Caltech CMS TechFest

Meeting of the Minds Meeting of the Minds


On Friday, October 7, 2016, the CMS Partners Program will kick off with a day-long event focused on providing startups, companies, students, and faculty with a chance for meaningful interactions with each other. Our Partners Program members will show off cutting-edge research, inspiring students with brand new technologies. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the breadth of applications for computing and mathematical sciences across industries as well as get one-on-one career advice. Faculty will join in as well, with the goal of strengthening academic-industry connections.

This event is exclusive to the Caltech Community and CMS Partners Program members. Photography and/or recording of the Tech Track keynote, talks, and panel is not allowed.

All participants are expected to abide by the CMS Partners Program Code of Conduct.

The day is organized into two main parts: a Tech Track and a Career Track. Additionally, networking coffees and dinners will take place in the morning and evening. Members of the Partners Program, students, postdocs, and faculty can participate in all aspects of TechFest, and the timing of TechFest will allow students and companies to get to know each other before the Caltech Career Fair each Fall.

NOTE: If you are a member of the Caltech Community or Caltech Partners Program, registration is not required in order to attend the keynote, tech talks, Young Alum Founders Panel, or the Closing Reception. If you are not a member of either of these groups, you can still join the CMS Partners Program. See the FAQ below for details.


CMS TechFest 2016 will take place on October 7, 2016 in the Annenberg Center on Caltech’s campus. A preliminary schedule is below (subject to change).

Confirmed Company Participants

BCG Digital Ventures
Blizzard Entertainment
Bloomberg LP
Chai Energy
Embodied, Inc
Rokid, Inc.
Second Spectrum
Southern California Edison
Supply Frame Design Lab
Synapse Partners
TGS Management Company, LLC
Thrive Transit Inc.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Tech Track
Career Track
1-on-1 Mentoring Sessions
Coffee Mixers
Keynote: Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Tech Vignettes Session
1-on-1 Mentoring Sessions
DJI Drone Demo and Coffee Break (Outside Annenberg)
Young Founders Panel
1-on-1 Mentoring Sessions
Startup Session
Closing Reception (Annenberg Atrium)
Networking Dinners

Event Details

Tech Track

All talks will be held in Annenberg 105.

12:00pm: Keynote
Session Chair Adam Wierman
Speaker: Alex Zook, Senior Data Scientist, Blizzard Entertainment

Title: Better Games Through Data: How Blizzard Uses Data Science to Create Epic Experiences

Abstract: “Gameplay First!” is one of Blizzard’s core company values. Our data scientists combine machine learning, statistics, and insight to create epic experiences for our players across our games. In this talk we’ll cover two examples of data science driving epic game experiences: matchmaking in Heroes of the Storm and automatically detecting competitive playstyles in Hearthstone. These cases showcase how cutting-edge applications of data science can deliver world-class epic experiences in the entertainment industry.

Bio: Alex Zook is a Senior Data Scientist at Blizzard Entertainment and a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a Blizzard data scientist he's worked on problems including identifying gameplay styles ofWorld of Warcraft players, analyzing map design in Overwatch, and refining matchmaking in Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

1:10pm Tech Vignettes Session
Session Chair: Yisong Yue
1:10pm: Disney Animation - Speaker: Toby Jones / Title: Walt Disney Animation Studios: Simulation Technology
1:30pm: Bloomberg LP - Speaker: Chris Martin / Title: Hadoop GO
1:50pm: DJI - Speaker: Romeo Durscher, DJI Director of Education / Title: #DronesForGood

2:10pm: DJI Drone Demo (outdoors) / Coffee Break

2:30pm: Young Alum Founders Panel
Moderator: Evangelos Simoudis, Synapse Partners
Michael Amori, Virtualitics
Vanessa Burns, LumosTech
Anthony Chong, StatSketch
Cole Hershkowitz, Chai Energy

3:30pm Startup Session
Session Chair: Pietro Perona
3:30pm: ObEN - Speaker: Sho Guo / Title: Social Relationships in Virtual Reality
3:50pm: TGS Management Company - Title: At Scale Computing in Quantitative Finance
4:10pm: Second Spectrum - Speaker: Rajiv Maheswaran / Title: Machine Understanding of Sports

4:30-5:30pm: Closing Reception / Demo Fair (Annenberg’s Atrium, 2nd Floor)
The afternoon will culminate in a Closing Reception. Partner companies and student clubs will have tables and/or poster showing off research and new technologies as a jumping-off point for discussion with students and faculty as they mingle.

Career Track

The Career Track is an educational opportunity open to current Caltech students (undergrad and grad) and postdocs. Students and post-docs can signup for 1-on-1 20-minute Mentoring Sessions, Coffee Mixers, and Networking Dinners with company representatives (often alumni).

Due to high demand, registration for the Career Track is now closed. Thank you to all who signed up!

Coffee Mixers and Networking Dinners
Coffee Mixers and Networking Dinners will provide the opportunity for students and postdocs to expand their professional networks and gain advice in an informal setting with representatives from a variety of companies and startups. Companies such as: Google, JoinIN, TGS Management Company, Serenify, StatSketch, Sonikpass, Bloomberg LP, ObEN, Rokid, Inc., Facebook, Chai Energy, Thales, BCG Digital Ventures, and Disney Animation will organize events.

1-on-1 Mentoring Sessions
These 20-minute appointments give students and postdocs a chance to get individualized career advice from company representatives (typically alums). Students can guide these in many directions, getting resume feedback, interview tips, advice on founding startups, or just general career advice. Companies such as: Facebook, BCG Digital Ventures, Synapse Partners, Serenify, JoinIN, TGS Management Company, Google, Disney Animation, StatSketch, Bloomberg LP, ObEN, Rokid, Inc. will organize events.


Who can attend TechFest?

TechFest is open to all members of the Caltech community including students, postdocs, faculty and staff, as well as all members of our Caltech CMS Partners Program, with the exception of the Career Track, which is exclusive to students and post-docs.

I am a student, but not yet ready to interview or apply for jobs, should I sign up for the Career Track?

Yes! The Career Track represents an educational opportunity (not an interview or recruiting session). Company representatives can look over your resume if you have one ready or offer more general guidance about career paths and the job application process. Mentoring Sessions will be 1-on-1, giving you the opportunity for more personalized guidance while Coffee Mixers and Networking Dinners will be in small groups, allowing for a broader discussion.

Due to high demand, registration for the Career Track is now closed.

How do I sign up for TechFest?

CMS Partner company representatives sign up to participate via an online form. Due to high demand, company/startup registration is now closed. However, registration is not required to attend the Tech Track keynote, tech talks, panel, and Closing Reception, and we hope that all of our Partners will be able to attend!

Students and postdocs sign up for a career-advice appointment, a coffee mixer, and/or a networking dinner via an online form. Due to high demand, registration for these Career Track activities is now closed. Registration is not required to attend the Tech Track keynote, tech talks, panel, and Closing Reception. These Tech Track activities are open to all members of the Caltech community. We hope to see you there!

Is it too late to join the Caltech CMS Partners Program and attend TechFest?

Company/startup registration for participation in TechFest has now closed, but companies and individuals can join at any time throughout the year for participation in future events. If you are considering joining the Partners Program, we would love to chat with you. You can get in touch with us at

More information on joining the program is available here.

I am not a member of the Caltech community or a company representative. Is there a way for me to attend?

Our Caltech CMS Partners Program offers membership at the individual level. All members, including individuals, are welcome at all Partners Program events. Information on joining can be found here.