April 2015

RECAP: MIT Hacking Medicine’s Grand Hack

What can you create to make medicine better? Can you combine existing technologies to track your insulin? Can your wearable check your vitals and remind you to take your prescription?

RECAP: Mit Hacking Medicine's Grand Hack

This weekend, MIT Hacking Medicine‘s Grand Hack, one of the largest health hackathons in the world, sought to answer those questions. Microsoft was pleased to sponsor the Grand Hack, hosting the “Wearables” track — inspiring participants to create wearable technology for the sake of health using the Microsoft Band, the Myo EMG Band, and the Jawbone UP.

Some of the highlights of the weekend:

Learn more about MIT Hacking Medicine and the Grand Hack here.

Social Innovation Forum Branches Out

Social Innovation Forum Branches OutSocial ventures are a phenomenal model for economic growth in Boston – organizations that are not only creating jobs and earning revenue but also doing good at the same time. The Social Innovation Forum has introduced me to some very creative social ventures, such as:

  • InnerCity Weightlifting, an organization using fitness training as a tool to reduce violence and promote professional, personal and academic achievement among urban youth, empowering young people with the confidence to say no to violence and yes to opportunity.
  • Catie’s Closet, which improves school attendance by providing clothing and basic necessities to students living in poverty in MA and NH
  • Company One Theatre, aimed to change the face of Boston theatre by uniting the city’s diverse communities through innovative, socially provocative performance and developing civically engaged artists.
  • GRLZradio, an after-school and summer program that gives girls from Boston the opportunity to learn radio technology and communication skills, and spread the message of possibility rather than despair; respect rather than abuse.

As we support other social ventures, we have been proud to support Root Cause, it’s Social Innovation Forum and the dozens of non-profits that have gone through their outstanding program throughout the last 12 years. Recently, the Social Innovation Forum announced that it will be branching out from its parent organization, Root Cause, to begin a new chapter. We couldn’t be more excited to see this program grow further.

RootCause was originally founded in 2003 with the objective of improving social problem solving.  The organization has worked with other organizations in a variety of social service sectors, including economic empowerment, education and youth development, and health & well-being.  RootCause works with the public and private sectors to develop solutions for today’s social issues by providing guidance on making the right choice when it comes to investing.

The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) was one of RootCauses first initiatives.  Since it started in 2004, SIF has donated over $20 million in cash and support to Social Innovators and Impact Entrepreneurs.  SIF annually selects 5-8 early-stage nonprofits (Social Innovators) and 4-8 for-profit and hybrid organizations (Impact Entrepreneurs) to take part in an intensive due-diligence course. SIF brings together over 1,500 philanthropists, investors and others with the goal of growing these organization that address social issues.

The Social Innovation Forum will become a separate organization over the course of this year, staying true to its original mission. Susan Musinksy will assume the position of Executive Director and Katie Barnett, SIF’s current Associate Director will also aid in the transition.

Learn more about the Social Innovation Forum:

Every ‘Today’ is Earth Day

einc_logoLast week we celebrated Earth Day. Every April 22 we have an opportunity to show support for our beautiful earth. People all around the globe pick up trash, plant trees, help animals that have been affected by pollution and raise awareness about the realities of climate change. Each year over 192 countries participate in this pro-environment day. But Earth Day is over and it will not be with us again for another whole year. The thing is, the earth needs us every day of the year. So, what are some things we can all do to help the earth in little ways every day?

We are “e” inc. “e” for Environment, “e” for Energy, “e” for Earth. We are an environmental science non-profit that brings the science of the planet to 6500 children each year. We lead action programs in multiple school districts helping students create and maintain projects to help protect the planet.


(L-R) The “e” inc. team in their education space in Charlestown, MA | Students at West Somerville Neighborhood School learning about the Web of Life with one of our “e” inc. educators | Fletcher Maynard Academy, in Cambridge, is one of the many schools who participate in “e” inc. programming

Here are some wonderful ideas that the students from “e” inc. are sending your way in order to help you make every day Earth Day. Every small thing you do as a Planet Protector adds up to a big change:




Planet Protector



Save Energy


Jen Hagen is an “e” inc. action educator. To learn more about “e” inc., head to their website.

