March 2011

DigiGirlz invades NERD

On Friday March 18th, NERD welcomed over 250 high school girls for the annual DigiGirlz Conference. DigiGirlz is a nationwide program that gives teenage girls the opportunity to learn about STEM based careers through workshops and lectures.

The day started off with a speech by Alyssa Goodman, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, who exposed students to the types of careers that they could pursue in STEM. As the day continued the girls got to attend a variety of sessions which included:

  • Creating a Digital World with Kodu, where they built their own virtual world
  • CS Unplugged, which helped them learn about technology away from the computer
  • PicoCricket from the Museum of Science, which enabled students to create their own electronic inventions
  • Internet Safety, where students discussed online safety issues
  • Artbotics, where they met Nick, a robotic piece of art, from The Revolving Museum.

One of the more popular segments of the day was the Future Career Panel, where students got to learn about four distinctly different career tracks from local young professionals. These women spoke about the use of technology in nursing, veterinary medicine, digital fashion, and game design.

Lastly, students were able to learn about how they could get involved in STEM, outside the classroom, by participating in high school internship programs at Microsoft and other tech companies in the area.

The day was concluded with a raffle drawing where one lucky student won an Xbox Arcade gaming package.

“The program gets better every year, especially with continued help from our community partners. It’s inspiring to see these young women unleash their creativity once they are given an opportunity to innovate using technology. I think it’s important to dispel many of the myths of careers in technology, and connecting the girls with potential role models in the industry is a great way to get them started. “
Edwin Guarin, Senior Academic Evangelist, Microsoft

A total of 31, public and private, schools were represented at this year’s conference. Those having the biggest turnout were J.D. O’Bryant, AMSA, and Charlestown High. Microsoft NERD has hosted a DigiGirlz conference every year since its opening and we look forward to welcoming the girls back next spring!

P.S. Our district sales office based in Waltham also organized a DigiGirlz day. Click here to read the event recap.

Edwin Guarin kicks off the DigiGirlz career panel discussion

A local professional leads a DigiGirlz career track

Hands on DigiGirlz workshop in progress

PAX East II Kicks off at NERD

Before I get to PAX, I wanted to start off by introducing myself. My name is Kayt Racz and I am a new Marketing Specialist at NERD. My role is to help coordinate and market the events that happen at NERD every day. This includes helping to put together events, such as the PAX East “Made in MA” party, as well as thinking of new ways to generate awareness about all of the exciting events happening at NERD. I started this position about a month ago and it has proved everything that I wanted it to be—fast paced and challenging. I hope to get a chance to meet all of you who read the blog as you will see posts from me frequently! Now back to the subject—PAX East.

Guests enjoy Dance Central for Kinect

Over 1,000 people gathered at NERD last Thursday to celebrate the vibrant Massachusetts gaming industry. In partnership with Mass TLC, we hosted a three hour “Made in MA” party, which included more than 30 gaming companies—all of which call Massachusetts home. Major Nelson, Microsoft’s Xbox Live personality, also made an appearance and guests enjoyed Dance Central “Dance Off” on our 16 foot projection screen.

The “Made in MA” party kicked off a three day gaming stretch as this past weekend was the second annual PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) East Conference. PAX East, which started with PAX Prime on the West Coast in Seattle, is a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. Visitors come together from all over the U.S. to attend tournaments, free-play areas, concerts, panel discussions, and an exhibitor hall filled with booths displaying the latest from the top game publishers and developers.

The party also served as sneak preview of PAX East. Game-fanatics were able to mingle with creators of their favorite games, as well as network with their peers. Some of the products that were featured include: FireHose Games’ new Slam Bolt Scrappers, The Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine, and Kinect for Xbox 360 along with the top selling game Dance Central, developed by Cambridge-based video game company, Harmonix.

Major Nelson cuts the official "MadeInMA" cake

Major Nelson welcomed the crowd along with Steve Charkoudian, Partner at Goodwin Proctor, Dr. Robert Johnson, President of Becker College, and Eric Nakajima, Senior Innovation Advisor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Following the event, President and CEO of Mass TLC, Tom Hopcroft said:

“The PAX “Made in MA” party was a terrific way to kick-off a weekend of activities for the digital gaming industry.  Based on the level of participation and enthusiasm at the party, the games industry is a thriving community and one that should not be overlooked when considering growth opportunities in the State.  We had more than 30 local companies, universities, politicians and industry execs participating at the NERD Center with more than 1,000 fans from across the country.  Microsoft and our sponsors stepped up again to support the community and create a high-energy event that showed the industry all that Massachusetts has to offer.”

We couldn’t agree more. The year’s “Made in MA” party was a blast and we cannot wait to begin planning for the 2012 PAX East “Made in MA” party.

Click here to view more photos.

Microsoft Celebrates Women’s History Month!


As you may know, March is Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate women, learn about their impact and simply connect.  Throughout the month of March, we’ll be hosting a series of programs and activities to fuel collaboration and networking among the female tech and business community. 

Below is a listing of the variety of activities we have planned throughout the month. We hope you can join us in the festivities!

International Women’s Day Mixer
March 8, 2011, 6-8pm
NERD Center

Join us for a special mixer to celebrate International Women’s Day and kick off Women’s History Month!
• Hear from Karin Daly, CMO, Philips Healthcare about the future of women in technology
• Learn about local women in tech organizations, including Women Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (WEST) ,The Capital Network (TCN) , Geek Girl Camp and how you can get involved
• Mix and mingle with leading women in the tech and business community

Refreshments will be served.

Women’s History Month Coffee Hour Program, featuring Angie Anderson, Partner Product Unit Manager, Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)
Every Thursday in March, effective March 10, 2011, 9-10am
Voltage Coffee & Art
295 3rd Street, Kendall Square

What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than with some women who’ve made history of their own? Join Microsoft, MITX and the new Kendall Square coffeehouse, Voltage Coffee & Artfor a unique series featuring female leaders from the tech and startup community. Our first speaker will feature Angie Anderson, Partner Product Unit Manager, App-V. 

Other featured speakers:
• March 17, 2011: Debi Kleiman, President, MITX
• March 24, 2011: Suzanne Bump, Massachusetts State Auditor
• March 31, 2011: Elisabeth Bentel Carpenter, SVP Global Support & Services, Brightcove 

Microsoft will fully match all coffee sales from this series with a donation to Science Club for Girls, a Cambridge-based organization committed to increasing K-12 girls’ confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Microsoft DigiGirlz
March 18, 2011, 8am-3pm
NERD Center

Join us in supporting high school girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Microsoft employees and leaders from the industry will provide girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises and Microsoft product demonstrations.  Please share this special program with aspiring girls in your network!

Healthworks Women in Tech Fitness Class
March 29, 2011, 3-5pm
NERD Center

Join Healthworks, a fitness center committed to women and NERD in a special fitness class. Program will feature some of the leading instructors in the area who will discuss healthy eating and how technology can support your fitness goals.

Be sure to check out to see the full Women’s History Month lineup.  You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #NERDWHM.

We look forward to seeing you at some of the events throughout the month!