Auto execs to discuss industry, careers with students

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Hundreds of Metro Detroit high school and college students are expected to receive unique insights into the automotive industry Monday night in Royal Oak.

About 475 students are registered to attend Ignite Automotive 3, a free networking and discussion event featuring 16 auto industry officials talking about their jobs and unique experiences in the industry. The goal of the event, according to event organizers, is to inspire students to think about a career in the automotive industry.

"I'm a big believer in the industry and Detroit in general, and trying to get young people involved in the industry," said Ralph Gilles, North American senior vice president of product design at Fiat Chrysler Automobile NV. "I think the auto industry might not be the sexiest industry in their minds only because they don't know how intricate it has become."

Gilles, who regularly promotes the auto industry to younger generations, is the event's keynote speaker. Other Representatives from automotive companies include Ford Motor Co., Magna International Inc. and others.

Discussions during the event are similar to TED talks but targeted to high-school and college students. They're particularly unique because speakers deliver a five-minute talk with supporting slides that move every 15-seconds — whether the presenter is done discussing the topic or not.

"It's like a sporting event," said Tor Hough, an event organizer and founder of Rochester-based automotive data and supply chain analytics company Elm Analytics LLC. "One way or another, it's entertaining,"

Ignite Automotive 3 is free to attend. Registration is open through 4 p.m. Monday at and

The event, returning after a four-year hiatus, is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St. in Royal Oak. Presentations are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a two-hour networking event beforehand and a social hour to follow.

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