Museum of Science Names Microsoft 2015 Star of STEM

Last week, we had the wonderful honor of being hosted by the Museum of Science for The Science Behind, an event honoring science in our community. The Science Behind was a night filled with great food, great guests, networking, and interactive experiences. Best of all, Microsoft was awarded with one of the Museum of Science‘s top honors — the annual Star of STEM award. We are thankful to be recognized for our commitment to STEM Education and are incredibly grateful to the Museum of Science for this award.

See our video feature via the Museum of Science below:

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Microsoft New England Picks: 6 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Microsoft Events-feature

What did we tell you — the weather has finally improved and Spring is in full bloom! And so are our calendars! Here are our top picks for can’t-miss events this week.

StartupML1) Next.ML — Machine Learning Workshops & Case Studies
Monday, April 27, 10am – 9pm

@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @startupml #NextML

There are over 11 million professional software developers according to this IDC Study. They write complicated, brittle code using a declarative approach that often fails to recognize the complexity of user behavior. Next.ML is an all day event that brings together leading machine learning engineers from industry and academia to kick off the transition from the declarative era of software development to the probabilistic era of software development. Be sure to catch talks by Microsoft Research’s Alekh Agarwal, our own principal Development Lead for modules in the Microsoft Azure ML Studio team here in Cambridge, Sudarshan Raghunathan, and Principal Software Dev Manager, Machine Learning, Sachin Chouksey!

TEALS2) TEALS Volunteer Information Session
Tuesday, April 28, 7:00pm – 8:00pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge | 1st Floor – “Deborah Sampson and Thomas Paul” room
Twitter: @MSNewEngland #TEALS #YouthSpark

Are you an engineer, software developer or programmer and interested in providing opportunities for young people to learn computer science? Local schools need your expertise to help them jump start and build sustainable computer science programs by volunteering as part of TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), a volunteer movement supported by Microsoft to bring computer science education to every high school in the U.S.

Learn about how to help a high school start teaching computer science. Presentation starts a 7:00pm with Q&A to follow. Light dinner provided. (Free) Registration through EventBrite required.

14280807783) Talent Hackers Boston – Tech Recruitment
Tuesday, April 28, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge

Twitter: @TalentHackers

Whether you’re a founder, work in a startup or an in-house recruiter you have one thing in common. You all know that hiring tech talent is tough. Really tough.

So at this Talent Hackers event, we’ll talk about:
– Where you can find tech talent
– How you can attract the best talent
– How to hire the best tech talent
– How to retain your talent

The panel will share tips and tricks so you can learn from people who have done it before and, importantly, are still doing it now.
We encourage you to ask questions, and share your own answers and experiences too. We know there is great insight and advice waiting to be tapped in the audience and we want to squeeze all that knowledge out at this event.


Justin Souders, Sr. Tech Recruiter @ Constant Contact
Vikki Hyer, Director of Talent @ Nanigans
Jason Azocar, Sr. Tech Recruiter @ HubSpot
Chris Smedile, Sr. Global Talent Acquisition Consulant

KSA4) Kendall Non-Profit Volunteer Fair
Wednesday, April 29, 11:00am – 2:00pm
@ The Atrium @ 100 Technology Square | During Winter Farmers Market
Twitter: @kendallnow

The Kendall Square Association and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. host a Non-Profit Volunteer Fair for employees and residents in the Kendall Square area who are looking to give back. Meet and greet with non-profits from across Cambridge that have volunteer opportunities available right now! Find ways to match your skills and passions with their missions and connect with others in Kendall interested in meaningful volunteer work. Cambridge has a wide array of extremely active non-profits that are serving and supporting the community, including our young people, for the 21st century. Kendall Square is one of the most innovative places on the planet and it’s time to put our brightest minds to work improving the City we call home! RSVP below. (Walk-ins welcome!)

