift shop, but surprised the group by letting us explore a Model S that was parked in the Showroom. This took the cake for most awesome part of the day, and I was able to sit in the 106,000-dollar car. The fit and finish was unparalleled by American standards, and there was enough technology in the car to sink a ship. All said the entire group left Tesla with wide grins, and hopes that we all could own one somewhere down the road.

Nicholas Schweikart – Mechanical Engineering, First Year

Wednesday morning we were able to sleep in a little bit and take our time getting ready and having breakfast as before meeting up at 9:45am and heading to Google. It felt good to sleep in a little bit since we had such a long day on Tuesday and I think we were all happy that we were provided a breakfast buffet at this hotel. When we got to the Google campus we had a little trouble locating the front lobby due to some construction but we eventually found our way there and met up with the MTU alumna that would be showing us around. We got a brief welcome to Google and were introduced to the Google culture a little bit before heading over to visit the trading floor. On our way there we made a quick stop to see Stan, Google’s T-Rex which is modeled after an actual T-Rex skeleton. Stan was decorated in flamingos as though he had eaten them; helping to show the fun nature of the Google campus. We continued on to the trading floor where we were able to talk to the employees responsible for making secure investments. It was a pretty interesting room that looked much like something right out of a movie scene of Wall Street. Each person sat at a computer with six different screens used for various things from what looked to market monitoring to taking care of emails. The room also had a couple fairly large televisions set to help them monitor the market as well. However, the most interesting thing to me was that each person also had two phones, one standard phone and one with a direct line to the bank that could be used to continue trades in case something happens to their standard phone lines.

Next we met up with an employee that provides support for Google’s enterprise customers. He gave us some insight into the type of work he does on a day to day basis before opening up for questions. During the Q&A we were able to get a better view of the Google culture including how employees are encouraged to use their 20% time, the ease and encouragement of moving around the company, and how it’s understandable to make mistakes sometime. The guy we were talking to told us a story about how he was troubleshooting an IMAP problem for a customer when it was first rolling out and he accidentally turned the feature off for everyone in the world and quickly received a call from someone telling him to never touch the feature again. He said he was pretty scared he was going to lose his job at first but he was ensured nothing would come of it and that everyone makes mistakes. Then they told us how there is a joke that new Googlers are considered Newglers until they break something in production.

Before leaving we made a stop at the Google store so some of us could buy some Google swag before being on our way. For lunch we just found an In-N-Out Burger which many of us had never been to before and were told was a must have. Personally I found it to be just another fast food place but that’s just me.

After taking our time for lunch we headed over to the Tesla factory. We were shown around the factory by another MTU alum. The tour was pretty awesome as we were able to see pretty much the whole process starting with body assembly and ending with a complete vehicle that gets some in house QA testing. I found it pretty awesome to see the vehicle at each stage and see how it progressed throughout the assembly process. Once the factory tour was over we were once again given the chance to ask any questions we had. Throughout the tour and the Q&A session we were able to learn a lot about the company’s vision and the vehicles they currently make.  Then we were given the opportunity to sit in and explore one of the vehicles they had in the showroom. I am pretty sure this was some people’s favorite part of the trip.

We headed back to the hotel after that. Most of the group decided to go to a Greek restaurant for dinner but some of us decided to just hang around at the hotel for a bit and explore the area for a restaurant to eat at. We soon realized that we didn’t have the same luxury of selecting from dozens of restaurants as we had in San Francisco. So we ended up just eating at the hotel restaurant and then just hanging out outside around the pool for the rest of the night and enjoying the nice weather.

Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year