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

Silicon Valley Tour – Day 3

Day 3 of the Brocade sponsored Silicon Valley Spring Break Tour was a day of atypical engineering applications in Northern California for the group of 15 students. Michigan Tech alumna Debra Campbell, Construction Program Manager for the National Park Service Service was first to treat the group to a personalized, behind-the-scenes, historical and engineering tour of Alcatraz Island. Stabilization efforts under the island’s largest structures are a unique challenge for engineering efforts given constraints of location and environment. The island’s shift from diesel fuel to alternative energy is an additional engineering challenge. NPS employees helped guide the group through cell block tours and a variety of off-tour experiences and insight to the island’s varied uses over the years.

An equally interesting tour was given by Tim Porter, son of Michigan Tech alum and entrepreneur Tom Porter, who toured the group though the Porter Family Vineyard in Napa. The Porter’s unique application of mesh network, remote sensing, and automated controls of everything from vine to aging is novel in the wine industry. Successes and failures of implementing bleeding edge technology in this historically hands-on industry has presented unique challenges and produced most stellar wine.

The student’s impressions of both are below:

Tuesday we had to be up bright and early in order to meet with the National Park Service down by the pier in order to catch the first boat of the day out to Alcatraz. The ride out to the island was just amazing; the view of the city and it’s surroundings along with the sunrise over the bay was simply breath taking. First we were given a brief history of the island where I learned the island was originally used as a fort before being turned into a military prison and then later changing purposes again into the federal prison that most people know it for. Once we got to the island we started off with the standard audio tour which allowed us to learn a lot about the prison and it’s history The audio tour included viewpoints from both some of the guards and ex-inmates giving us insight on some of the inmates accommodations as well as the security practices the prison implemented. I thought it was very interesting to learn about all the different aspects of the prison. Once the audio tour was over we met back up with the National Park Service representatives for some more exclusive access. We were privileged enough to get a private tour of the lighthouse, the citadel basement, the the batteries used to power the island, and the new industry building where the “good” prisoners were able to spend some time working instead of spending their whole day in their cell. While they were all great to experience the lighthouse was my personal favorite. The view from the top of the tower was insurmountable. Once we were done touring the island we caught the boat back to the main land where they also provided us some sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Needless to say they treated us very well and I was very grateful for all of their accommodations. After lunch we got some vans, headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head towards Napa Valley to tour the Porter Family Vineyards. Continuing the trend, the view was amazing with the all the rolling hills and the mountains in the background. We were given a tour of the vineyard and educated on how much the vines are effected by different amounts of water and nutrients in the soil. After that we got to see how they sort all of their berries and remove any debris before fermenting the wine and learn about the fermentation process. After that we got to tour the cave they use to age their wine. This may or may not sound like a very impressive element to the vineyard but I will ensure you that it was one of the highlights of the trip; I think it’s something you have to see to fully appreciate. The cave seemed to never end but we eventually came upon a nook in the cave set up for us to partake in a vertical wine tasting in order to experience how the wine tastes different from year to year. We were taught how to properly examine the color, aroma, body, and the taste which was judged by the acid, sweetness, and tannin of the wine. While it was easy to tell each wine had a distinct smell and flavor, my palate isn’t quite refined enough to be able to distinguish their characteristics. I still enjoyed getting to taste the various wines though and I won’t lie, it felt pretty awesome to be sitting in the vineyards cave drinking wine that sold for around $80/bottle which is much more than my college budget can really afford. I also really enjoyed getting to hear someone that knows what they are talking about teach us so much about every aspect of wine. Our guide also talked to us about some of what is necessary to pass the sommelier examination which I was just blown away by. If you don’t know what it is I would recommend reading into it a bit because I find it amazing. Once the tour was over we headed to a local pizza place to grab a bite to eat before making the drive over to San Jose and checking into our new hotel. It had been a pretty long day for all of us so we were pretty tired. We decided it was best just taking some time to settle into the new hotel before calling it a night.

-Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year

7 AM in the lobby with our bags packed was a struggle for most.  We were off to the to get a private tour of Alcatraz. The walk to the trolley stop unusually windy, but a warm wind which was a nice change from the Houghton weather.  Arriving at the port, we boarded a boat to Alcatraz with the crew since the island wasn’t open to visitors quit yet.  We were able to take the audio tour through the prison and seeing what life was like at Alcatraz.  Once the audio tour had finished, we reconvened on the lawn to head up the lighthouse.  The lighthouse is closed to the public and was only open once at the 150th anniversary of the previous lighthouse.  This exclusive tour was the best view of the city. At the very top, everyone could get a 360 degree view of the city.  Even though I was holding on for my life and trying to not be the clumsy person I am, I wished I could stay and take in the view all day.  After we descended from the lighthouse, we got a personal tour of the basement, tunnels, the workers buildings, the gun gallery, and much more that the public was not able to see.  Debbie was one of our tour guides and an alumnae, provided us with a lunch once back on land.  Leaving the pier, Debbie gave us hugs and wished us luck .  Retrieving our bags, loading up the vans and off to Porter Family Vineyard.  There were many different aspects of a vineyard that I had never realized went into making wine, not to say the time it took for a vine to begin budding.  The most fascinating part of the vineyard was the cave that the Porter Family own. They had build it to produce their wine in, the humidity in the cave was better for the fermentation and there wasn’t enough space in the original office.  In one cove where we were able to technically taste wine that was produced from 2005 (the first Porter Family win made) to 2010.  Being able see the differences in the wine in the color, body, taste, aroma, and quality was fascinating to me.  I did not know that wine was this complex. We learned how to get the best aroma out of the wine for a better evaluation of each year.  We were able to mingle and ask as many questions we pleased, most of us did not want to leave the vineyard. Alcatraz and the Porter Family Vineyard were some of the best memories I had at this point. Being able to hear the history and find out how a small startup is properly run was a great learning experience.  Google and Tesla should be interesting to see.

-Kirsten Dulbandzhyan – Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Today I awoke to the sounds of the city and my blaring alarm clock at 6 AM. San Francisco takes on a whole new feel at 7am, and clearly shows its roots in business with all the early morning chaos. Once down at the docks we met up with Debra Campbell and boarded the ferryboat. As it turns out we were graced with riding one of the newer hybrid electric boats, which was a big excitement for the EE majors on the trip. The ferries were outfitted with solar panels, wind turbines, and electric motors, in a system that helps reduce the boats use of fossil fuels. It also showcased the National Park Services drive for becoming more environmentally friendly. As one can imagine the ride out to Alcatraz was filled with more amazing views of the cityscape and vibrant sunrise. Once on the Island it became apparent that we were getting the VIP treatment so to speak, and received tours before all the other tourists arrived.  The park rangers also allowed us access to the top of the island lighthouse, and a look at the basement construction projects that were underway. I can say that being atop the 86 foot tall lighthouse was more than nerve racking, but well worth it. The view of the bay was not only stunning, but also from a perspective that most people will never have the chance to see. We then made our way into the catacombs beneath the prison buildings. Here we snaked through the ruins of the first edifice the island supported, a 1850’s civil war fort. As it turns out the prison was built right on top of the fort, and was suffering from sever structural degradation. Debbie showed us how the park service was re-constructing some steel and cement beams to stabilize the building above, while still maintaining the look of 1850’s construction. Our group re-surfaced and caught the 1:00 PM boat back to shore, where we ate a great lunch provided by the NPS and loaded up in vans. The next stop was Napa Valley, and Porter Family Vineyards. I didn’t think that California could offer up any more amazing views than those found in the bay area, but I was quickly proven wrong. The rolling green hills were dotted with wineries, and very beautiful to say the least. The Porter vineyard was atop a high hill, and overlooked a large section of the valley. Tim met us in the yard, and commenced what was sure to be a great cultural experience. We all walked with him as he explained the wine making process, and the business behind his winery. Then he took our group through two giant doors, and into his very own cave. This cave was simply jaw dropping, boasting 15-foot ceilings, textured Shotcrete walls, and loads of gorgeous stainless steal processing equipment. It was lined with barrel after barrel of wine, and wrapped around the corner out of sight. Tim talked us through the various aspects of wine making, and explained that the barrels are made of French oak, and contribute about 40% of the wines characteristics. We then walked about halfway through the tunnel, and entered a wine tasting room. This room was absolutely breath taking, sporting artwork, lit candles, and of course about 100 different bottles of wine. The room had a romantic and affluent ambiance that instantly made me feel far more elegant than I really am. I sat down at a beautifully set table, and spent the next 2 hours or so technically tasting Porter wines. I must say that the experience was beyond my expectations. I really discovered why wine tasting is such a hobby among many people. Tim and his intern exposed how wine has much more to it than just a color. We got to evaluate his wine for things like body, clarity, acid, tannin content, and aroma. He even said that our input would be used in conjunction with the first tasting of the wines to see how they have aged. It was so enjoyable, and quite unforgettable! Tims passion for wine was evident in his every word, and was only outweighed by his gracious hospitality. After a quick goodbye we put the terraces of the vineyard in the rear view mirror, and headed down into a small Napa town were we had pizza for dinner.