lWcBfi9e5) TiE Startup Con
Friday, May 1, 7:30am – 9:00pm
@ Cambridge Marriott | 50 Broadway | Cambridge
Twitter: @tieboston #TieStartupCon

TiE-Boston has a nearly two decades-long tradition of fostering entrepreneurship in Massachusetts. There’s no better demonstration of this mission than TiE-Boston’s annual conference. This year’s conference, puts “startups” at the core of the event, as the organization seeks to help early-stage entrepreneurs along their journey to launch and build their own companies. With upwards of 600 annual attendees, the conference boasts three tracks focusing on the “Entrepreneur’s Journey”, “Tales from the Startup Trenches”, along with traditional insight into “What’s Hot in Tech and Pharma in 2015″.

In addition, the TiE Sharks event provides several companies with the opportunity to negotiate with some of Boston’s top angel investors for access to valuable capital. All in all, the tradition of mentorship and advice from some of the industry’s most successful and influential entrepreneurs serves as a foundation for TiE StartupCon’s 2015 theme of “Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs.”

Technovation6) Technovation 2015: Regional Pitch Night & Showcase
Friday, May 1, 5:00pm – 12:00am
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @technovation

Come celebrate the locally-made MA apps submitted for the Technovation Challenge!Up to 7 teams will be presenting their pitches, vying for for the local Technovation crown! ALL registered teams are welcome to set up their posterboards and show off their apps prior to the pitch contest. The first hour of the event is devoted to all teams showing off their work in a gallery style presentation! Teachers/coaches can sign up their teams for the gallery when registering.

All teams who take part in the posterboard gallery will be considered in the pre-selection process. The pre-selection process determines which teams will pitch to the judges on the night of the event, but the selections will not be announced until the night of the event.

Microsoft New England Picks: 3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Events-FeatureWe hope you all enjoyed Marathon Monday! Here are our top picks for events this week.

1) CSF-logoCambridge Science Festival
All week  (April 17 – 26)
Various Locations
@CSFtweets | #CambSciFest 

This week is PACKED with awesome events as part of Cambridge Science Festival. Check out our blog post featuring picks from some KSA members. Explore the full schedule of events at cambridgesciencefestival.org.


2) Boston-Coding-CampBoston Coding Camp (Presented By The Young People’s Project and Resilient Coders)
Monday April 20 – Friday April 24, 8:30am – 3:30pm
@ Hack/Reduce, 275 Third St, Cambridge, MA
@resilientcoders | @YPeoplesProject |#boscodingcamp

Students will be taught by tech professionals, and coached along by their peers, as they spend a week building their own websites. During that time, they’ll learn HTML/CSS, pick up Agile/Lean practices. And they’ll meet local tech entrepreneurs and authors. On Friday, April 24, students will present their websites with plans for the “Next Steps”.  Registration for camp is now closed, but you can register for Demo Day.


3) MS-Open (1)Microsoft and DataStax present: Scaling Out Without Flipping Out
Thursday, April 23, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
@ District Hall, 75 Northern Ave, Boston, MA
@DataStax | @Azure

Attendees will get an in-depth introduction to Cassandra and how it’s different from other databases they have probably used, info on how to build an application with the DataStax tools and drivers, and how easy it can be to deploy it all in Azure. For more information or to register, visit: https://aka.ms/MSOpenBoston.


DigiCamp gives 100 New Haven middle-schoolers a chance to find their place in tech

There’s nothing more exciting than opening a young person’s eyes to the amazing potential of technology. That’s why we were thrilled this week to host a three-day DigiCamp experience to give middle-school girls and boys from New Haven a chance to explore technology and show them what careers in tech can look like. The three-day DigiCamp is the first citizenship program to be delivered under a joint digital alliance signed by Microsoft and the City of New Haven in December 2014. With additional support from Southern Connecticut State University, this week’s DigiCamp gave middle-school students a chance to hear from technology professionals, young inventors and current university students — and to get firsthand experience with a range of Microsoft technologies and projects.

