MICHauto Student Forum Offers Glimpse of Exciting, In-Demand Careers

By Daniel A. Washington 

Helping to debunk common myths about the auto and mobility industry, MICHauto, in partnership with Ford Motor Co., Oakland University and Planet M, hosted its “Opportunity Auto.Mobility” student career forum on Feb. 16 that included a keynote and networking reception for more than 70 students. The event aims to better engage prospective talent with auto industry experts and employers.

“Auto manufacturers are looking for people who will bring a fresh perspective to the table,” said Jessica Robinson, director of city solutions (Ford Smart Mobility) for Ford, during her keynote address.

Robinson shared her journey leading up to her current role at Ford that included stops at Zipcar, one of the first ride-sharing companies in Detroit, and startup accelerator Techstars.

Robinson reiterated that in today’s industry, anyone with an interest can find a niche for their skills to thrive.

“Starting my career with Zipcar helped me understand the number of opportunities the auto industry can provide,” said Robinson.  “Who would have ever thought an anthropology major would work in the auto and mobility space?”

In addition, a panel of former Oakland students who currently work in the automotive industry discussed the possibilities of international travel, positive work culture and upward career mobility that their jobs offer.

“The autonomous tech space is exploding right now and is offering a number of opportunities to those in a number of fields to work and thrive in a creative and innovative way,” said Robinson.

The panel was moderated by MICHauto’s Rob Luce and included panelists: Mike Dudek, manager of commodity purchasing for Faurecia North America Inc.; Samantha Roberts, communications co-op for Yazaki North America Inc.; Elise Smith, manager of human resources and business partner for American Axle & Manufacturing Inc.; and Cassandra Traynor, manager of human resources for Brose North America Inc.

Following the presentations, students discussed employment opportunities with 16 auto-related companies at the networking reception. Companies in attendance represented a number of counties across the region showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of the industry.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Tech Startup Lessons from Israel: Entrepreneurs Thrive with Collaboration, Government Support

A robust talent pipeline. Government support for startups. Strong academic and STEM education programs. No fear of failure. These are just a few of the key ingredients that contribute to Israel’s status as a top five global technology startup hub.

In an effort to better understand the Israeli ecosystem of innovation, the Detroit Regional Chamber recently attended a five-day, fact-finding mission to the country led by Deloitte and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. It was held concurrently during Gov. Rick Snyder’s Israel trip to enhance business ties with Michigan.

The delegation included chief information technology officers and executives from AT&TConsumers EnergyGeneral Motors, Henry Ford Health System, and nine additional organizations across the state.

During the week, the delegation met with key decision-makers from 12 leading technology startups and attended the 2017 CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv to hear from cyber experts from multi-national corporations, startups, private and corporate investors, and venture capital firms. Gov. Snyder provided opening remarks at the Conference (pictured).

The group also met with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist, and received an up-close look at AT&T’s latest innovation center in Raanana, GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Tel Aviv, and Israel’s Startup Nation Central, a nonprofit focused on getting innovation in front of leading companies around the world.

Other stops included meetings with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Talpiot Program, an elite training program for students who excel in science and technology; and CYBERBIT, a global leader in cybersecurity and intelligence.

Building Relationships to Maintain Michigan’s Mobility Leadership

In sheer size comparison, Michigan is 11 times larger than the entire country of Israel. Despite that, estimates put Israel’s startup companies at nearly 1,000 in a given year.

Driving this entrepreneurial boom is a combination of Israel’s mandated military service and the resulting talent development, and robust seed funding from the government and venture capital firms for startups.

Public and private collaboration, along with a dedicated source of government funding, is an area where Detroit and Michigan can draw lessons.

“With more than 90,000 engineers, Detroit is also an innovation center with a similar ecosystem. But where our companies are built to drive innovation internally to meet the needs of their own customers, Israel is more externally focused,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber.

“The trick is, how do we take our innovation culture and flip it around to encourage more collaboration and information sharing, especially as we look to be a leader in solving issues around global mobility moving forward?” Robinson added.