-Nicholas Schweikart – Mechanical Engineering, First Year

Silicon Valley Tour – Day 2

Day 2 of the tour included visits at both Autodesk and Cisco. Alum Rob Fjerstad toured the group through the 2nd floor gallery in Autodesk’s downtown San Francisco office and led a discussion with recruiting and engineering representatives. Cisco’s new acquisition, Meraki, was next on the stop. Support, and technical reps led the group through their brand new offices and open work areas on the waterfront and answered technical questions from the group. Students’ impressions below.

I woke up on Monday morning around 7:15, before my alarm even had a chance to go off, ready for the day. I got up, got ready for the day, and had a small breakfast before heading to the hotel lobby to meet up with the group at 9 o’clock. Once everyone was there we started walking towards the AutoDesk office. We were quite a bit early for our 10 o’clock meeting so we took a jaunt to the nearby Starbucks to kill some time. The meeting with AutoDesk started with a tour of their gallery which showcased some of the amazing work that their products play an essential role in. The gallery was pretty cool, containing a variety of things from watches, bridges, and buildings to animated movies, the giant Lego sculptures, and 3D printing prototypes. After the gallery tour they had a short presentation about the company and their available positions before opening up for some Q&A. The group had a wide variety of questions that provided some interesting insight into the companies values and work culture. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of their work space but from everything that we did see and hear about the company it seems like a great place to work. We had a nice break before we had to be at Cisco so we were able to head down towards the bay and grab some lunch at the markets by the piers. A few of us found a nice little shop where I decided to grab a chilly dog. Little did I know they didn’t mess around when it came to their chilly dogs and it came fully loaded to the point where there was no way I could eat it without a knife and fork. We got to enjoy our lunch outside along with some great weather and an amazing view of the Bay Bridge. After finishing up our lunch we headed back to meet up with the group and start our long walk to Cisco. While it was kind of a journey I didn’t mind the walk as I enjoyed getting to talk with some of the group members and enjoy the view of both the city and the bay. The Cisco meeting started off with a tour of their building which seemed like an absolutely wonderful place to work. They pride themselves on giving their employees a large amount of luxuries at work to make it feel like their “second home”. They have done a pretty good job at it too as they have lots of lounge style seating along with a plethora of healthy snacks for the employees to enjoy while they are at work. There was no question that Cisco values their employees and wants to keep them happy. After walking through the office space for a bit we had a chance to sit down and talk with a few of the employees about what they like about their jobs at Cisco, the available positions, and their hiring process. When were done meeting with Cisco a bunch of the group didn’t feel up making the long walk back to the hotel so they opted to use the bus line but a few of us didn’t mind making the walk. We took a different route back to the hotel to experience a little more of the city and continued to be in awe of how amazing we found the city. After everyone got back to the hotel we changed out of our business clothes and took a little time to just hang out and relax before heading out for some dinner. Some of us utilized this time to write a blog post for our first day, unfortunately I was experiencing some technical difficulties that caused me to push it off until after dinner. A few of us, including myself, really wanted to get some Indian food while we were in the city so we set out on a search for a reasonably priced Indian restaurant. We found a pretty nice place called New Delhi. It was some of the groups first time trying Indian food but I was happy to hear they really enjoyed it as Indian is one of my favorite cuisines. The group decided they needed some desert so we headed across the street to grab some Cold Stone and then wandered around the downtown area a little more. We have a pretty early morning tomorrow, meeting at 7am to check out of the hotel, so we figured we should call it an early night and head back to the hotel, hang out some more while I casually wrote my blog post. That brings us to now as I’m finishing around 1am. Now I think I need to go pack up my stuff so I am ready to check out in the morning and head to bed. I’m really excited for the Alcatraz tour and wine tasting tomorrow before we head down to San Jose and I expect it will be another fun filled day.

Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year

I woke up today with sore feet and tired legs, but pumped to go tour our first round of companies. After a quick breakfast of Wallgreens cottage cheese and coffee from Starbucks, we headed off to Autodesk. We all decided that the city transportation would break the bank, so we walked the mile or so to the building. I must say I was completely blown away by the office space. The Autodesk gallery was ultramodern and offered up spectacular views of the bay area. Our tour guide was MTU alum Rob Fjerstad. He lead us through a multi display exhibit of all the types of companies that use Autodesk software, and how they use it. He then gave a great presentation on what Autodesk is all about, and what they have to offer collage graduates. We all asked some great questions, and even shared a few laughs about the Houghton weather. After a quick good buy we walked some more…surprise a spot to grab lunch. We ate at a flee mall type tourist attraction, and I got a pretty solid pulled pork sandwich and fries from The Meat Company. Most of us went outside to enjoy the sun and low 70s temps, while eating the in shadow of the gorgeous Bay Bridge and surrounding waterfront. We reconvened as a group and set off on foot to Cisco for the next tour. About 3 miles later most of us realized that 2 dollars to ride the city bus was a bargain. It was however great to see so many awesome views of the bay. Cisco was on the 4th floor of a very new building, and had some serious thought put into interior decoration. The front desk alone was a work of art. Once past a pair of large glass doors we meet our tour guide in one of the coolest lobbies Ive ever seen. She then showed us around the office space and it was aboslutely mind-blowing. This place had the most fun looking layout imaginable. Were talking like toys on desks, free catered lunch/snacks, and Nerf gun office wars! Everyone we talked to was smiling and so genuinely happy with their job that the feeling was contagious. These people loved were they worked, and actual thought of it as a second home. Needles to say it left me with a very good impression, and a new outlook on what it means to really like what you do. We talked with a few employes and they had nothing but good things to say about living and working and Silicon Valley. As we left Cisco most of the group was fed up with waling, and opted to take the trolly back to the hotel. However a few of us guys decided to hike it back to camp, and absorb some more of the California sun. We made it in about 30 hard earned minutes, and passed another 100 or so awesome attractions and shops. I got back to the room, and wrote the blog post for day 1. Then a few of us decided that Indian food was on the menu for dinner. We meandered around down town, and finally settled on the first place we found that was under 30 bucks a plate. I got some very spicy curry and delicious traditional bread, then we walked down the street to Coldstone for dessert. After that we made it back to the hotel and decided to retire early because the next morning starts before 7am…..

Nicholas Schweikart Mechanical Engineering, First Year

Starting our day off right with some Starbucks, we headed down to the pier to our first stop, Autodesk.  Autodesk really surprised me when I learned about the projects that their software was a part of.  They work with different movies, health care products, architecture, art, legos, and much more.  We had gotten a tour of their gallery that is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Heading into the conference room, we had stopped to get some refreshments when one of my class mates broke the faucet in their kitchen! Makes for an interesting first impression, good thing we have students that know how to fix these types of problems.  We talked about openings in their company and some of the projects Autodesk is working on at the moment.  Lunch time had finally come, the group walked down to the pier to get some grub before heading down to Cisco.  Ordering an over priced hamburger was on the menu for lunch today.  Even though the price was a bit steep, it was a spectacular hamburger with an exquisite view of the Bay View Bridge.   The sun was out, the pier was filled with people, and our talk about our experiences made our lunch very relaxing.  Cisco was the second company on our list to visit.  We ended up walking around 2.5 miles from the pier to the local headquarters.  For future reference, do not walk that distance in heels.  Take it from someone who knows what it feels like. Cisco was a very young and modern company.  Their working space was wide open with no cubicles.  They have lunch catered to them everyday with activities to entertain themselves after their lunch.  Cisco was a more informal tour that many of the students enjoyed and thought they could see themselves working there.  The day finished off with a small group of us walking around down town to find some authentic Indian cuisine.  The meal was everything we had hoped for and more.  The restaurant allowed us to take a tour of their kitchen and show us how they prepared their homemade nan bread.  We calmed our sweet tooth with a cup of Coldstones ice cream and walked around the shops in town.  Overall the day was successful and eye opening.  I thank the companies for opening their doors to us and inviting us in to learn more about them.  Tomorrow should be a fun day starting off with Alcatraz taking us to Napa Valley and ending in San Jose.  Can’t wait to see what is in store for us tomorrow!