It’s estimated that 77 percent of jobs in the next decade will require tech skills, yet only a small percentage of young women are pursuing computer science education to prepare for these jobs. It’s not that girls aren’t interested; 7 of 10 young girls start out with an interest in science and math at an early age. Microsoft is committed to helping keep them interested and to closing the gender gap in the technology industry; that’s why we offer DigiGirlz, to help middle-school and high-school girls learn about what careers in technology can offer them. And we’re committed to helping boys make the most of their academic and professional futures as well, which is why we also hosted a Microsoft YouthSpark camp for boys — the first DigiCamp for boys to be offered by Microsoft on the East Coast.

Tuesday: DigiGirlz

On Tuesday, 50 middle-school girls arrived at SCSU for a day-long session of keynote speeches, breakout workshops, and a chance to play dance games with Xbox One. Tuesday’s session began with a welcome from Mary A. Papazian, president of SCSU, and Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven. Keisha Aye, co-founder and CEO of ManyMentors, gave a keynote address, encouraging the girls to find mentors and have confidence that they’re strong enough to pursue their goals. In the breakout sessions, girls learned about game design, coding, and building an online brand. In the afternoon, Mendi Blue of the City of New Haven moderated a career panel in which Microsoft staff, current students, and Microsoft Connecticut Invention Convention inventors shared their experiences and offered inspiration.







Wednesday: Tours of Microsoft Store and Microsoft offices

Both boys and girls turned out for Wednesday’s tours. In the morning, the girls visited the Microsoft Store at Westfarms Mall in West Hartford, while the boys toured Microsoft’s Hartford office; the groups traded places in the afternoon.

At the Microsoft Store, staff described what a retail career in technology can offer and treated the kids to a personal tour with the chance to try out a number of the devices, such as Surface and Xbox One. At the office, sales director Paul Liss offered the visitors advice on planning for the future. “Study hard,” he told them. “Question authority; read a lot.” He recommended general studies, since “you may not decide what you will do by 17 years old,” but liberal arts, business administration and engineering will offer practical skills for any occupation. Above all, he said, “Don’t limit yourself; every idea is a great idea — it could be the next best thing!”

After some additional Q&A, we showed videos about the Microsoft R&D process and products currently in development. The kids were wowed by the story and the research team behind Microsoft HoloLens and holographics.


Thursday: YouthSpark Live for boys

On Thursday, President Papazian and Mayor Harp welcomed the boys for their turn at a day exploring coding, game development and online brand creation. Matthew Harmon, a Brown University grad who is finishing a Ph.D. in materials science at the University of Connecticut at Storrs before heading to Howard University Medical School, talked about how engineering and orthopedic surgery connect to bring new possibilities to medicine and healthcare.


Microsoft is committed to partnering with educational and civic organizations to help bring young people into technology careers. This week’s DigiCamp gave us the chance to show 100 middle-schoolers that not only do they have a future in technology, they have a whole community of people who are eager to help them get there.

Microsoft and City Year: A Shared Belief in the Power of Young People

Microsoft and City Year: A Shared Belief in the Power of Young People

City Year’s founding was fueled by the energy, ideas and resources of the private sector. Today City Year is a public private partnership—supported by grants from the Corporation for National and Community service, school district partnerships, and private philanthropy from individuals and families, foundations, and corporations. Our corporate partners continue to play a critical role in City Year’s ability to help students and schools succeed, and Microsoft is at the heart of this work.

City Year recruits talented, idealistic young adults for a year of full-time service in urban, high-poverty schools to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members partner with public schools to directly support academic achievement and student engagement in and outside of the classroom—tutoring students one-on-one, serving as an additional resource for teachers, and leading after school programs and school wide initiatives to improve student achievement and build a positive school culture.

