Year in Review: 2016 in Civic Tech

| MSFT Chicago Staff


What a year 2016 was! From implementing computer science as a graduation requirement in Chicago’s schools to the Cubs winning a world series, we’ve stayed on our toes as new, exciting things continue to transform our community.

A look back at an amazing year on the Microsoft Chicago Blog:


Big Shoulders: Billy Banks, Associate Director of The Garage at Northwestern University

Academic accelerators are the next big thing and Northwestern University is jumping on the band wagon with the creation of The Garage. Billy Banks, Associate Director of The Garage at Northwestern University, discussed with Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman this venture in inspiring students and professors to explore entrepreneurship.

Kevin Wei_FellowFellow Profile: Kevin Wei

Every year, we gain an incredible cohort of civic technology fellows who inspire us through their hard work and dedication to utilize technology in local government and community applications. With each step forward our fellows make, we help make Chicago more interconnected through technology. Meet one of them, Kevin Wei.


10Voices Of Change — #LookUp! Space is Freaking Awesome
Michelle B. Larson, President and CEO, Adler Planetarium 

Diversity and inclusion are critical underpinnings to our evolving culture at Microsoft and powerful bridges to the marketplace. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we were honored to celebrate women in our community who are carrying out the mission of civic engagement, leadership and empowering other women. One of those women is Michelle B. Larson, President and CEO at Adler Planetarium.


Opti_UChicago_Illustration1Opti RTC: Managing Sustainability at UChicago

Our Azure partner Opti uses new technology approaches to managing stormwater and sewage runoff. Through smart green infrastructure monitoring, Opti has built a new monitoring system at UChicago that gathers data on water and helps manage runoff for better infrastructure.

How the Internet of Things can Prevent Bullying
Shelley Stern Grach

As part of our ongoing partnership with Lake View High School, an Early College STEM School in Chicago, Microsoft supports the Illinois Science & Technology Institute’s STEM Challenge, where students at 19 Illinois high schools address real-world problems in partnership with 10 industry and academic partners. While at one of their brainstorming mentoring sessions, Shelley Stern Grach met with students using IoT to combat bullying.


ITKAN teams up with Microsoft and Directions to deliver SQL Server/Business Intelligence training!
Adam Hecktman and Pat Maher

ITKAN, a professional organization affiliated with the Illinois Technology Foundation, whose mission is to develop passionate IT professionals with disabilities, partnered with Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Engagement team in Chicago, as well as Directions – a nationwide leader in IT, business and enterprise training solutions and one of only 12 Microsoft Gold Managed Learning partners – to train and secure professional positions for a class of (6) ITKAN members.

Mayor's Office for People With DisabilitiesMaking Chicago The Most Accessible City in the Nation
Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)

“Making Chicago The Most Accessible City in the Nation” is the tag line and mission of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) where Karen Tamley serves as Commissioner. She highlighted MOPD’s work and took time reflect on how far our city, our nation and her life experience has changed for the better.


CaptureIntroducing the DigiSeniors Program
Kevin Wei, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

The Microsoft Chicago Civic Engagement and Retail Store teams were hard at work with the leading individuals and agencies of the City of Chicago to develop a curriculum to help senior citizens get the basic digital skills, access and safety knowledge that they need to keep up with the ever-evolving technology world. After nearly a year’s worth of development, feedback, pilot sessions, Microsoft Chicago was happy to announce the launch of the DigiSeniors curriculum.

PowerBI Visualization: Community takes Commitment
Ivoire Morrell, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

In the first of a three-part series on Detroit Crime statistics, causes and potential solutions, Microsoft’s Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell shared a powerful story of the history, economic impact and future narratives of Detroit’s most economically depressed communities. It is our hope that by shining a spotlight on the raw data, and illustrating the impact on Detroiters, that we can together build a stronger future.


ew_incubatorUncovering Advanced Science, Technology, and Startups at the University of Illinois Research Park
Adam J. Hecktman

Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman toured University of Illinois Research Park, where both enterprise companies and startups bask in the glow of advanced science and research. Laura Freichs, the Director of Research Park, guided him on a tour and meeting with researchers.


2016-11-11The Character of the American Veteran: My Project RELO Experience
Adam J. Hecktman

Project RELO is a non-profit that brings business leaders together with veterans on a multi-day series of “missions” on a military base. For a short three days, business leaders live what can only be described as a glimpse of the military experience. Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman attended and witnessed the kind of deep professional education, personal development, character building and intellectual challenges that have defined their military careers.

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: PJ Karafiol, Interim Principal at Lake View High School

As part of our commitment to STEM and technology, we’re thankful to partner with local schools in Chicago that are embracing technology in their curricula and day-to-day processes. One of these schools is Lake View High School (LVHS), one of Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools, which enables students to earn both a high school diploma and college credits. Microsoft Chicago’s Shelley Stern Grach sat down with PJ Karafiol, Lake View High School’s newest interim principal.


python-sh-600x600Learning Python to Celebrate #CSEdWeek
Adam J. Hecktman

The goal of the annual Computer Science Education Week is primarily to inspire students to take the time to learn about computer science, specifically coding. Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman celebrated Computer Science Education Week this year by diving in deep himself and took on the challenge to learn to code with Python.

Thank you to all who joined us in sharing the important stories that shape our community. Let’s work together for an incredible 2017.

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