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Through the +Tech Literacy Download, I Strengthened My Skills and Helped Foster a Student Community Interested in Using Tech and Business to Make a Positive Impact


My goal coming into business school was to be a part of something bigger and more impactful involving technology.

Maria Sinagra, MBA '23

In fact, in my MBA admission essay I talked about my goal of increasing the interconnectivity of human behavior and technology to solve society’s toughest challenges and to empower people and businesses to reach their full potential. 

Upon accepting my admission to the Ross School of Business, I received an opportunity to lead content development for the new Business+Tech initiative at Michigan Ross. Business+Tech’s goal is to create literacy and opportunities to explore the intersection between business and technology for students, faculty, and alumni across the entire University of Michigan ecosystem. Through this initiative, I collaborate with such a passionate, driven, and enthusiastic group of people on the content team, and on the greater Business+Tech team. The +Tech team is motivated to create a community through a variety of events to help Ross and U-M students connect, contribute, and learn more about technology. 

Participating in the +Tech Literacy Download at Michigan Ross

The first event of the year was the inaugural +Tech Literacy Download, which was a weeklong event that included a series of workshops and bootcamps to help students gain a better understanding of the different areas of technology. Prior to Michigan Ross, I was a technology consultant for a Big Four consulting firm and worked with three distinct technologies: predictive modeling, software design and development, and process robotics automation development. Although I never worked on other big “buzzword” technologies like blockchain, AI, chat bots, SQL, Python, etc, I did have a foundational understanding of what they could do. However, I have never had the chance to fully grasp and learn the concepts and various use cases. I was eager to come to Ross to continue sharpening my overall technical skill set with increased knowledge of the technology through a business lens. 

When I first found out about the +Tech Literacy Download, I immediately signed up for every event that could fit my schedule. These included the SQL Bootcamp, which featured a keynote with the cofounder of MySpace, Josh Berman; and sessions on blockchain, cybersecurity, UI/UX, machine learning's impact on digital ads, digital marketing, and trustworthy AI (how lack of diversity impacts AI). The weeklong program consisted of about 25 events with guest speakers and industry leaders from various big tech companies and consulting firms. At the risk of sounding nerdy, I was excited about all of them. 

Throughout the event, I experienced the perspective of the student participant and a +Tech Team contributor. As a student participant, I attended the events mentioned above, hearing from various technology industry leaders and watching company demos of their technology solutions. One event that I was particularly excited about was the cybersecurity event, which was led by Splunk Technology. Back in my consulting days, cybersecurity was one of the most talked-about areas in tech, yet I had no experience or background to fully comprehend cybersecurity’s importance. I only knew that it was critical to any organization with sensitive data and privacy. Thus, I was eager to hear and learn from Splunk. 

The speakers, software engineers Komal Dhillon and Libby Kraemer, guided us through a comprehensive view of cybersecurity, covering important topics like the value of and biggest challenges in data, and how Splunk spots risks and creates insights using data. Dhillon and Kraemer also walked us through Splunk’s search processing language and a demo of their platform used to detect anomalies in their customer sites. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the demo, learning how to detect a data breach through VPN connections - it was very cool. I would not have known how critical and vital software surveillance and monitoring would be. I think this is why students come to these events, to see how products and solutions work in real life. Based on the discussion questions and topics toward the end of the program, the other students were just as engaged and excited about the content shared as I was. 

From the +Tech team perspective, I encountered a number of students who approached our booth with curiosity about our event programming and the initiative. As a newly founded team, we enthusiastically talked about our team, future events, and shared passion for bringing technology to Michigan Ross and U-M. Watching students become excited to engage with the Business+Tech initiative, and even sign up for events on the spot, was empowering and encouraging. Like my initial business school goal, I am excited to be a part of something transformative and to help students learn the foundations of various sides of technology. As Alexey Surkov, featured speaker of the Trustworthy AI session, said: “We are currently seeing a [data] transformation like never before,” and I hope to continue being an educator and influencer in all things tech at Ross. 

Learn more about the Business+Tech initiative at Michigan Ross