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Silicon Valley Tour – Day 1

The 4th Annual, Silicon Valley Spring Break Tour – sponsored by Brocade Communications – began over the weekend as 15 students made their way from 277″ of snow to 65 degrees and Palm trees. Plans for the trek began back in December when nearly 100 students competed for the chance to be selected for the trip. The week-long trip is designed to be an immersive experience for the students, focusing on high-tech companies in the Bay Area of Northern California – arguably the technology hotspot of the world. Heavy-hitters Cisco, Google, Brocade, Tesla, Autodesk, and Netflix are among the corporations the group will be touring, along with unique, technology-focused trips through a fully automated winery (Porter Family,) and engineering efforts with the National Park Service on Alcatraz Island. The visits are enabled by Brocade Communications and made possible by Michigan Tech’s Silicon Valley corporate partners, and in many cases – our hard-working, well-connected alumni in the Bay Area.

We’ll be posting daily summaries all week which will include impressions from select students as well as staff and faculty participating in the activities. The student group arrived late Saturday night and got acclimated with the city all day Sunday.

Read their impressions below, and watch for the first day of corporate tours on Day 2.

Sunday started with a late breakfast that lead into a group of us walking the streets of San Francisco.  We started at Ghirardelli Square.  Walking along the pier we found an art gallery that held some of Salvador Dali’s artwork, that we toured for a time.  A few of us picked up some local street Art as souvenirs on our way down the pier. We walked in and out of small stores picking up food and browsing the souvenirs. The entertainment was a treat, and after getting some refreshments, my group decided to hop on the trolly to take a look around Chinatown. Seeing the lanterns and authentic culture of Chinatown was amazing.  This was followed by a long walk through the streets of San Francisco to the Coit Tower.  The walk took around an hour, after having to find a detour because of a commercial being filmed, the tower ended up being closed down for construction.  The view, however, was amazing.  We walked down the hill, which was much easier than the walk up, to drop a few items off in our rooms and reconnect for dinner.  A group of us ended up going down to North beach to find a little restaurant that was tucked away called Michelangelo’s Caffee. The food was made by the owner of the restaurant, as well as served by him.  The service was hospitable and quick that came with complimentary desert.  Reconvening back at the hotel, a few of the group members decided to hangout in Surbhi and my room to talk about the day that lead into a night walk around town.  Overall, the first night was a success.  Being able to get to know a few of the members of the group better was a blast.  Only time will tell what will unfold next and the adventure to come.

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan
Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Our adventure today started off with breakfast on the town. We took a city cable car down to the Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. The car operators were attraction of their own, and offered a glimpse of true San Francisco color. Once down in the tourist section of town, we split off into a few groups. My group took the opportunity to wander around the piers and attractions found along the bay. We were treated to a variety of local flare at famous places like Boudins bread shop, and Pier 39. After stopping for a scoop of some top notch ice cream, we decided to walk the city to Coit tower. We took a jaunt through China Town on the way, and I was amazed with the cultural dynamics. After about 3 miles, and what seemed like 3000 vertical feet we made it to the tower, only to find it closed for construction! The abundance of great food and tourist shops was amazing, and its fair to say my wallet was a lot lighter on the way back to the hotel. We then made our way back to the cable line and road back toward our hotel. This time we were graced with quite the character for a cable car operator, and by the time we got to the hill top my stomach hurt from laughing. I had a few minutes to call home and tell my dad how awesome the city is, and how nice it was to final have temps above 10 degrees. Just as I hung up with him we were headed out again to get dinner. I suggested Italian food, and picked the brain of the hotel doorman to find a local hot spot. He said we couldn’t go wrong with anything down in Northbeach, so we scraped together a few others and hopped on the cable car for yet another crazy ride through the hills. I cant overemphasize how breathtaking every view in the city is, and at night this is even more true. We got off the train of Union street, and made our way through the busy streets toward Little Italy. The night air was coursing with energy, and had a mood completely different from earlier in the day. We chose to go to a little hole in the wall place called Michelangelo. This place was run by two purebred Italian guys, and the food was superb, and the service downright classy. The owner even sat down and talked to us about what we were in town for, and how we liked it so far. Then in a surprise to us all he brought out Tiramisue on the house. I’m pretty sure it was out of sympathy from learning that we came from Northern Michigan! All in all my first day in the city was beyond amazing, and I cant wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Nicholas Schweikart
Mechanical Engineering, First Year

