Ann Arbor is a great place to raise kids, and a great place to found a new tech company, but it’s not often you can do both at once! Wild Swan Theater in Ann Arbor is celebrating the launch of their new production Coding To The Moon: Margaret Hamilton and the Apollo Missions, with a pre-party at Circ Bar February 5th. This production is a great family event, appropriate for anyone 9 years old and up, and will run March 4th through 7th in Ann Arbor. If you would like a preview, join The Wild Swan Theater a month before the play comes to the stage for a $20 ticket.
It’s New Years Eve, so we’re looking back at the most popular posts on Cronicle Press Tech News out of Ann Arbor-Detroit about the growing Great Lakes tech scene in 2019. Turns out, it was a banner year for Ann Arbor tech and Detroit startups in particular, so we just scratched the surface of all the latest news. First up, the most popular post by far, professor Austin Yarger’s master list of game development studios of Michigan. Also included at the end are some followup interviews with a few of those gaming studios that are either growing in Michigan or started here.
This last week, we made it out to Professor Yarger’s student video game showcase in Ann Arbor, which highlights games from University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan students. Games ranged from multi-player space pirates Space Subterfuge to a game call I’m a Chopstick, where two chopsticks attempt to get dinner to the table. (“We are not responsible for any relationship troubles that arise due to gameplay!” the creators warn in their trailer.) If you couldn’t make it out to the expo, you can still check out the trailers from games including Light’s Out, Apotheosis, I’m a Chopstick, and others below. There were well over a dozen games on hand, many of them extremely cute or fun to play.
Hands down, our most popular posts in Cronicle’s first 6 months have been the feature on indie game design studios in Michigan from University of Michigan professor Austin Yarger, plus all the followup interviews of game designers from Finji Games to Heart Shaped Games to Dreaming Door. We caught up with Yarger again recently to ask when his popular student gaming showcase was taking place. Turns out, we were just in time.
“I began working at Menlo Innovations in February 2018 as a Software Developer, though recently I’ve shifted to Quality Advocate (QA) as my main role,” says Kyler Wilkins, or Ki5 as he’s known in the local music scene. Kyler is a hip hop artist, beatboxer, singer/songwriter, and looping artist. His music sounds like a combo between hiphop and EDM, and he’s good. He does a lot of covers, but the music he put together on the night we saw him in Ann Arbor was original, complex, and intriguing. He’s been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered, and says it was a natural progression for him to step up in his role at Menlo, which is now famous for its founders “joy-based” software and culture design process for engaging work environments, to combine tech and music.
MVCA’s Executive Director Ara Topouzian Balances Economic Development with Award-Winning “Side Hobby” in Armenian Music
We met him at the TechCity Jam early this fall. The local jam session for tech workers who have music careers or hobbies on the side included everything from pop songs to electronica to incredible traditional Armenian music. We wanted to know who was playing in this award-winning band that came seemingly out of nowhere to the stage and played a brilliant set that would be inadequate to just call foot-tapping. Ara Topouzian, pictured right above, plays the qanun (kanoon), an Armenian 80-string harp that goes back to the 5th century and is still played today. The music sounds traditional, and yet it’s still extremely catchy.
216 W. Michigan Ave. Michael Ploof of Tinkertech in downtown Ypsi, right across from SPARK East headquarters, has a unique space. Sewing machines line the room that looks out of a storefront on the main drag packed with antique tin-ceiling shops. Events here at Tinkertech focus on everything from Arduino controller programming for automatic garden watering to 3D printing and laser cutting to electronics.
BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole On The Tech Financing Process, Tech City Jam Friday
When new businesses start up, arranging financing can be fraught. When that process involves a bank loan, it’s hard to know where to go. Many banks have a reputation for turning away small or risky tech startup businesses. Good news for tech businesses in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. Bank of Ann Arbor, which according to DBusiness is now the 4th largest bank in Metro Detroit, has created an entire division specifically for financing and guiding tech businesses in the growing startup hub. BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole says this has been a long time in process. Cole has been working for the past 17 years to create business financing options specifically tailored to tech and life sciences businesses in Southeast Michigan.
Starting today, Friday September 20th at 4:00 pm and running through Sunday September 22 4:00 PM, the Into the Dataverse hackathon in Ann Arbor will explore AI-enabled user interfaces “that can intuitively capture both structured and non-structured maintenance data, and associated maintainer actions, in an efficient and user-friendly manner to produce more accurate maintenance logs.” You still have time to get involved by signing up through Eventbrite at the link below. It’s free to register, and food and snacks are provided through the weekend. Here are more details from the event website.
Stop what you’re doing and check out this list of Detroit-made podcasts. Included in that list: IT in the D, a podcast by “The Geek” Dave Phillips and “The Sales Guy” Bob Waltenspiel, is all about tech in the Motor City. (Also check out Motor City Geek, and even classes to create your own podcast based in Detroit and Royal Oak.) We caught up with IT in the D co-founder Bob Waltenspiel to ask about how IT in the D got to be a popular local podcast about and for Detroit tech.