We are proud that Microsoft has been partnering with us on this work for more than 15 years. Just like Microsoft, we seek to achieve results that are supported by data. It is because of these results that we know that we are making a difference. Our corps provides our students and schools multiple, consecutive years of support to help students catch up and keep up. We’re helping to accelerate student learning. For example, City Year analyzed national Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data, and found that last year students City Year worked with in grades 3-9 had an average growth rate of 1.4 times what was expected in literacy and math. This would not have been possible without the commitment of sponsors including Microsoft, one of our original in-kind partners.

Microsoft began partnering with City Year in 1999, generously donating $5 million in software and helping to build the foundation of our organization. Since then, Microsoft has invested directly in our work in high-need schools. To date, Microsoft has donated more than $23.4 million through financial funding and in-kind support. Through the YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft invests in two areas of our work, the schools and our mathematics curriculum. It supports City Year AmeriCorps teams serving in four schools in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago and Seattle. Every team Microsoft sponsors is part of the Diplomas Now collaboration among City Year, Johns Hopkins Talent Development and Communities In Schools, which is helping to turn around some of the nation’s most troubled schools. Microsoft’s support helped generate improved results in student attendance and course performance, in addition to providing engaging service opportunities for Microsoft employees.

The company has also invested in City Year’s mathematics curriculum, helping our program team build a research-based instructional framework and provide professional development trainings for corps members. As a result, the number of students who will receive math interventions will increase from 8,500 to 14,000 during the 2014-2015 school year. This year, Microsoft armed these teams with Surface tablets to help support these crucial math initiatives.

Microsoft’s support makes so much possible. It helps us to deepen our impact, scale our work, strengthen our math program, and produce remarkable results for the children and communities we both serve.

We couldn’t agree more with Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft’s General Manager of Citizenship and Public Affairs: “Our future success as a society, across the U.S. and throughout the world, will largely depend on the knowledge and capacity of today’s youth to drive innovation and address increasingly complex global challenges. An investment in youth reflects our belief in the potential and promise of the world’s 1.4 billion young people.”


Microsoft and City Year A Shared Belief in the Power of Young PeopleMichael Brown is CEO and Co-Founder of City Year, an education-focused nonprofit organization that mobilizes idealistic young people for a year of service in high-need schools​ and promotes the concept of voluntary national service as means of building a stronger democracy.​

This year 2,800 City Year AmeriCorps members are helping to address the nation’s high school dropout crisis and turnaround low performing schools by serving as full-time tutors, mentors and role models in high-need schools in 25 U.S. cities. City Year also has affiliates in South Africa and the UK. Through its national initiative, “In School and On Track: A National Challenge,” City Year aims to significantly increase the urban graduation pipeline in America. 

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Museum of Science: The Science Behind – Featured Demos

MOS demos

Whether you attended the A-MAZ-ING Science Behind event last night at the Museum of Science or not, here is some additional information about the demos we shared at the event:

Bring your data to life

Insights are hiding in your organization’s data – see the impact of bringing them into focus with Power BI (Business Intelligence).

Skype Translator Preview

Breaking the language barrier one conversation at a time.

Xbox One Experience

Challenge your friends to a dance party or virtual sporting event. With Kinect–YOU are the controller!

Roaming Robot Photographer

Powered by Kinect, the roaming robot was snapping photos of MOS guests all night!

Interactive Technology & the Museum of Science: Interview with Marc Check

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.37.49 AM

For almost 10 years, I have worked on Microsoft’s partnership with the Museum of Science. Over the years the Museum has been able to utilize over $4M in software grants from Microsoft thanks to an amazing VP for Information and Interactive Technology – Marc Check. Since he began working at the Museum in 2010, Marc has truly transformed the way the MOS leverages technology to both run the museum and integrate into exhibits. We are so lucky to have an amazing partner at the MOS to ensure our software will empower students as they learn about science and technology. Thanks Marc!

I sat down with Marc to learn more about his role and he shared some of his recent work at the Museum.

What is your role at the museum?

Associate Vice President, Information and Interactive Technology.  My department consists of “classic” Information Technology (helpdesk technicians, systems administrators, database administrators, network engineers, etc.) as well as Interactive Media (Web Developers, Interactive and Game Developers, UX Designers, etc.)

