In Case You Missed It: MICHauto by the Bay

After a one-year hiatus, MICHauto by the Bay returned to the Hotel Indigo rooftop in Traverse City on Aug. 3 for a memorable evening. Held during the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars, over 100 people attended the networking event that served to promote MICHauto’s industry branding campaign, Discover Auto: You Drive the Future.

Among the many suppliers, educational institutions, service providers, non-profits, and economic development office attendees were two co-chairs of the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus, Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City). Conversation topics revolved around mobility and talent, as well as the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that stalled face-to-face gatherings for more than a year.

“It was really great to be out in public seeing our friends, colleagues, and partners face-to-face again. Our MICHauto team is so appreciative of our sponsors and everyone that attended. We really enjoyed reconnecting,” said Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto.

Jenny Orletski-Dehne, coordinator of MICHauto, spoke briefly about the importance of the recently launched industry branding campaign featuring young professionals. “This campaign is getting a lot of attention on Instagram from 13-20 year-olds. Young professionals sharing their personal stories and experiences to drive the message that our industry is growing, global, inclusive, and high-tech is relatable for this audience.”

Launched in June, the Discover Auto: You Drive the Future campaign seeks to change the perception students have that the automotive industry is not very innovative or exciting. Hearing passionate, youthful voices talk about a day in their life paints a truer picture of what automotive and mobility look like today. To share the message, check out the toolkit and follow along on our social channels.

A special thank you to our incredible sponsors at Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Lacks Enterprises, Inc., Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS), and Continental Structural Plastics, a Teijin Group Company.

Michigan #1 State for Automotive Manufacturing According to Business Facilities

For the second consecutive year, Michigan holds the #1 ranking Automotive Manufacturing Strength according to the Business Facilities’ 17th annual Rankings Report for 2021. Over the past three years, Michigan created 11,000 new auto and mobility jobs. Additionally, the first new auto plant in Detroit in 30 years is simultaneously under construction and already in operation. The Big Three automakers have made firm commitments to electric vehicles and the future of mobility.

MICHauto Perspective
The recognition of Michigan’s excellence in manufacturing reflects the growing strength and competitiveness of Michigan’s economy. In CNBC’s Top States for Business annual ranking, Michigan improved 13 spots from 2019, to move up to 11th. The jump in the rankings was driven by high scores in the categories of technology and innovation, cost of living, and cost of doing business.

“A century of manufacturing expertise built Michigan’s reputation as the center of the automobility industry. MICHauto is proud to see our state ranked number one in the Automotive Manufacturing Strength by the Business Facilities Rankings Report,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director for MICHauto. “MICHauto’s committed advocacy for innovation, talent attraction, and investment will allow Michigan to maintain our global leadership.”

Leadership in Manufacturing Translates to a Strong Economy
MICHauto’s Mobility Industry Economic Contribution to Michigan report outlines the mobility industry’s economic contribution to the state. It is clear from the data how critical the mobility industry is for the state. Michigan’s mobility industry total economic output was $304 billion in 2019, which makes it larger than Germany’s $250 billion. That $304 billion represents 23% of Michigan’s gross state product, and more than 1.1 million jobs are either directly or indirectly tied to the industry. This is more than 25% of Michigan’s 4 million private-sector jobs. These are also some of the highest-paying jobs in our state. The average compensation for a worker in the industry is $65,000 compared with the state average of just under $30,000.

Michigan not only maintained its leading position in automotive manufacturing strength, it also held steady in the top 5 states for manufacturing relative to employment (#4) as well as manufacturing output (#4). This strong showing in the manufacturing sector, in spite of the impacts of a global pandemic, demonstrates the commitment Michigan’s business and political leaders have towards growing the industry.

“These Business Facilities rankings reaffirm what we already know: Michigan’s manufacturing workforce is who you turn to when you want to get the job done,” said Gov. Whitmer. “We are building on our rich manufacturing heritage as we jumpstart our economy, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and position Michigan as a top state to start and grow a business. As Michigan builds our way out of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to build a nation for the next generation and create economic prosperity for years to come.”

