Building Community Through Connections
“Community is built through connections, friendships, and memories forged through experiences.”
The 2023 Michigan IT Tech Showcase and Social event was a new and exciting gathering for the Michigan IT community. This in-person, networking event welcomed more than 270 technology professionals to the Michigan Union on November 30. Designed to cultivate a sense of curiosity, cooperation, and unity within the community, the goal of this event was to create a more connected, collaborative, and innovative learning environment. The “showcase” aspect highlighted interesting new technologies from across the university in a fun and interactive atmosphere. The “social” side provided opportunities to strengthen community bonds.
The event opened with a greeting by Michigan IT chairperson, Kerry Flynn, Ross School of Business CIO, describing a renewed energy for the Michigan IT community. Profiling goals for upcoming activities and opportunities for engagement, she offered a call for people to volunteer and get involved.
Vice President for IT and U-M CIO, Ravi Pendse took the stage to welcome everyone. He stated how wonderful it was to see so many people reconnecting and the enormous value there is in connecting with one another. He went on to give remarks about the opening of the term and provided an early holiday greeting with a video by ITS marketing and communications.
Attendees engaged with several interactive demonstrations and activities. Each 30-minute activity was aimed to pique curiosity, share knowledge, inspire future technological advancements, and encourage open dialogue. Attendees rotated to their selected activities throughout the afternoon where they:
- Discovered all the capabilities surrounding U-M GPT and Generative AI for themselves in sessions led by Don Lambert and Ben Andries, from ITS Emerging Tech & AI Services. Various use cases involving the three-tier service launched in August, were discussed in a dialogue format with attendees.
- Learned how MBot, a low-cost, adaptable ecosystem for teaching robotics with a real robot, and a 3D lidar worked. Hundreds of MBots have been used to teach courses across undergraduate and graduate levels. A 3D lidar is how many autonomous systems see their environment. They could also check out the Michigan Robotics swag table.
- Experienced the latest advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in an interactive demonstration conducted by the Emerging Technologies Group.
- Networked, engaged, and (re)connected with people, which is at the core of what Michigan IT is all about. They could grab a friend, meet some new colleagues, collaborate on a puzzle, or team up on a game at various networking locations.
- Participated as individuals or in teams in a friendly competition to see who could answer the most IT-related trivia and fun U-M trivia questions. Across all five sessions the high score was 8/10.
- Took a few minutes out between sessions to visit the Therapaws of Michigan therapy dogs who were there with us for a portion of the afternoon.
- Visited the visual artist, Yen Azzaro, shared what they love about the Michigan IT community, and saw their ideas come to life in a collective illustration evolving throughout the event. The final images were inspired by contributions made by attendees. Click on the thumbnail images below to view the illustrations at a larger size.
Technology tours of the Michigan Stadium with round-trip transportation provided from the Michigan Union were also available for people who preregistered. The tours involved traversing floors of the stadium that are not accessible by elevator and spaces that are unavailable to the general public.
Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, CIO for Michigan Medicine, gave closing remarks speaking to the personal and professional value of getting involved in the Michigan IT community. He challenged all attendees to share their experience with four other people and encourage them to attend future events and get engaged.
Event co-chairs, Cheryl Sobkow (Ross IT) and Jennifer Herron (ITS) wrapped up the afternoon thanking the planning committee and giving away the games and puzzles from the networking tables. They also thanked the attendees for being open-minded and willing to try our new format.
Feedback from lessons learned and survey results from attendees are being reviewed and a final report will be published in the first quarter of 2024.
Click on an image to see it larger.
The Michigan IT Steering Committee is dedicated creating an ecosystem of inclusive engagement for the University of Michigan community while building avenues to learn, mentor, support, and participate while sharing our passion for technology. The vision for the Michigan IT community was updated in early 2023 to reflect the values and input received through community surveys.
Since 2012, the Michigan IT community has flourished through numerous initiatives, programs, and events. In previous years, the annual Michigan IT Symposium became the “fall classic,” but over time and coming out of the pandemic a new approach emerged thanks to feedback. The Michigan IT Steering Committee is eager to reveal a fresh community approach beginning with the Michigan IT Tech Showcase & Social. Our primary goal is to engage, inspire, and connect people through the unique mix of tech, events, and community spirit.
“The Michigan IT Community is dedicated to building avenues for collaboration and growth,” explained Kerry Flynn, chair for the Michigan IT Steering Committee and CIO for the Ross School of Business. “Our mission is to create an ecosystem of inclusive engagement for the University of Michigan community while creating avenues to learn, mentor, support, and participate while sharing our passion for technology. We invite you to join us.”
Tech Showcase & Social Planning Committee
- Cheryl Sobkow, Ross School of Business
- Jennifer Herron, Information and Technology Services (ITS)
- Kinnothan Nelson, School of Nursing
- Stephen McClatchey, College of Pharmacy
- Katherine Seeburger, ITS
- Jane Berliss-Vincent, ITS
- Michelle Zuelke, ITS
- Lisa Leutheuser, Ross School of Business
- Sungwon Park, School of Nursing
- Christine Hale, Health Information Technology Services (HITS)
- Josh Simon, LSA Technology Services
- Tyra High, Wolverine Pathways
- Sheri Fillip, Ross School of Business
- Kim Wooton, ITS
- Joel Iverson, ITS