Category Archives: Alumni News

Tech Forward: A Campus Conversation with Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Innovators and entrepreneurs from across the country will gather at Michigan Tech to share their views about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and discuss how they think it will change our work, communities, organizations, and economy. They also will share how they best believe Michigan Tech can prepare graduates to lead and be successful in this era.

A panel discussion with these leaders will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 16 at the Rozsa Center. This is the fourth conversation in the Tech Forward series as innovators and entrepreneurs come to campus to share their insights on the disruptive forces driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Innovation is rapidly changing the world around us. As such, the university must be cognizant of the disruptive forces that will revolutionize how we educate students and then plan accordingly.” said Rick Koubek, President. “As we map out the future of Michigan Tech, we are honored to host such an esteemed panel of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders to help inform and guide us through this process.”

The speakers are Michigan Tech alumni who are part of the 14 Floors program, which focuses on fostering entrepreneurism and high-tech innovation in the context of global culture and economy. Fourteen Floors is designed to be—an infinitely expandable structure analogous to the floors of a building, with something different happening on every floor, providing virtual suites of experiences for Huskies that connect them to innovators, entrepreneurs, mentors, and potential employers. The 14 Floors program also includes bi-annual visits to campus by alumni and week-long immersive student trips to places like Silicon Valley.

“Companies, people and communities all need dramatically different skills and capabilities to succeed in the 4.0 world,” says Jim Fish ’90, who is an innovation consultant, and technology evangelist with roles at Wayne State University, New Hammer LLC, Lemur, and Innovatrium. “The changes required are increasing and accelerating. The lifespan of a public company continues to shrink as 4.0 technology enables disruption at unprecedented speeds. At Michigan Tech, we’ve succeeded by changing; the Quincy Mine is an inspiring monument to our successful adaptation of the past–and we are now faced with another opportunity to embrace our best days that lie ahead.”

Dave House ’65, who worked at Intel for 23 years, retiring as a senior vice president and general manager, said the change we are seeing is happening globally, regionally, locally and personally.

“It will impact everyone,” he says. “Michigan, the UP, the Copper Country, Houghton, each family and each individual will feel this impact. There is no question that Michigan’s largest and most important industry—the automotive industry, is facing disruption—from Tesla, Google, Apple, Uber, etc. Those we see lead the change are rewarded; those who don’t are at serious risk. There is an opportunity for the city, county, and state in which we live. Michigan Tech needs to lead this change.”

David Shull ’15, an entrepreneur and Handshake university partnerships team lead, says technology will change everything from the nature of our work to how we move. “Self-driving cars will let students go to sleep in lower Michigan and wake up on Michigan Tech’s campus. The next generation of Tech students will never know the eight hour drive I loved to hate during my time there.”

“Automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are poised to challenge every industry and job function,” Shull says. “Michigan Tech, with its student talent and history in preparing students for industry, is uniquely positioned to define the model of how higher education prepares students for the industrial revolution we’re already in.”

Innovator and Entrepreneur Speakers for October 16 event

  • Jim Fish ’90 is an innovation consultant, and technology evangelist with roles at Wayne State Univ, New Hammer LLC, Lemur, and Innovatrium.
  • Paul Fulton ’84 is a visionary entrepreneur and CEO – currently leading Nwave, a smart-parking pioneer. Formerly with startups Zentri and Cloudsona, Fulton was also an executive who has worked at Cisco, HP, and 3Com.
  • Dave House ’65 worked at Intel for 23 years, retiring as a senior vice president and general manager, before leading Bay Networks, Nortel, and Allegro – then eventually becoming the chairman of the board for Brocade Communications.
  • Nicholas Lumsden ’02 is the vice president for product strategy and technology at Online Tech and focuses on hybrid cloud management products and services.
  • Kanwal Rekhi ’69 has a passion to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. He co-founded Inventus Capital Partners to build a leading Indo-US venture franchise.
  • John Rockwell ’79 is a venture capitalist and consultant and has served as the leader of five technology companies. He is currently CEO of Accelergy Corporation.
  • John Soyring ’76 ’06 worked for 36 years for IBM and was involved in business leadership for the company during that time. He currently is the owner of Sisukas Consulting LLC.

The 14 Floors Campus Visit is a mini-conference set of activities on Michigan Tech’s campus in the spring and fall semesters. The visit is comprised primarily of Michigan Tech alumni who have leadership positions in, and rich history with high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship. Currently led by Dave House ’65, the group spends nearly four days on campus helping lead discussions, mentor students and faculty, and participate in a variety of activities following 14 Floors’ two primary tracks; entrepreneurship and high-tech innovation. These activities include:

  • campus and community networking events
  • broad-topic discussions with centers and programs
  • focused, topical lectures to the campus community
  • entrepreneurial business plan pitch events
  • one-on-one sessions with campus leadership
  • undergraduate, capstone and enterprise project judging
    • advisory board meetings

The fall visit takes place October 16 to 18. Michigan Tech will host more than a dozen innovators and entrepreneurs from California’s Bay Area and southeast Michigan. Notable activities during their stay will be a Tech Forward discussion at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 16 in the Rozsa where some of the group will share their insights on the disruptive forces driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The group also will be key to the Idea Pitch Competition at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 17 in M&M, Room U113. Students will have two minutes to pitch their favorite innovative and disruptive idea in an interactive community setting.