Ad Astra Technology Summit Promises Unique Experience in Wichita

Ad Astra Technology Summit promises unique experience in Wichita

By   –  Reporter, Wichita Business Journal

A statewide technology conference next month in Wichita is swinging for the fences.

The Ad Astra Technology Summit, being hosted by, is slated for Sept. 12 — with organizers promising a daylong event intentionally designed to educate, inspire and impress. 

“It’s really hitting on all key points of our mission,” says Amanda Duncan, a board member of the locally based technology council and vice president of the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas. 

And, organizers say, they hope attendees leave feeling like they attended much more than just a conference. 

Bolstering that feeling will start, they believe, with the format of the event. 

“Some of this is strategic and some of it is just being wise,” said Luis Rodriguez, chairman of FlagshipKansas and president of Keycentrix. 

The Ad Astra Technology Summit will kick off at Riverfront Stadium in downtown Wichita and feature a keynote address from home plate. 

That speaker, newly announced this week, will be Trevor McKeeman, founder of HitchPin — a digital marketplace for the agricultural industry (think Uber meets eBay for farmers and ranchers) based in Manhattan.

Rodriguez says McKeeman, who founded the startup in 2019, was often told by investors that the business would be better off in another state. 

But, in keeping with the Kansas-first technology mission of FlagshipKansas, McKeeman has proved them wrong and has grown the business substantially from its home on the prairie. 

“His story is that he chose Kansas,” Rodriguez said. “And he is very passionate about Kansas.” 

Following the start at the downtown stadium, participants will move via party buses to separate locations for specific breakout sessions that best fit attendees. 

The session for educators will meet at the Kansas Leadership Center, 325 E. Douglas, while a workforce development session will meet at The Vail, at 210 N. Mosley. 

A third track, one for businesses and entrepreneurs, will meet at Distillery 244, 244 N. Mosley. 

While the latter two groups will be close enough for attendees to bounce back and forth, the educators meeting at KLC have been a special focus of event organizers in 2022. 

Rodriguez says the goal is to provide them with resources and information they can take back to their schools — armed with the confidence that the technology industry in Kansas sees their frontline value in training the next generation of technology workers. 

“We want to lift up the teachers when they come,” Rodriguez said. “We’re saying the future of the world are these jobs.”

Educators can also receive continuing education credit for attending the conference.

Following the breakout sessions, attendees will return to Riverfront Stadium. Ashley Scheideman, executive director of FlagshipKansas, says the day’s travels are also designed to show off Wichita to participants expected from across the state. 

The afternoon will include an award ceremony that will honor a startup, innovator, visionary and educator of the year.

In addition to food and complimentary gifts like T-shirts throughout the day, the event will also close with a happy hour where organizers hope connections are made that can help drive technology initiatives in Kansas. 

“We didn’t want to isolate the groups,” said FlagshipKansas board member Megan Harper, director of marketing and sales for Twin Valley and SKT. “We want to make sure they still have the networking opportunity.” 

Early attendees will also be invited to attend the final Wind Surge home baseball game the day before the event.

Registration for the Ad Astra Technology Summit is available online.

The cost is $45 for general attendees and $35 for educators — a price kept intentionally low, Rodriguez says, thanks to the help nearly 20 event sponsors and FlagshipKansas members. 

Special accommodations are also available through the event partner, the Hotel at Old Town. 

Organizers are expecting around 300 attendees but, Rodriguez adds, spots are filling in fast as the day approaches. 

“Don’t do the Kansas-procrastination thing,” he warns. “Because others aren’t.” 

Kansas has always been “quietly good” at technology, Rodriguez says. His hope is that the conference helps turn up the volume. 

“It’s showing the world that Kansas has a piece of the technology sector in a big and bold way,” he said.