MICHauto has played a critical role in the strength of Michigan’s manufacturing through advocacy on next-generation mobility initiatives, attracting and retaining talent, and convening leaders from the industry.

LISTEN IN: Glenn Stevens Jr. Joins Paul W. Smith at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars

MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. spoke with WJR’s Paul W. Smith Showtoday in Traverse City during the 2021 Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars. During the interview, Stevens shared MICHauto’s five new priorities including focus on:

  • Attracting the next generation of industry talent
  • High-tech talent
  • Supply chain solutions
  • EV impact on manufacturing
  • Influencing policy

Listen to the full discussion below:

MICHauto Priorities for the Automobility Industry Coming Out of CAR MBS

DETROIT (Aug. 3, 2021) – Today, MICHauto, a statewide initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber, released five priorities for the automobility industry as leaders gather for the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City this week.

“The automotive and mobility industry has shown remarkable resilience over the past 15 months during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber. “While challenges still remain, MICHauto is excited to work with key partners around our state to transform the industry into an innovative hub for data science, automation, and artificial intelligence that ensures Michigan remains the global mobility leader.”

Attracting the Next Generation of Industry Talent

MICHauto’s Discover Auto: You Drive the Future campaign is a unique initiative to connect young automotive professionals with youth to help them imagine a career in the automotive and mobility industry. The program’s goal is to attract, develop, cultivate, and retain key people that will help drive Michigan forward.

Workforce diversity is a major topic at CAR MBS, and the Discover Auto campaign focuses on attracting individuals from all backgrounds to find a home in the industry. The campaign solidifies Michigan’s and the automobility industry’s position as a high-tech, inclusive, global, solutions-oriented profession for economic opportunity.

High-Tech Talent

While MICHauto is positioning the industry and Michigan to attract the next generation, the industry needs to compete for and cultivate tech talent now. “Tech Talent” is a phrase used to describe the highly sought after workforce with the skills to drive growth and innovation at technology companies. This could include various roles, including IT professionals, computer science professionals, software developers, engineers, data scientists, and many more emerging positions.

“MICHauto applauds the important investment in the entry-level and mid-level skills by Michigan, but the state and industry must make a commitment to invest in the high-tech talent sector to maintain our position in a competitive global marketplace,” said Stevens.

Supply Chain Solutions

Solving the short-term challenge of the semiconductor chip shortage remains priority number one for the industry. However, the medium and long term will be all about critical minerals and components needed for increasingly complex vehicles. The minerals required for the EV industry battery demand will be a significant issue for years to come. The supply chain of the future will design for recyclability, mineral sources, vertical integration, new propulsion, and battery technologies.

EV Impact on Manufacturing

The transition to more electric vehicles will have a significant impact on manufacturing in Michigan and around the globe. MICHauto’s Mobility Contribution Report explored the full extent the industry has on the state’s economy. In 2019, employment in the mobility industry helped generate total direct and indirect employment of almost 1.1 million people in the state, approximately 20% of Michigan’s total employment. Investment in next-generation manufacturing and training for workers focused on internal combustion engines will be critical for the state and the industry to ensure continued economic growth.

Influencing Policy

Much of the next generation of transportation and automotive and mobility investment will come from the Biden Administration and federal agencies like the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy. Michigan has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use money from the American Rescue Plan and a proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill to make the transformational investments for the automotive and mobility industry to grow and thrive. MICHauto’s ability to convene industry, municipal, state, and federal leaders will be critical to ensure wise and effective use of this investment.

