Spring Break Trip to Silicon Valley: Day Four

Author: Thomas Cotter

At Unity TechnologiesAt Unity Technologies

Thursday started early for half of the ESTEEM class as we loaded into vans in Palo Alto and headed to San Francisco to see Unity Technologies, IDEO and Ekso Bionics. We fought through San Francisco rush hour traffic before stopping at Unity Technologies, a company that ensures clear features and functionality in video games. After a tour of the Unity offices, the class listened to Unity CRO David Roads speak about the implications of AR/VR within the video game industry in the coming years. Additionally, Roads spoke to how Unity’s technical expertise would allow them to apply the same technology that creates high quality gaming environments to other industries such as automotive and healthcare in the coming years.

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The class piled back in the Vans to drive from Palo Alto to visit the global design and innovation firm, IDEO. Dennis Boyle, a Notre Dame alumnus, showed the class around IDEO’s facility, including their toy innovation lab. Dennis spoke to how the world we live in is “underdesigned”, which creates opportunity for entrepreneurs to empathize with the experience of products and services and make iterations that will improve the experiences for customers. IDEO was one of the first firms to leverage design thinking, which uses empathy and experimentation to create solutions desired by customers.

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The class drove back to San Francisco to tour Ekso Bionics a machine exoskeleton company that creates exoskeletons that improve the rehab process for patients with spinal cord injuries and commercial workers who are in labor intensive roles. My classmates and I were inspired by the mission driven nature of the company as they sought to revolutionize the rehab process for spinal cord injury patients.

The day ended with a class dinner at a local restaurant where we reflected as a class on the week. From talks and visits with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and innovative companies, my classmates and I finished the weak feeling tired but, immensely fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in the Silicon Valley trip. In the days since, I have spoken with several prospective students for next year’s ESTEEM class about my experiences in the program. Although it is mind boggling to think that my classmates and my time in the program may be coming to an end, the unique applied experiences and strong relationships that the ESTEEM program offers its students, makes attending the Master’s program one of the best decisions I have ever made.