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Ann Arbor Spark

May 14, 2019

More than Quality of Life – Ann Arbor has Quality People

Lee Dobryden

Lee Dobryden, a software engineer supervisor at FordLabs, is passionate about his hometown. He’s so passionate that he’s twice returned to Ann Arbor. The first time was after graduating from Ball State University, when he came back to Ann Arbor and began his career at the LinuxBox. “It was a great job, one where I got to work with a lot of different companies in town,” Lee said. “That’s probably why I feel so invested in the tech community. I love seeing how the startups from 10 years ago are growing and succeeding today.”

The second time Lee returned to Ann Arbor was after working for a year in San Mateo, California. “I was working with Magnetic here in town before they closed this location and I moved out west. About a year later, the San Mateo office also closed. When it came time to search for a new job in California, the job postings would boast that the companies had a great culture because they play foosball all the time. But that’s not really indicative of the company culture — that you have a foosball table.”

According to Lee, Ann Arbor’s tech companies define culture differently. “People really believe in the work they’re doing. Everyone I connect with talks about being part of something that contributes to the greater good. The people here are loyal and hardworking. They want their efforts to make a difference in people’s lives. Ann Arbor’s fantastic quality of life is really influenced by the quality of the people who live and work here.”

As he planned his return to Ann Arbor, Ford Motor Company was unveiling a new tech group, FordLabs, in Ann Arbor. “I previously worked with FordLabs founder Andy Brown at the University of Michigan and I knew if he was involved with this new shop, it would be full of people who come to work and deliver their best every day.”

In his free time, Lee enjoys experiencing Ann Arbor through the lens of a camera. “My approach to photography and engineering are similar. First, I assess the situation. Next, I look at all the angles and seek that unique perspective for the best results. Finally, I look at the details, and that essentially determines my course of action.”

Lee is one of thirteen regional leaders and visionaries who are taking the stage during the 2019 Tech Talk on June 7. “Participating in Tech Trek and Tech Talk really help tie all facets of our community together. It’s cool to celebrate the innovation going on around here and align the contributions of the tech businesses with the public as a whole.”

Tech Talk and Tech Trek are part of Ann Arbor SPARK’s a2Tech360 program, a multi-day series of events showcasing the region as an area of innovation.

FordLabs is a software incubation group in Ford Smart Mobility LLC. Through the principles of Lean Startup, eXtreme Programming, and Human-Centered Design, FordLabs teams live the build-measure-learn cycle to ship working, tested software at market speed.