I decided to sleep in a little on Sunday morning to rest up after a long day of travel on Saturday. Shortly after waking up part of the group decided to head out towards the Fishermans Wharf. I still needed to shower and get ready for the day so I decided I would just meet up with them. After getting ready I started walking towards the Wharf and I contacted them to see where they were at. Due to a little confusion I ended up walking over to Pier 1 while they were much further north on the corner of Beach and Larkin. I decided to just keep walking north along the bay to meet up with them but I was not disappointed as there was a beautiful view of the city and lots of events happening along the way. Once I finally met up with them they were just finishing lunch and so we headed down to explore the piers. While wandering around the piers we were able to see some seals, watch some street performers, and visited some of the local shops. Then we decided to catch a trolley and head down to experience Chinatown. On the ride to Chinatown we were able to see the famous section of Lombard street. While in Chinatown we found a nice little souvenir shop that we stopped at to pick up some trinkets to bring home with us before deciding to head over to the Coit Tower. On our walk over to the Coit Tower we had the experience of seeing a street that was blocked off to shoot a BMW commercial. After our excitement over the commercial died down we continued to head towards the Coit Tower which turned out to be closed for renovations. We were quite disappointed that we made the climb up all of the hills just to find out the tower was closed but we were still able to get an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We then decided to head back to the hotel for a bit before trying to find a place to eat. A couple people in the group were craving some Italian food so we ventured up to the North Bay to try finding a good restaurant. We ended up deciding to eat at a restaurant called Michelangelo’s on the corner of Union and Columbus. The food was fantastic and affordable but the service was even better and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice Italian restaurant in the area. After finishing dinner we headed back towards the hotel but before retiring for the night we looked around for a Walgreen’s to pick up some essentials for the morning. We had some trouble finding one that was still open at 10pm on a Sunday night but we ended up finding one and then headed back to the hotel for the night to relax for a bit before heading to bed.

Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year

Kohler Etiquette Dinner Draws Enormous Crowd

February 13, 2014

Over 400 students flocked to the third straight Business and Dining Etiquette Dinner, sponsored by the Kohler Co., on Michigan Tech’s campus on a cold and snowy Thursday night. Despite Kohler’s inbound flight being cancelled, their team of over a dozen staff drove through snow and ice, and with help from on-campus Kohler Co-Op students, they delivered an exciting and informative program. Michigan Tech students from diverse majors and class years spoke with Kohler staff about their newest technologies and employment opportunities during the pre-dinner reception. The main focus of the dinner was educating students about proper business etiquette as they embark on their future careers.

Chef Rebecca Tillman, from Kohler’s world renowned resort, The American Club, spoke throughout the meal, giving tips and advice on dining etiquette during a business meal. The evening ended with a keynote speech from Kohler’s Cynthia Bachmann, Vice President of Fixtures Engineering for Kitchen and Baths Americas, Kohler’s largest and most recognized business unit. Cynthia passed on her words of advice to the large crowd and encouraged them to pursue their passions with optimism and hold nothing back.

“This event was a great opportunity for us to get a lot of one-on-one face time with the Michigan Tech students. Their active engagement in asking questions about what we do, and their desire to learn skills that will help them in their professional career, makes us proud to be #KohlerHuskies!” expressed Kohler engineer and Michigan Tech Alumni Matthew Barens. For more information on Kohler careers please visit

Overall, the evening provided students a look into the world of a great company and provided another professional development opportunity for their long careers. The Etiquette Dinner is a part of the Michigan Tech Career Services Career Development Education events series. For information on ways to get involved in Career Services events and opportunities to engage more closely with students, please visit

Kimberly-Clark Hosts Michigan Tech Students

Nineteen students from Michigan Tech spent a day in Neenah, Wisconsin touring Kimberly-Clark facilities, meeting with company representatives and alumni, and learning about careers with Kimberly-Clark.  The students included members of Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers collegiate section and other professional university organizations.

For many students, the trip gave students a better understanding of what their future will be after graduation.  Erin Richie, a first-year student explains, “It was a really good opportunity for me to see what industry can be like and gave me an idea of what I want to do when I graduate.”  Jeanette Kussow added, “The Kimberly-Clark visit was a great experience.  From it, I was able to visualize myself working there in the future, and how I can get there from where I am today.”