In my role, I am responsible for strategy concerning all digital technology-related endeavors, from IT Infrastructure planning and evolution to public-facing, experiential technologies, including digital-based exhibit components, web platforms, and other technologies including mobile and location-awareness.  A large part of my role also involves a great deal of relationship-building and collaboration with various outside entities, such as Microsoft, to ensure the Museum of Science has a constant pool of expertise and inspiration to draw from.

What is the role of technology at the museum?

We are constantly learning and redefining the role of technology at the museum. We have been increasingly using digital platforms in our exhibits, and in some cases have developed interconnected experiences using digital technology, such as in the Hall of Human LifeThe Science of Pixar, which will be launching in June, is another technology-driven exhibit that uses a great deal of interactive media as the primary medium for interpreting the science concepts behind digital filmmaking.  Aside from in-exhibit technologies, however, we are experimenting with and iterating other applications that expand well beyond the exhibit hall walls, connecting content and experiences across the different exhibits.  In the building we have been testing and are continuing to experiment with technologies such as location awareness of mobile devices and augmented reality.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 8.31.27 AM

The museum is a big advocate for STEM education. How can we encourage students to pursue STEM careers?

This is an excellent question, and one that is core to our mission.  There are many groups in the Boston area directly dressing this challenge and the Museum of Science has been partners with many of them.  There are many answers to this question, but I would consider the following to be the two most critical challenges we need to address to ensure more students have the opportunity to pursue STEM education:

  1. MOS-Microsoft

    Kids at the Museum of Science experiencing Microsoft Kinect-powered exhibit.

    Rethinking formal education. The unfortunate reality is that very few students in the US even have an opportunity to pursue any serious STEM education until they reach college level.  Computer science, digital literacy, engineering, robotics, and many other stem-related subjects are by and large simply not offered at the K-12 level, and few opportunities exist outside of school to learn about stem-related concepts.  I personally feel that exposure at earlier and earlier ages, and providing opportunities for further exploration of these concepts and subjects is absolutely critical to encourage students to pursue stem education.

  2. Exploration through the lens of personal interests. Too often, STEM is taught as stand-alone concepts.  Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are enormously broad in application and intersect with every other conceivable subject matter a student might find interesting.  Students should be encouraged in these disciplines through other passions and interests such as music, art, sports, writing, and history (to name a few) where STEM becomes a tool to help improve upon or further the primary passion of the student.

In informal education we have a unique opportunity to engage learners in this way, but we have them for a limited window of time and attention.  Increasing the exposure to informal and inspirational learning opportunities in other venues and methods is a great first step in ensuring we have an excited and innovative new generation of STEM professionals.

What is your favorite exhibit at the museum?

Well, this is an honest but slightly embarrassing answer.  While one might expect me to claim one of our newer, more digital-driven exhibits would be my favorite, the truth is my favorite exhibit has no digital technology at all.  The day I decided, beyond doubt, to take the job here at the Museum of Science was the day I sat in the Theater of Electricity witnessing my first Lightning Show.


Tonight the museum is honoring Microsoft at The Science Behind the Stars. Can you describe the impact of our premier partnership?

Microsoft-Star-STEMWe are simply thrilled to be honoring Microsoft at the Science Behind the Stars, and I have personally been amazed with Microsoft’s support and collaboration over the past five years.  Microsoft has been instrumental to our success on many fronts, not the least of which being two successive $4 million+ software donations that have greatly alleviated our IT operating budget and allowed us to allocate resources towards more visitor-facing and creative technologies. Microsoft has not only acted as a philanthropic partner, but has also taken an extremely active role in advising technology strategy at the museum via the creation of a Microsoft advisory group, that we meet with regularly to identify strategic partnerships and leveraging of tools and resources.

What I personally find most beneficial about the Microsoft/MoS relationship is the intangible – the common passion for STEM education and a shared commitment to providing increasingly innovative ways to engage learners of all ages towards STEM.