June 2017

Microsoft Store and B~STEM Host One-Day Only Events

Girls learn STEM atAccording to BestColleges.com, only 6.7 percent of women are graduating with STEM degrees. With this we have a responsibility today to educate and inspire females of all ages to advance our world by pursuing careers in traditionally male dominated industries.

B~STEM Project and Microsoft Store understand this responsibility. B~STEM Project is an organization focused on helping young girls and women to engage, learn and grow within business and STEM-related disciplines across industries. From June 23 – 30, B~STEM will host We Hack Too, an eight-day virtual hackathon. Select Microsoft Store locations are excited to host kick-off events on Friday, June 23, and set everyone up for a week of fun with a Business Development and Design Incubator.

The events will give high school and college women opportunities to collaborate with professional mentors to design products and develop business strategies, while 8 to 12-year-olds will be invited to attend coding and gaming workshops.

These free events will take place in the following store near you:

Each store event will have its own unique theme spanning STEM-related topics including clean energy, gaming, entertainment and digital media, biotechnology and tech startups. To learn more about the topic of the event at your local Microsoft Store and to register for the event, please visit bstemproject.org.

Not located in a city with an event? Microsoft Store offers a range of free programs, year-round that empower youth by providing direct access to technology and hands-on learning. If you haven’t been to a Microsoft Store program yet, take a look at the video below that captures Microsoft Store YouthSpark camp energy and testimonials from real student and parent participants.

To see a full list of available in-store events and programs at your local Microsoft Store visit, Microsoft.com.

Fellow Profile: Emily Sim

Where are you from? Southern California and Seoul, South Korea

School/grad year/major: Tufts University, 2019, Computer Science

Last thing you searched on Bing: How to make hummus from scratch

Why did you choose Microsoft’s fellowship program? Coming from a technical background, I was fascinated by the Technology & Civic Engagement team’s work at a pivotal juncture of two industries. I wanted to explore how technology is being used for public good.

What’s your favorite civic project in the Greater Boston area? nesterly, which is a startup that matches elderly homeowners with younger subletters to provide affordable housing, companionship, and housekeeping.

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for Microsoft New England? I have helped launch the Starthub Boston’s Civic Innovation page by compiling resources, events, startups, investors, and initiatives. Currently, I am creating a dashboard for District Hall’s usage data. Soon, I will be working on integrating the District Hall form input with a database system, revamping the Venture Cafe Foundation website, and doing user research for a project with the MBTA.

What excites you about civic tech? It’s a relatively new field, yet the amount of community engagement the projects have generated is incredible. There is so much potential to drive more folks into taking action to help their towns and neighbors.

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? I hope that more affordable housing is made available in Boston, especially in the more gentrified areas, with partnership between the city, corporations, and caring citizens.

RECAP: New England Machine Learning Day 2017

Seventy researchers, students and professionals recently participated in the New England Machine Learning Hackathon: Hacking Bias in ML. Students traveled predominantly from nearby universities — Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Boston University, Boston College — but also from as far as the University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford.  

Team leaders defined five areas of bias and discrimination in machine learning to address during the Hackathon.

  • Accent Discrimination led by Jay Liu, Microsoft
  • Pre-Trial Fairness, led Sam Corbett-Davies, Stanford
  • Word Biases led by Max Leiserson and Elena Jakubiak, Microsoft Research
  • Visual Biases in Border Patrol Stops led by Genevieve Patterson, Microsoft Research
  • Equity in Higher Education and the Future of Work, led by Sergio Marrero, Caila

In six hours, the teams formed, defined a user, aligned on a solution, built storyboards, and in some cases, developed websites. There was buzz, laughter, and hard work, which may have benefitted from the nearby espresso bar. The winning team, Pre-Trial Fairness, took home Xbox FIFA bundles. The team built a “Challenge the Bias” website to “decipher the biases in current algorithms that help decide bail, sentences and parole of a defendant.” The judges appreciated the clear explanation of the types of data used and ways to increase fairness across gender and race in analyzing the data. Congratulations Sam Corbett-Davies (Stanford), Yaovi Ayeh (Dell EMC), Danielle Dean (Microsoft), Frances Ding (Harvard), Yunxin Fan (Harvard), Anshuman Pandey (CMU), Aditthya Ramakrishnan (Next Tech Lab), Harini Suresh (MIT), Marina S. (community) and Lorenzo Vitale (BU)!

The Word Bias team created a Hacking Bias in Word Choice website. The Accent Team pitched and is building an open repository for under-represented accents which limits the capabilities of voice recognition everywhere. The Visual Bias team highlighted ways to help border patrol agents decrease unconscious biases against those wearing non-normative, less frequently seen outfits. The Equity in Education team brainstormed ways to advance individuals with less traditional educational degrees and training and connecting to jobs they can do today, tomorrow with a bit of work, and in the future with more serious preparation and study.

One grad student after returning to campus wrote, “Thank you for … such an amazing hackathon on a really interesting topic in ML. It was totally worth coming all the way from Pittsburgh to Boston and attend this hackathon.” (It took him and his colleague 18 hours by bus!)