Cassie Bobart, who’ll be a co-op with Kimberly-Clark this summer, found the trip reassuring. “It was a lot of fun to meet and interact with people who are not only successful engineers but also Michigan Tech alumni. Having that connection with these engineers not only made it much easier for me to connect with the employees but also made working in the real world seem more tangible and exciting. The idea of being outside in the real world can often feel overwhelming and unreachable but meeting such friendly Kimberly-Clark staff was really reassuring and helpful. All my questions were answered and I am not only more knowledgeable but more confident and comfortable talking to these engineers because experiences like this make you realize that you actually have a lot in common with them. The tours were extremely interesting and got me excited for the future. I can definitely see myself working in facilities like those we visited at Kimberly-Clark.”

Kimberly-Clark is well known for their personal and family care product brands – Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, Poise, Pull-ups and Depends, and their growing leadership in the Health Care and Professional Products markets.

General Motors donates $100,000 to Michigan Tech

General Motors donates $100K to Michigan Tech
The General Motors Foundation, a long-time supporter of Michigan Tech, presented a $100,000 check to the University today at the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC.)
The grant will fund a variety of student activities. Among them are the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, Environmental Engineering senior design, student groups and diversity programs.

Photo left -> right: Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s director, real estate and facilities operations, Bob Page, Tyler Sierakowski, Rebecca Farrer, John Lukowski, Michael Carey, Glenn Mroz

—- Press Release —-

The General Motors Foundation has given Michigan Tech a $100,000 grant through its University Partner Program. The gift will support a variety of student activities, including the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, environmental engineering senior design projects, student groups and diversity programs.
Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s global facilities director of operations North America, presented a check to President Glenn Mroz at a ceremony on Oct. 24, at the Great Lakes Research Center.

“The GM Foundation grant presented today is symbolic of our dedication to the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Tomaszewski. “By supporting higher education programs, we’re ensuring these students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in a global marketplace.”

This year, the GM Foundation will award grants totaling $2.9 million to support leading universities and partnering organizations across the country this year through its University Partner Program. The initiative provides funding to advance secondary education curricula in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, information technology and other fields important to the automotive industry.

“We appreciate GM’s continued support for Michigan Tech’s students. The variety of programs the GM Foundation grant supports will gives students the chance to work on developing the technologies that will be important to Michigan’s economy far into the future,” said Mroz.

“This funding from the GM Foundation comes at the perfect time, as the students are making the final push this academic year to achieve their goal of having a fully-functioning hybrid electric vehicle, showcasing the capabilities of Michigan Tech and the students on the HEV Enterprise,” said Bob Page, Michigan Tech laboratory facilities manager/HEV Enterprise advisor.

Michigan Tech and General Motors have had a long-standing partnership dating back to at least 1940. Since that time, General Motors and the GM Foundation have provided more than $12.1 million to support a wide range of activities across campus including scholarships, capital projects, Senior Design and Enterprise programs, student organizations, sponsored research, recruiting support, youth programs, diversity initiatives, and more.

The General Motors Foundation has given Michigan Tech a $100,000 grant through its University Partner Program. The gift will support a variety of student activities, including the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, environmental engineering senior design projects, student groups and diversity programs.

Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s global facilities director of operations North America, presented a check to President Glenn Mroz at a ceremony on Oct. 24, at the Great Lakes Research Center.
“The GM Foundation grant presented today is symbolic of our dedication to the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Tomaszewski. “By supporting higher education programs, we’re ensuring these students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in a global marketplace.”

This year, the GM Foundation will award grants totaling $2.9 million to support leading universities and partnering organizations across the country this year through its University Partner Program. The initiative provides funding to advance secondary education curricula in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, information technology and other fields important to the automotive industry.

“We appreciate GM’s continued support for Michigan Tech’s students. The variety of programs the GM Foundation grant supports will gives students the chance to work on developing the technologies that will be important to Michigan’s economy far into the future,” said Mroz.
“This funding from the GM Foundation comes at the perfect time, as the students are making the final push this academic year to achieve their goal of having a fully-functioning hybrid electric vehicle, showcasing the capabilities of Michigan Tech and the students on the HEV Enterprise,” said Bob Page, Michigan Tech laboratory facilities manager/HEV Enterprise advisor.

Michigan Tech and General Motors have had a long-standing partnership dating back to at least 1940. Since that time, General Motors and the GM Foundation have provided more than $12.1 million to support a wide range of activities across campus including scholarships, capital projects, Senior Design and Enterprise programs, student organizations, sponsored research, recruiting support, youth programs, diversity initiatives, and more.

