On the Care and Feeding of Tomorrow’s Engineers

 I’ve said it before, but one of the great things about my job is seeing the many ways in which people combine their imagination and expertise to create some pretty amazing stuff – inside and outside of Microsoft. We saw some great examples coming out of MIX this week, and I had a close-up look at some other prime examples during Imagine Cup the last few weeks.

Attaining that level of expertise doesn’t happen overnight, so a couple years ago we started the DreamSpark program. DreamSpark gives high school and college students free access to professional–level developer and design tools – such as Visual Studio 2010, Expression Studio and the Robotics Development Studio. Altogether, there are about 16 different Microsoft products available and they’re all the full function versions – not stripped down or trial versions.

As well as the software, DreamSpark offers free ebooks and up to 22 hours of free e-learning courses, so students don’t have to rely on osmosis or instinct when they start using the products. Ultimately, the idea is that students get hands-on experience in math, science, engineering, technology and technical design. Along the way, we hope they’ll discover their true potential and hopefully pursue a career in one of these areas – if they haven’t decided to do so already.

Imagine Cup reminded me what’s possible when you combine creative minds with the capaility of technology and ideas that can change the world happen. So whether you’re a student, teacher, professor, high school principal, college administrator – even the parent of a high school-aged student, I’d encourage you to take a look at DreamSpark.