He said one thing is clear:

“Israel is a market Michigan must have a close relationship with not only because of the volume, but also the quality of innovation taking place. They have a culture that asks partners, ‘bring us your problems’ – and there are no shortage of challenges in delivering autonomous driving to the world,” he said.

“The Chamber and MICHauto are committed to further enhancing the connections between our established automotive industry and venture capital community with the technology ecosystem in Israel. Doing so will be a win-win for both of our communities,” Robinson added.

For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at jrobinson@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0352.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at mhamilton@detroitchamber.com, or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

MICHauto Convenes Industry Experts, Educators to Share Insight on State’s Talent Challenges

MICHauto hosted 55 automotive industry experts and regional educators Wednesday to discuss the status of Michigan’s automotive industry and next-generation talent needs. The event kicked off with four presentations focusing on the state’s talent pipeline and the convergence of technology and mobility. Presenters provided startling facts regarding mobility, manufacturing and the growing talent gap:

  • Every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 new jobs in local goods or services
  • “Software developer” was the top manufacturing job posting from 2010 through 2015
  • Michigan is responsible for 80 percent of the nation’s automotive research and development
  • 65 percent of children entering kindergarten today will work in jobs that are not yet defined

Following the presentations, Square One Education Network Chief Technology Officer Michael Tucker moderated a town hall discussion that explored key issues regarding the growing talent shortage in Michigan’s automotive sector and ways in which local industry leaders can collaborate with educators to promote exciting, well-paying careers in the automotive and mobility field.

Techstars Alumni: Detroit is Built for Entrepreneurs

Detroit is the place to be for aspiring entrepreneurs. That was the message a panel of three Techstars alumni emphasized during a candid discussion about their experience participating in the three-month startup accelerator program. The panel was part of a week of programming at the North American International Auto Show’s new Automobili-D exhibit.

“The media doesn’t do a good job telling Detroit’s story. I fell in love with the city immediately and I know others did, too,” said Rohith Varanasi, co-founder of the cell phone startup, Lunar.

Varanasi was joined on stage by Chris Bailey, CEO and co-founder of Revio; and Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta. All three alumni credited their experience with Techstars with invaluable connections to investors, industry mentors and training.

“Learning how to interact with investors and walking us through step-by-step on how to grow our business was very helpful,” Bailey said.

Revio offers cutting-edge safety and security products for the power sports industry, while Acerta focuses on machine-assisted anomaly detection and root cause analysis.

When asked by an audience member whether the startups have become profitable since exiting the Techstars program, all three alumni expressed affirmation for the coming year.

“We’re still growing,” Cutulenco said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Techstars helping us make connections.”

For more information on Techstars, visit www.techstars.com.

Maven’s Julia Steyn: Technology is ‘Enabler’ for Michigan’s Mobility Future

Closing out programming for this year’s Automobili-D exhibit at the North American International Show, Daniel Howes, columnist for The Detroit News, sat down with Julia Steyn, General Motors’ vice president of urban mobility and Maven, to discuss car-sharing and the future of mobility in Michigan.

“(Mobility) technology keeps moving forward, so you can either look at it as a disruptor or enabler,” said Steyn about the forthcoming challenges facing the automotive industry with the increase of autonomous technology and mobility-sharing platforms. “I prefer to see it as an enabler while continuing to innovate.”

Steyn also spoke on GM’s leadership in car-sharing and mobility as a service during panel discussions earlier in the week. Read the Detroiter’s in-depth interview with Steyn about Detroit and GM’s long-term mobility vision here.

Legal Experts: Liability, Privacy and Cybersecurity Challenges Ahead for Autonomous Technology Adoption

As more automated and driverless technologies are brought to market, questions regarding liability, privacy, data management and cybersecurity could present myriad legal challenges for automakers and suppliers in the not-so-distant future. That was a key message legal experts stressed in a candid conversation on “rights and regulations” on the Automobili-D stage at the North American International Auto Show on Thursday.

