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