ECE Building hosts Think Chicago Roadshow
Miranda Holloway, Engineering at Illinois
11/14/2017 9:35:51 AM
Benjamin Khachaturian had a captive audience in the ECE Building at the Think Chicago Roadshow event. During the student demo portion of the day, Khachaturian, a junior studying Industrial Design, showed member of the Chicago tech community his toy, Ring Wing, which is set to hit the market in spring of 2018.
“We’re getting to those final stages of this project, but there are still a couple of final things we need to get done and networking with people who’ve done this sort of thing before is simply invaluable,” Khachaturian said.
The student demo was just one portion of the roadshow, which is a new initiative to connect Chicago tech companies with top engineering students and recent graduates.
Think Chicago began as a partnership between the Chicago Mayor’s office, the University of Illinois, and World Business Chicago to bring students to Chicago Ideas Week, and has grown to a broader effort to introduce top engineering talent nationwide to the Chicago tech landscape.
“Coast to coast it’s a national program that brings college students and recent graduates to Chicago to showcase what’s happening in tech, whether it’s entrepreneurial opportunities to start your own company, join a growth stage company, or work for a large global corporation that’s looking for tech talent,” Alya Wood, of Chicago World Business said. “Our goal is to connects students to opportunities to learn about innovation in Chicago and what the innovation ecosystem is about in Chicago.”
This roadshow had student demos, a panel discussion, and a meet and greet. Students took advantage of that networking opportunity, speaking to companies about potential internships and full time positions, as well as making connections for their own businesses.
“There’s entrepreneurial talent [in Chicago] so it’s great networking with people who’ve done it before, so you can learn from them, work with them, and they can answer your questions and guide you along,” Khachaturian said.
MatSE PhD candidate Tony Griffin used this opportunity to speak to companies about his start-up, Autonomic Energy Systems, which makes safer and longer lasting lithium ion batteries. This start-up commercializes research from the autonomic material systems lab of his co-founders, Scott White, Nancy Sotos, and Jeff Moore.
Although Griffin’s work is mainly hardware based, and the event contained mainly software companies, he was able to talk with people who already have their feet on the ground in the Chicago area.
“I’m getting a lot of connections to be able to make introductions into companies that are potential customers for our product in the future,” Griffin said.
Companies on the roadshow also have the opportunities to see the potential of tapping into the pipeline of engineering talent from just two hours south of the city. Many of the companies involved are start-ups or fast growing tech companies, and these trips let them meet students even if they don’t have a large recruiting program developed.
“We think this is a great opportunity to pool resources between companies, bring them out, and show them that you can tell the story of your own company but also tell the story of Chicago collectively,” Woods said.
These opportunities highlight the potential the Chicago tech community has to offer, and is a big part of what Think Chicago hopes to convey to the potential talent who visit its events.
“There is just a really diverse and dynamic tech ecosystem there with a lot of different type of industries represented,” Woods said. “Whether you’re into data science, or machine learning, or traditional hard-core coding, I think there are a lot of different types of opportunities.”