How to entertain 300 companies

The job fairs at Michigan Tech regularly bring in companies by the hundreds; many hundreds. This Fall’s fair was no exception, and Michigan Tech’s Corporate Partnerships group teamed up again with the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation Smart Zone (MTEC SmartZone) to host recruiters, staff, and faculty at the Keweenaw Brewing Company. It’s tough to find time to connect everyone in a social setting with the pressure of the job fair and a full week of interview slots to fill, but beer and pizza seem to always motivate. Over 200 joined together in downtown Houghton to talk shop, and casually mingle before the busyness of the rest of the week hit. The MTEC SmartZone is a generous and natural fit for hosting this event. Their mission is to accelerate and foster high-tech business growth – focusing specifically on driving Michigan’s innovation leadership and economic growth with sustainable opportunities for companies and their employees to prosper in incubators and offices in any of three sites in the local Houghton area. The SmartZone even started the next morning at 6:30 with a hosted breakfast and a tour of their business spaces.

Learn more about what the MTEC SmartZone is doing for businesses.

And learn more about how to connect with Career Services.

Steel Day at Michigan Tech – Oct 15

Students from all majors will get a chance to learn about career opportunities in the steel industry on Tuesday, Oct. 15, during Michigan Tech’s first annual Steel Day. Major players in steel such as Gerdau, Nucor, Cliffs and ArcelorMittal will be interacting with students in a fun and informational setting.

The day will start with a cookout on the Dow Patio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when students can visit interactive displays set up in the Dow Atrium. At 6:30 p.m., a panel of industry experts will answer questions and talk with students in the Memorial Union Ballroom A. Later that evening, over $1,500 in prizes will be raffled off to participants.

To increase awareness of the steel industry, Michigan Tech’s materials science and engineering department, Advanced Metalworks Enterprise and student professional society Materials United are working with Career Services to organize and publicize this event.

Steel Day is meant to engage all students who might be interested in pursuing a career in this vital industry. Company representatives are hoping to build personal relationships with first-and second-year engineering students in an effort to promote careers within the industry.

Dow Company Great Lakes Bay Science and Engineering Festival

The Dow Chemical Company has taken the lead as naming sponsor of the Dow Chemical Company Great Lakes Bay Science & Engineering Festival at Delta College Oct. 4-5. The festival, hosted by Michigan Technological University and Delta College on the Delta College campus, will feature the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers and the American Chemical Society Midland Section’s SciFest, performing their hands-on science shows.

The free two-day festival is designed to get children, adolescents and their families excited about science and engineering by engaging them in hands-on activities. Its ultimate goal is to attract more bright students into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies and careers.

On Friday, Oct. 4, the festival will host 4,000 middle school students from Midland, Bay City and Saginaw area schools. On Saturday, Oct. 5, it will be open to the public.

“STEM literacy has a profound and growing impact on our day-to-day lives. It helps us make critical decisions, and it reveals the power of the world we inhabit,” said Rob Vallentine, director, North America geographic site public affairs, and global director, STEM education at The Dow Chemical Company. “We believe engaging, hands-on learning opportunities are critical for building, supporting and growing the STEM pipeline. The Science and Engineering Festival is a great example of this model.”

Other major sponsors so far include Denso International America Inc., Nexteer Automotive, CMS Energy and the Dow Corning Foundation Donor Advised Funds awarded by the Midland Area Community Foundation, Saginaw Community Foundation and Bay Area Community Foundation.

Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers undergraduate and graduate student volunteers conduct high-energy, sometimes startling demonstrations and activities involving the young people who come to their performances. Science and engineering are anything but dull when you can make—and eat—liquid nitrogen ice cream, shoot a ping pong ball through a soda can using nothing more powerful than air or walk on (and sink in) a sticky liquid-solid called ooblek.

Mind Trekkers has brought the “Wow!” of STEM to hundreds of thousands of young people all over the country since the traveling science show was established in 2010. Partnering with the USA Science & Engineering Festival, Mind Trekkers will take its performance to the nation’s capital in April 2014.

ACS Midland’s SciFest also brings hands-on science to curious people of all ages, with exhibits, activities and performances. The Midland Local Section of ACS won a ChemLuminary award from the national ACS for SciFest in 2011.

Michigan Tech and Delta College are inviting other organizations and corporations interested in science, engineering and STEM education to participate in the Great Lakes Bay Science & Engineering Festival. Email Steve Patchin at Michigan Tech for more information at