How refugees enrich their new homes with hope, resilience and grit

Former refugee and Mercy Corps worker Farhad Agajan poses with arms crossed at a refugee camp in Greece

The house was empty when he got home from school one afternoon. Eight-year-old Farhad Agajan wandered out to ask if any neighbors had seen his mother or siblings. Crying and increasingly frantic, he reached the home of a relative who lived nearby and heard the words that changed him forever: “He gave me some money, and he told me, ‘Your life is in danger. Take this and leave, immediately,’” Agajan … Read more »

Motor City style meets Microsoft tech at Detroit Wallpaper Company

“Wallpaper, huh?” That’s the question many people asked Andi Kubacki and Josh Young at their first design trade show, in the spring of 2013. The reaction was understandable. Maligned for its frumpy patterns and agonizing adhesives, wallpaper was long relegated to the décor dustbin. But a new generation is discovering wallpaper, and Kubacki and Young are at the vanguard of its revival. The Detroit Wallpaper Company, which they co-founded, specializes … Read more »

Fusionist Asta Roseway’s bold vision for the future of design, tech – and just about everything else

Researcher and fusionist Asta Roseway is pictured in an illustrated landscape featuring stylized flowers, a mountain range and a starry night sky

FoodFutures, an exhibition addressing food production needs in the year 2050, melds the seemingly strange bedfellows of urban farming, machine learning, research engineering and design. Its self-sustaining hydroponic and aquaponic farm modules use computer vision analysis to maximize efficient yield and crop health. The retro-futurist aesthetics nod to 2050 while remaining approachable and inspiring discussion about the challenges of feeding a world facing increasing climate change and urbanization. “The project … Read more »

Talking DevOps, hardcore air hockey and more with Donovan Brown

Spoof movie poster for "The Man in the Black Shirt" starring Donovan Brown

Donovan Brown was a new technical seller at Microsoft struggling with a demo when he sent the email that changed his life. “I had completely hosed the VM [virtual machine] I was using,” Brown recalled. He sent a desperate, cold-call email to a technical evangelist for help, which led to an invite for Brown to demo on stage, which led to a meteoric career rise. Three years later, the once-unknown … Read more »

How six scrappy young inventors built a breakthrough text-to-Braille translator device

The six members of Team Tactile stand side by side

A group of engineering students knew exactly what they wanted to build at a student technology competition, and they had just 15 hours to do it. As they worked furiously alongside other MIT students, the young women hit a series of snags. They had to wait in long lines to use the 3D printer and laser cutter they needed to shape various parts for their project. Some of the supplies … Read more »

How indie game creators are leveling up creativity at Xbox

Katie Stone Perez sits on a sofa surrounded by mementos in her office on Microsoft's Redmond campus

Katie Stone Perez brims over with excitement when talking about Xbox games. All Xbox games. Today the senior program manager for Microsoft’s independent developer program, ID@Xbox, is particularly enthused about “The Hole Story,” a new game about a budding young archaeologist named Wendy who digs in her backyard and discovers a portal to a strange land. The game, written and prototyped by a group of high school students, was selected … Read more »

How London startup SAM Labs is making the Internet of Things into everybody’s thing

There are some 10 billion hardware devices connected to the Internet today. By 2020, this Internet of Things will power over 50 billion connected cars, dog collars, toothbrushes and pretty much anything else you can imagine. But while it’s now easier than ever for people to use or even create new software, innovative hardware design has remained a distant frontier, accessible only to trained engineers and the most diehard of … Read more »

Microsoft hiring program opens more doors to people with autism

Kyle Schwaneke came to Microsoft through a unique hiring program for candidates with autism.

Kyle Schwaneke’s bank account was approaching empty. He’d been unemployed for a year and a half, since the indie game studio he’d been working for shut its doors. His parents, looking for ways to help while he job hunted, had paid the remainder of his apartment lease, but he’d reached the end of that, too. “I interviewed at a bunch of companies, but really didn’t have any luck. Sometimes, I … Read more »

How rising star Vidya Srinivasan launched her career at Microsoft

In 2010, Vidya Srinivasan canceled Christmas. A computer science graduate student at North Carolina State University by way of Chennai, India, she had scored an unexpected internship interview with Microsoft in Seattle. “I canceled my vacation,” she said. “I reached out to all the Microsoft connections I could possibly find. I spent my Christmas with books, because I really wanted to nail that interview.” And she did. Three years into … Read more »

Microsoft Australia’s Pip Marlow talks feminism, ‘Mad Max’ and the path to a more equal workplace

It pleases me to say that I was the first person to tell Pip Marlow about the blockbuster film “Mad Max: Fury Road.” “I haven’t seen it, to be honest,” she said. “But I saw the original ‘Mad Max,’ years ago.” Presented with such an opportunity—to waste the time of the executive in charge of Microsoft’s overall business in Australia with a hardcore geek’s synopsis of a post-apocalyptic action movie—one … Read more »