Commentary: Hands-Free Legislation Still Needed to Save Lives

Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 1, 2021
Glenn Stevens Jr., MICHauto

It’s been nearly five years since Paula Kiefer experienced every mother’s worst nightmare. She arrived home to a police officer waiting for her in her driveway to give her the news that a distracted driver had just taken the life of her son — 18-year-old Mitchel Kiefer — the namesake and inspiration of the Kiefer Foundation and its work to end distracted driving.

Sadly, Mitchel’s story and the devastating loss experienced by his family remains far too familiar. In 2019, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Eight times a day, a police officer in our country must have a conversation just like the one with Paula. Now is the time for legislative solutions that save lives.

We urge our partners in the Michigan Legislature to support and pass House Bills 4277, 4278, and 4279, prohibiting drivers from using a mobile electronic device unless they are using it in a “hands-free” mode such as Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.

While more people today recognize the dangers of using mobile devices while driving, too many still use them while operating their vehicles. This often occurs at high speeds on the freeway where drivers don’t appreciate what a difference even a few seconds can make. Imagine this: at 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for only five seconds is essentially driving an entire football field with your eyes closed! Many people drive much faster than that to and from work each day.

Some people have asked why we need a new law when Michigan already has a ban on texting while driving. The answer is simple: that law was passed in a different era, before phones had internet. Today, it is very difficult for an officer to determine when drivers are texting (which is illegal) and when they are on email, Facebook or shopping on Amazon (which is not).

Due to the urgency of this issue, 24 states — Republican and Democrat — have adopted more comprehensive hands-free laws. Recent studies consistently show that these laws are dramatically reducing the rate of crashes and fatalities as a result of distractions caused by mobile devices.

MICHauto has heard people say that innovation can solve a problem that technology created. They contend that innovation in the form of autonomous and self-driving vehicles is right around the corner. As the voice of our state’s signature industry, MICHauto advocates for the bright future of autonomy and mobility. However, while we share the excitement about the potentially revolutionary impact autonomous vehicles will have on the world, full implementation of the technology is likely decades off. In the meantime, more Michigan motorists, passengers, and pedestrians will die from entirely preventable accidents until this legislation passes.

This September will mark five years since a distracted driver killed Mitchel. Together, we can honor Mitchel and those like him and ensure this senseless, preventable, and unimaginable tragedy doesn’t happen again.

*View the original article.

MICHauto’s Stevens on WILS Discussing U.S.-Canada Border and Michigan Manufacturing

Glenn Stevens, executive director for MICHauto, joined “The WILS Morning Wake Up with Dave Ackerly” to discuss the recent joint statement from the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Windsor Essex Region Chamber of Commerce, and the Canada-U.S. Business Association calling on the Biden Administration to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian residents. Stevens also discussed the positive news that Michigan was ranked number one in the Business Facilities’ 17th annual Rankings Report for 2021, for the Automotive Manufacturing Strength category. MICHauto’s leadership over the past decade has been instrumental in promoting the state’s signature automobility industry by supporting innovation, talent attraction, and investment in Michigan.

Emerging Automotive Professional: Omron’s Danny Cervantes







Connect with Danny on LinkedIn.

Getting into Automotive 

What inspired you to go into the automotive and mobility field?

Endless opportunities:

  • Sales
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Management

Did you to grow up with family members in the automotive industry?


What interests led you to consider a career in automotive?

I’ve always been interested in cars. Focusing on mechanical engineering in college led me to grow that interest and exposed me to the new wave of automotive technology (mechanical vs. electric).

When were you first exposed to automotive?

I went through Omron’s technical sales program at our headquarters in Hoffman Estate, IL. After completing the program, the trainees were able to choose where we would like to move long-term. I chose Detroit because I knew I would be able to visit automotive plants and see the manufacturing process firsthand. The first automotive plant I visited was a door handle supplier. Prior to my position at Omron, I had a general impression of all the parts it takes to manufacture a vehicle, but I never took into account how precise the products needed to be made and the process for making them. After seeing the process, I thought “every single item on a car needs to be designed, manufactured, and examined somehow.” That’s what drove my automotive industry interest.

