Tech Events

Tech Trek: How Trick or Treating for Geeks Turned to 6,000 People and a 10-Day Journey Through Future Tech

“I’m having so much fun,” a boy tells his mom. We’re on Liberty, and the green Tech Trek backpacks are so ubiquitous that an extra 500 people registered on site to visit the local tech companies who opened their doors around downtown Ann Arbor for Tech Trek for a total of 2101 attendees. Kids and job seekers abound for this event that started just 5 years ago and now has ballooned to 10 days of tech-related conferences and events. We sit here at the hackathon check-in not sure what just happened. Eight conferences in a week. Thousands of followup interviews to pursue. All in Ann Arbor. Except some of these people were visiting from South Korea this week for tech summits, Belgium, Montreal, Paris, Italy, Silicon Valley–to hear the speakers, yes, but often to open their own offices in Ann Arbor to get in on the tech growth, engineering expertise, and collaborative startup culture growing here year over year.

Nearly 4,000 people registered this year for Tech Trek, down from the 6,000 registered last year but only 200 off the number who actually attended. Cronicle Press had a table in the First National Building, where we were well fed with Dominoes pizza and beer from a local brewery. But we barely manned the table. The real action was over on Mobility Row where Toyota, Honda, Quantum Signal, May Mobility, Voxel51 and many more had self-driving and car-sharing tech on display. And the drones on Liberty, the saxophonist who set up, were the icing on the cake. Besides the man with the fabulous mustache. We hardly had time to go beyond SPARK Central on Liberty and visit a few streets of booths. This year’s event was massive, spread all over downtown. Our complaints about Ann Arbor tech not being visible are waning fast.

Tech Trek, a2tech360, Ann Arbor tech events
“We test a lot of our self-driving tech virtually,” says Quantum Signal, “because it’s a lot cheaper to crash a computer than a car.”

Companies like DocNetwork and Human Element were hiring, as are countless others. We can’t list them all, so we recommend if you’re looking for work in Ann Arbor tech, you visit the Ann Arbor SPARK a2tech360 page to look at sponsors at least, to see who was around this week. We met Michael Ploof of Tinker Tech from Ypsi, where they do maker events. Web designers, entrepreneurs out seeing what everyone else in town was doing. For now, we leave you with a short photo gallery of the afternoon’s events. But like many other tech week events, we wanted to go behind the scenes where people can’t get tickets, don’t have time, or won’t be able to connect at a more comfortable pace with the people of Ann Arbor tech to hear what they’re really about. We will be following up with hundreds of tech folks from Tech Trek just like the other folks we met at other events this week, so the real story is what comes out of tech week: hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews. Thanks for a great week, Ann Arbor tech. We’re at the hackathon, and we have to go.

June 8, 2019

About Author

laurakcowan Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets. A deep study of narrative journalism, storytelling and sustainable technology allows Ms. Cowan to draw out the meaningful stories of best practices from diverse professionals in an exploration of the culture and trends in emerging industries. She is currently Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Midwest tech news blog Cronicle Press. Ms. Cowan’s writing and speaking have appeared with Automobile Quarterly, Writer Unboxed, Inhabitat, CNBC, The Ann Arbor Observer, and The National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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