Ann Arbor's Tech Trek to offer open houses, Tech Talks, autonomous vehicles in the streets


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
Today’s brightest tech minds can look forward to finding exciting careers right in the epicenter of mobility innovation, because Ann Arbor is a bubbling mini-hub of technology. To prove that point, on June 15, Ann Arbor Spark will host its third annual Tech Trek, a day-long event to showcase the coolest tech businesses in town.

A Friday in mid-June, in one of the most walkable cities in southeast Michigan. What’s not to like?

“Everyone loves Tech Trek,” says Komal Doshi, director of mobility programs at economic development and innovation organization Ann Arbor SPARK. “It’s a roaring success. Seventy companies participated last year, and 4,000 people attended.”

Not designed solely for kids, yet cleverly scheduled to coincide with the last day of the Ann Arbor public school year, Tech Trek is a fun event for middle school and high school students to explore the many avenues of tech innovation, and add a dose of real world to their classroom STEM learning. Students should come away with the overall impression that technology crosses all job sectors, products, and services.

“Last year, attendees created photo opportunities and tagged themselves. There’s definitely a lot of excitement around it,” says Doshi. “People will also see how rich downtown Ann Arbor is in terms of amenities and activities.”

A more subtle benefit of Tech Trek is the opportunity to see Detroit and southeast Michigan as a leader in innovation that is advancing the rapid change in transportation and mobility solutions.

Participants this year can look forward to a specially-curated schedule of events, as organizers have rolled Tech Trek under a larger umbrella they’re calling A2 Tech 360, which comprises several days of events, including Meeting of the Minds, a thought leadership mobility summit held on June 14.

Here is what’s on tap for Tech Trek:

Tech Talk

This is a TED Talk-like event that will be held at the Michigan Theater. About a dozen thought leaders from companies such as Duo Security, Expedia, Pillar Technology, Barracuda, and Domino’s Pizza will offer seven-minute presentations that promise to be impactful. “This won’t just be about tech, but how these people and their companies are making a difference, and how they are improving lives and benefiting the community,” says Doshi. Check in is at 9 a.m., and talks run from 10 a.m. to noon. Register here.

Tech leaders will speak at Tech Talk at the Michigan Theater.
Tech Trek

Participating tech companies will open their doors to share an insider’s look at the work they do. Students, tech enthusiasts, job seekers, and everyone else will learn about the innovation fueling the tech economy locally and making a mark on the a variety of industries across the globe. Event runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Registration is required.

Washington Street between Division and Fifth will become Mobility Row and will feature innovators in mobility technology, including Ford, Toyota, Chariot, and Maven, and first-response drone company AutonomousSafety. “This will be a real mixed bag of offerings, but will be a great way to experience innovative partnerships,” says Doshi. “The automotive industry is often just seen as manufacturing. But by experiencing Mobility Row, and seeing all the startups working with the OEMs, we begin to recognize that mobility as a whole is changing.”

An education-focused area, called Talent Terrace, will feature colleges and universities, like Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University, to highlight their unique STEM programs and show future students that they can pursue tech- and STEM-based study right here in southeast Michigan.


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