Growing up, what was your first impression of the automotive industry? How would you have described the industry?

Growing up, I had the stereotypical view of the automotive industry. I think my impression was probably similar to a lot of people who haven’t been exposed to it. I thought of things like steam engines, gas, gears, and coal. After getting to see what things really look like, I thought it was amazing how complex the technology and engineering design can be during each and every step of creating a product. Automotive plants are incredibly high-tech and the dollar investment in each plant is amazing.

What college did you attend, what was your major, and why did you choose that path?

  • California State University of Chico
  • Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • Minor: Anthropology
  • Started as a Theatre Arts major, switched to Psychology, then Sociology, then Anthropology, and finally landed on Mechanical Engineering.

Automotive Career: Then and Now 

What opportunities did you have in college that allowed you to explore or start your career in automotive, including any co-ops or internships? 

I had an internship at Promex Industries, and a student research internship for my senior project.

What was your first job post-college? 

My first job post-college was with Omron.

What was your role now? What projects and programs do you work on? What does a typical day look like?

I am a technical sales associate with Omron. I advance sales for Omron products in the Detroit, MI region.

A typical day involves:

  • Meeting in person with customers to view their plants and evaluate if there are potential problems that Omron products/engineers may help with.
  • Taking phone calls to solve problems and schedule meetings, and getting the correct people with different specialties involved.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself starting to look into a management role, or another position with Omron.

Advice for Young Students 

Knowing what you know now, if you could give your younger self one tip or piece of advice, what would it be?

Have fun as much as you can before you are in your career. Take advantage of the time you have. Work hard and believe it will pay off.

What advice do you have for high school students who are interested in automotive, but unsure if it’s the career for them? 

Automotive doesn’t just mean engineering. Any type of work can be related to something in the automotive industry.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given? 

Good things come with time. Be patient.

What do you love about working in the automotive industry (and specifically the automotive industry in Michigan)? 

I love how the community is connected throughout the state. It is exciting to work with people who know others that I may come into contact with at different companies. All the automotive companies in Michigan know each other and may have worked with each other in the past. Being in my position I use that to my advantage.

Do you participate in any organizations outside of work? Or have any hobbies (unrelated to automotive)? Do you feel the work-life balance in the auto industry allows you to continue these passions?  

While I am not part of any certified organizations, I like spending time with friends, being able to hike, travel, and workout. Work-Life balance is a necessity in my way of living and I feel the automotive industry allows me to take full advantage.


Got Talent? Global Detroit’s GTA Can Help

Finding and retaining top talent has been an ongoing challenge for the Michigan automotive and mobility industry. While many still perceive this industry as old-school and dated, the reality is much different as OEMs and suppliers race to implement the latest technology to improve quality and safety while meeting evolving consumer preferences. How can students and young professionals best prepare to contribute to this growing, global, inclusive, and high-tech industry in the face of a major transformation?

Students in the summer cohort of the Global Talent Accelerator (GTA), run by Global Detroit, learned the answer to that question in an open workshop lead by Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto. GTA is a soft-skills bootcamp for a small group of 15-20 STEM students. Through the summer program, students learn skills from experts on how to brand themselves in the U.S. job market, attend events and workshops tailored to improve their chances of employment, and get career coaching from professionals and mentors.

Guiqiu Wang, program manager of international talent and entrepreneurship for Global Detroit, felt it was important for this group of students to hear from MICHauto.

“I am very excited to have MICHauto lead this workshop on the mobility industry and job prospects in Michigan for international students. With the advancement of technology, the international students will greatly benefit from learning from MICHauto, the leading mobility organization, about what skills and capacities are needed to meet industrial needs,” said Wang.