Kicking off the discussion, Patrick Seyferth, partner at Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC, cautioned that the use of loaded language, specifically promoting autonomous vehicles as “saving lives,” should be used sparingly. Citing examples like the death of a Tesla autopilot driver, Seyferth said there is a common misperception that autonomous vehicles will totally eliminate human error and reduce accidents from texting, drunkenness, and other forms of distracted driving. In reality, according to Seyferth, automated vehicles shift human error from the driving to the programming and design.

“I’m not suggesting that autonomous technology is bad, I just think we need to pay a little more attention to what safety advocates are saying,” he said.

Tom Manganello, partner at Warner Norcross & Judd, disagreed with Seyferth’s analysis of safety, stating autonomous tech will be a key catalyst to improving safety on roadways across the world.

“Fatalities have gone up 6,000 per year at a time when cars are the safest they’ve ever been from a passive protection standpoint. So what’s the problem? The problem is people. Will automated vehicle technology prevent all deaths? No. What we will see is a rapid reduction in serious injuries and deaths the more the driver can be taken out of the system,” he said.

Discussion also focused on cybersecurity risk and data protection.

“When you think connectivity, you have to look at your vulnerabilities,” said Jennifer Dukarski, attorney with Butzel Long. “Imagine a nefarious person being able to hack a fleet of police vehicles to learn their exact location.”

Despite the challenges, Dukarski said Michigan is well-positioned to lead in the testing and development of connected and autonomous vehicles with the passage of the Safe Autonomous Vehicles (SAVE) Act.

The panel was moderated by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto.

As New Technology Emerges, Michigan Can Lead Automotive Revolution

As new technology comes to market, Michigan must not take anything for granted to lead in the race for the connected and autonomous vehicle.

“Technology can transform the auto industry and save thousands of lives,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto.  “The opportunities are endless.”

Stevens led a panel of automotive experts on a discussion focused on connectivity and opportunity during Automobili-D at the North American International Auto Show on Wednesday. Panelists shared their own predictions of the future.

“It’s not only about bringing technology inside the car, but it’s also about connecting that technology to the world around you – using all the data points already collected to work together,” said Peter Brown, chief automotive architect for Wind River.

“Imagine getting in your car and not only having the latest technology to get you from point A to point B, with the quickest and easiest route, but using all the data points to have your parking spot available and already paid for before you get there – in one step,” Brown added.

Panelists agreed that future opportunities will come in four waves: the car, the driver, the road and the city. How can technology be used to make the quality of the car better, increase the convenience of the driver, make the roads safer and help the city with its overall efficiency?

“How we connect the sources of data and how and when to use them is both the opportunity and the challenge,” said Andrew Hart, director of automotive consultancy firm SBD.

Other challenges discussed were concerns about privacy and security. With car-sharing and ride-sharing options becoming more prevalent, cities such as Detroit will also have to consider the challenges of losing revenue in parking fees, traffic tickets and even the decline of car and health insurance costs.

“Developing the technology is indeed an opportunity, but connecting it to the rest of the world takes it to the next level,” Brown said.

German Auto Supplier ZF Announces Expansion, 800 New Jobs

German automotive supplier ZF is giving Michigan a strong vote of confidence with plans to grow its product offerings and create 800 new jobs. The news was announced during a press conference with company CEO Stefan Sommer at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on Tuesday.

Sommer said the new jobs come at a time when ZF is increasingly moving from a traditional brake and chassis supplier into an autonomous tech innovator.

Noting that the automotive industry is in the midst of a revolution in product, processes and production, Sommer highlighted ZF’s work in artificial intelligence through a joint venture with NVDIA, as well as the company’s innovative concept vehicle, Oasis.

The two-seat electric vehicle was created as part of a partnership with Rinspeed, a Swiss design and engineering firm. Oasis includes a twin-motor battery and ZF’s patented intelligent rolling chassis. Oasis is also equipped with an electro-mechanical steering system and dual control arm independent suspension on the front axle, which provides the vehicle with a 75-degree turning radius, ideal for maneuvering in tight spaces.

