On Feb. 10–11, the MSU Broad Full-Time MBA program hosted the annual West Coast virtual tech trek for first- and second-year MBA students. Normally, this event is an actual trek to the Bay Area and Seattle during winter break, but due to the current COVID-19 situation, this year was a virtual opportunity.

The 2021 Tech Trek was a two-day experience in which attendees participated in dialogue with dynamic startups and global tech titans. Day one was a presentation and Q&A session with Zoox, based in Foster City, California. Zoox is an autonomous vehicle company, recently made Amazon’s third-largest acquisition. Broad MBA alumnus Karthik Singaraju offered us a peek behind the curtain to learn more about the imminent rollout and the sensory technology behind an autonomous vehicle. The cameras and sensors and the artificial intelligence making decisions on what to do in traffic were next-level tech.

The following day was a strong lineup of three great companies. We first heard from Lumentum and their multiple panelists. Lumentum is a photonics company that specializes in commercial laser products used in semiconductors, mobile devices, smart TVs, PCs and more. I recall a panelist saying, “If you have ever unlocked your smart device with your face, most likely it was a Lumentum laser that did it.”

Following the Lumentum presentation and Q&A session, the tech giant Google was on deck. Students were able to hear about a day in the life of a Google employee and what makes working at Google a tremendous opportunity. David Pawlak, a Broad alumnus, led the session, discussing the ever-changing dynamic of working at a tech company and the relationships built within the Bay Area community of tech professionals at numerous neighboring companies and start-ups.

Lastly, to cap our virtual Tech Trek, Microsoft closed the event. There were several Microsoft employees who were Broad alumni on the panel, including our host, Subhayu Mukherjee (MBA ’15), and Travis Johnson (MBA ’20). The Microsoft presentation was supply chain cloud-focused, helping us learn some aspects of how parts of the supply chain are operated within Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform.

Overall, the virtual Tech Trek was an insightful, eye-opening experience that gave us a look at the many opportunities available at tech companies and the latest technologies that will be at the forefront of this sector in the coming years.