The workshop was attended by 16 students, from eight different Michigan colleges and universities and ten different countries, that were highly engaged and asked several questions as Sauer shared the latest trends driving transformation of the industry, including connectivity, autonomy, and electrification. To exemplify the transformation, Sauer honed in on the electrification trend showing how fewer parts are needed as the industry moves away from internal combustion engines (ICE) toward electric vehicles (EV). Of special interest to the students, was the real-life case study comparing vehicle headlights from 1999 to 2020, highlighting that lighting products now have an element of software coding as enablers to autonomy.

In addition to the industry transformation, Sauer highlighted five things that the students can do today to jump start their career path:

  • Build your Network: Join LinkedIn, connect to people you know and young professionals, such as those featured in MICHauto’s branding campaign: Discover Auto: Connect with Emerging Professionals – MICHauto.
  • Be Informed: Learn about the industry through sources like Automotive News or
  • Follow Trends: Stay current on trends in mobility and follow podcasts like Tech Talk by HELLA.
  • Be Flexible: Allow for flexibility in your journey and open to change as you grow in your career.
  • Be Collaborative: Work within teams to question the status quo and make your mark.

The summer 2021 cohort of students will graduate from the GTA program in a virtual ceremony on July 30, having learned insights from several professionals. Last year, 90% of the summer cohort was made up of STEM majors, 60% of whom were hired by Michigan companies within three months of graduating. For more information, visit Global Talent Accelerator – Global Detroit (

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent: Mobility Challenge

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) is a citywide summer program led by the city of Detroit that trains and employs young adults who are residents of the city. GDYT, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, is offering a unique opportunity to 30 participants to learn app design and coding in a GDYT app showcase that is supported and facilitated by Apple. A team of Apple employees will guide participants as they learn how to build an app prototype that solves a local community challenge in the areas of hip hop, sustainable fashion, and mobility.

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, presented the mobility challenge to the participants. By starting with the history and background information on mobility and Detroit’s infrastructure, he led up to two essential questions: (1) how can technology improve communication, access to transportation, and a greater sense of community, and (2) how do we utilize existing forms of communication and create new ones that are tied together and enabled by the people?

Ultimately, the participants were presented with the challenge to create ideas, improved communication tools, and technology enablers that can connect transportation and people in order to improve access to health care, education, employment, and life. The challenges are purposefully broad to spark creativity and generate new ideas to solve these challenging community issues.

As students develop their app designs and prototypes, they have the opportunity to connect with community experts and ask questions about the challenges. To provide the students with additional resources and perspectives on the mobility challenge, MICHauto has asked Mark de la Vergne, vice president of project development at Cavnue, and Brandon Tucker, associate vice president of workforce and community development at Washtenaw Community College, to act as mentors. As a mentor they will use their experience and knowledge to respond to inquiries from students and provides support as needed.

At the end of the 6-week program, students will present their app prototypes in a showcase. However, more importantly, students will walk away with an in-demand skill they can develop further into a career, as well as valuable soft skills.

Cost of Living – Why Michigan?

When considering career choices, it’s important to consider location. Students and young professionals may like the idea of living in California – beaches, sun, and warm weather – however, they need to consider the cost of living and the lifestyle they want to maintain. The median salary for an engineer in Detroit is $94,525 and $110,694 in Los Angeles. After factoring in the cost of living, an engineer would need to make 65% more to maintain their same lifestyle in LA as in the Detroit region. Additionally, the average apartment rent per month is over $1500 more in LA than Detroit. Health care, gas and groceries are also more expensive in LA, as shown in the chart below.

In 2019, there were 7,676 more engineers in LA than Detroit, however, there is a higher concentration in Detroit (LQ 3.05) than LA (LQ 0.97) as evident by their respective location quotients measuring concentration. In fact, engineers are less concentrated in LA than the rest of the nation on average (LQ <1). Therefore, students and young professionals who are looking for employment as an engineer will be able to tap into the talent pool in Detroit, where engineers are employed at a greater rate than a typical region. In addition, based on the cost of living they will be able to maintain a higher standard of living.