Guided by the principal of “See. Think. Act.,” Sommer said ZF is “well prepared to master digitization of the future” while adding that several disruptive factors will shape the future of ZF in the next decade, including autonomous driving, and increased efficiency and safety regulations.

Mobility initiative aims to match state auto business, Silicon Valley

Crain’s Detroit Business 

By Dustin Walsh 

January 8, 2017

The state’s Planet M mobility initiative is aiming to play matchmaker between companies in Michigan and Silicon Valley.

Planet M, a branding partnership between the state and local economic development firms, businesses and colleges, plans to identify and solve the manufacturing, testing and customer gaps faced by Silicon Valley’s tech industry players focused on transportation and mobility.

Mass production, particularly of automobiles and automobile technology, has proven difficult for California companies. Apple Inc. pulled out of making its own car, and Tesla Inc. has repeatedly missed its delivery targets for its lower-cost Model 3. California needs Michigan’s expertise, but at the dawn of a new age of mobility and technology, the auto industry can also benefit from the fast-paced nature and vitality of Silicon Valley’s technology stronghold.

“This was dreamt up by talking to industry, here in Detroit and in California,” said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of trade and procurement programs at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The plan is his brainchild.

“We want to get Michigan companies involved in the valley and get those startups and tech companies there access to the end clients here,” Pawl said. “If we can connect them to Ford or Delphi or whomever, that means they’re more likely to invest and create jobs in Michigan.”

The MEDC and its partners will spend $250,000 in 2017 on sponsorships, creating “Shark Tank”-style events where California startups pitch Michigan’s auto players and, ultimately, set up a state economic development office in Silicon Valley. Additional funds will be spent on marketing the concept, Pawl said.

The state plans to become a sponsor of Santa Clara, Calif.-based processor maker Nvidia Corp.’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, Calif., in May. Planet M would be marketed and state economic agencies would be present, once a deal is reached, Pawl said. The conference attracts global scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs focused on artificial intelligence, virtual reality and driverless cars.

The goal of the initiative is to create or be involved in 12 events between Silicon Valley and Michigan.

Pawl said too often Michigan’s auto industry is used as the commercialization piece of the supply chain, losing out on the profitable aspects of innovation.

“We’ve spent years touting that we’re the auto capital, that we have 375 (research and development) centers,” Pawl said. “But what happens too often is a raw idea comes from, say, Japan, then to Silicon Valley for early-stage development, then to testing in Tennessee, then to Farmington Hills for validation. We’re the last stop on the innovation chain. We need to be stop number two. We need to be the innovation center.”

Farmington Hills-based Flextronics Automotive USA Inc., a subsidiary of Singapore technology conglomerate Flex Ltd., is already in discussions with the MEDC to get involved with the initiative. Flex is involved in 12 businesses, including a $2 billion automotive unit dedicated to autonomous, connected and electrification vehicle technology. Its U.S. headquarters is located in Silicon Valley. Flextronics employs 600 in Michigan and its customers include Ford, General Motors Co., Tata Technologies Inc., FCA US LLC, etc.

Chris Obey, president of Flextronics Automotive, speaking from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, said Flextronics is often overlooked in the automotive conversation because its U.S. headquarters is in Silicon Valley, where automakers look more to Delphi Automotive plc and Robert Bosch LLC that have more established relationships.

“We’re trying to get recognized as a tier-one supplier in the auto sector, so being on top of a contact initiative like this is important,” Obey said. “We’re looking to continue to invest in the Detroit area, so we want to help bring our knowledge base in Silicon Valley to Detroit as it becomes a larger and larger tech zone and an autonomous vehicle center.”

Flex, and Flextronics, is the sort of multifaceted business Detroit wants to attract. Flex’s business lines include manufacturing of 80 percent of the world’s wearable devices, including all of the activity trackers for San Francisco-based Fitbit Inc. It supplies customers in the connected home, energy, server, storage and mobile fields.

“Speed is currency and the world is moving faster and faster, and we’re hoping to show Michigan’s auto sector how important it is to innovate at high speed,” Obey said. “We’re working with several local companies on autonomous projects, and we’re going to focus more of that work in Michigan. This initiative should help others to do more of the same.”

Glenn Stevens, executive director of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MichAuto, an automotive advocacy group that works closely with the MEDC, said the auto companies are now technology companies, so aligning with the world’s greatest idea generators is important.

“A lot of these entrepreneurs have this perception that the traditional auto companies move slow,” Stevens said. “That’s just not true. With programs like this, we’re able to change this perception and show them how automotive is a real target market.”

Tim Yerdon, director of marketing and communications for Van Buren Township-based Visteon Corp. and chairman of MichAuto’s talent and retention committee, said getting products to market is now the auto industry’s greatest challenge.

“It’s all about how quickly we can get these new (automotive) functions to market,” Yerdon said. “Anything the state can do to expedite that is another feather in our cap and to the state and industry.”

Stevens said the Silicon Valley plan is the first in what he hopes will be a full expansion of the state’s economic prowess across the country.

“There’s real opportunity with the Valley, but not limited to just there,” Stevens said. “There’s opportunity in Austin or Boston or other parts of the world. It’s not just about accelerating something that’s happening today, but connecting those with these ideas all over the world with the consumers (Michigan auto companies) of that technology.”

View the original article here: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20170108/NEWS/170109880/mobility-initiative-aims-to-match-state-auto-business-silicon-valley?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1

North American International Auto Show Celebrates Detroit’s Innovative Technology

By Rod Alberts

We are experiencing one of the most dramatic shifts in our industry I have ever experienced in my more than 25-year history leading the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The disruption of new, mobility focused technologies and advent of autonomous vehicles is quickly changing the automotive landscape, and I believe we will see more change in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 50.

Michigan holds leadership positions in talent development, auto R&D and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) testing. With 61 out of the top 100 global suppliers being headquartered in Michigan and 15 global automakers having R&D facilities or their headquarters in the state, more than 25 percent of all automotive patents are generated in Michigan. To put that into perspective, that is three times as many as any other state in the United States.

Artist’s rendering of the brand new AutoMobili-D exhibit at the 2017 North American International Auto Show set to showcase more than 120 companies, from automakers to suppliers and tech startups.

Artist’s rendering of the brand new AutoMobili-D exhibit at the 2017 North American International Auto Show set to showcase more than 120 companies, from automakers to suppliers and tech startups.

With all of this excitement and development happening right in our backyard, the NAIAS is well-positioned to showcase these companies and revolutionary technologies.

With that in mind, we are launching AutoMobili-D, a 120,000-square-foot exposition within NAIAS that will feature more than 120 companies, ranging from automakers and suppliers to tech startups. These industry-leading companies will demonstrate and debut technologies and innovations focused on future mobility and transportation platforms. Thought leaders and executives from participating companies will participate in symposiums and speaking opportunities from our atrium stage and adjoining Planet M hall during Industry Preview.

John Krafcik, CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, will keynote the kickoff to AutoMobili-D on Sunday, Jan. 8. Including Krafcik’s address, NAIAS will have five dedicated days of content during Preview Week (Press Days and Industry Days), on everything from vehicle reveals and industry outlooks to the mobility ecosystem. In total, over 55 hours of thought-provoking, engaging content will be delivered from the global stage NAIAS provides.

NAIAS has a tremendous impact on our region, with an economic impact totaling $430 million. Our much-anticipated Charity Preview, started back in 1976 by a group of local Detroit auto dealers, is the largest annual single-night fundraiser in the world, with $5.2 million being raised for local children’s charities in 2016. In total, more than 815,000 people walked through the doors of the world-class Cobo Center and experienced the latest and greatest vehicles this world has to offer.

It is an honor to be part of our nation’s most prestigious and influential automotive showcase, and I encourage you all to visit us in January.

For more information on the show, please visit NAIAS.com.

Rod Alberts is the executive director of the North American International Auto Show.