See our Hacking Bias in Machine Learning recap video (2m)  above with comments from our event mentors and judges. Our team mentors were Dr. Adam Kalai (Microsoft Research); Dr. Lester Mackey (Microsoft Research); and one of the judges, Elaine Harris (Hacking Discrimination MIT Alumni organizer and President, Breakthrough Marketing Technology).  In addition to Elaine Harris, our esteemed judging panel included: Dr. Sasha Constanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT; Dr. Stefanie Jegelka, X-Consortium Career Development Assistant Professor at MIT EECS; Jamie MacLennan, Microsoft, Partner Director, Azure Machine Learning; Dr. D. Sculley, Google, Engineering Manager, Machine Learning Team.

The sixth annual New England Machine Learning Day took place on the following day, May 12, 2017.  The event brought together more than 300 local machine learning researchers from over a dozen universities and research institutes. Eight talks were given by notable local academics on a variety of machine learning problems ranging from neural networks to computer vision to social networks.  Thirty-six students presented posters during a lively poster session at lunch.  

The organizing committee comprised:  David Cox (Harvard); Adam Tauman Kalai (Microsoft Research); Ankur Moitra (MIT); and Kate Saenko (Boston University).  The Poster Chairs were Mike Hughes, Harvard University and Genevieve Patterson, Microsoft Research.

One Northeastern graduate student who attended both said, “The hackathon was a great experience for me and I enjoyed every second of it. The New England ML day was also very inspiring. If for any similar event you need a volunteer, please let me know. I’d be more than happy to help and be a part of these great events.”

Stay tuned for next year; planning has begun for our seventh New England Machine Learning Day and second ML Hackathon!

Developers, Designers & Artists — Attend HoloHack Boston 6/21!

Bring holograms to life in your world! Attend HoloHack Boston from June 21 to June 22. Microsoft has partnered with BostonAR to bring you a two-day experience, where you’ll form teams with other experienced AR/VR/MR developers, designers and artists to collaboratively create your next mixed reality experience. Technical resources from the community and engineers from Microsoft and Unity will be on-site along with HoloLens and developer devices.

Attendees should have previous experience developing for AR/VR/MR and/or with Unity. Space and devices are limited. Apply today!

FAQ

Who can attend?
We are looking for developers, designers, sound engineers, directors, story tellers and artists with experience creating on AR/VR/MR platforms.

What skills should I have?
Artists familiar with UX design in VR/AR/MR, 2D and 3D design skills are always an asset. Developers who know any of the following should consider joining: C#, Unity, Universal Windows Platform development.

What if I don’t have a team or an idea?
We highly encourage you to build with a team (max team size of four). Participants are not expected to have a fully formed team or concept prior to the event. We will include time for team forming and networking prior to official hacking start if you need to find a team to join.

Do I need a HoloLens or computer?
No need to bring a HoloLens — in fact if you have one, we recommend leaving it at home to avoid confusion on-site. We will have a HoloLens available for each team. We do, however, recommend if you are going to deploy to the HoloLens that you have a Windows 10 PC. We will have a handful on site, but it helps to have your own setup. We will send out a requirements & setup list ahead of time.

Is there a prize?

One team will be selected to receive a prize. Projects will be reviewed on originality, use of HoloLens features, technical difficulty, use of Microsoft services and APIs and how polished the hack is.

Schedule for Wednesday, June 21
9 a.m. – 10 a.m. — Arrival and breakfast
10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. — Opening Keynote
10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Group into teams & let the Hacking begin!
12 p.m. –  1 p.m. — Lunch
1 p.m. – 2 p.m. — Workshop 1: Gavin Bauman
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. — Workshop 2: Adina Shanholtz
3:30 p.m. – Midnight —Hacking Continues!

Schedule for Thursday, June 22
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. — Hacking!
5 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. — Project Presentations & Dinner
6 p.m. — Winners Announced!

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events, June 2017

We can’t believe it, but it seems summer is finally here in Boston!

Join us through the warm weather at our top picks for events this June:

June 1

Talk Data to Me: Startup Edition

Talk Data to Me is a monthly event series where General Assembly hosts thought-leaders from the Boston data community to discuss the possibilities that data brings to life.

In June we are inviting Boston-based startups that are using data science in new and interesting ways to share what they are working on. From predicting buying patterns and making user recommendations, to optimizing hospital scheduling and space utilization- data is touching every industry.

Hear how these young companies are thinking about data and what they predict the future of data and technology will look like.

June 3

Civic Imagination: Designing and Building a Better Future

Join Boston Civic Media’s third annual conference for a day of inspiring keynotes, presentations and networking with peers and community leaders around igniting civic creativity. Dive into topics including media literacy, youth-led advocacy, DIY activist technologies, and creative storytelling. We’ll also be announcing the first ever inter-campus curriculum addressing climate change.

Code in One Day: HTML & CSS Crash Course

HTML and CSS are the fundamental building blocks of the web. Whether you’re a beginner who wants to get started in web development, a designer looking to hand-code their concepts, or a marketer who wants a little more control over their CMS, you’ll need to know HTML and CSS to get the job done.

This one day workshop is the quickest way to get started building websites. You will dive head first into HTML and CSS, skill up with live coding exercises, and by the end of the day you’ll have a working web page to call your own.

Cambridge Arts River Festival

True to its beginning in 1974, the Cambridge Arts River Festival is an exuberant celebration of the arts in Cambridge! In those early days, a group of artists charged themselves with the development of an annual event that would showcase and celebrate the rich artistic traditions and activity that make Cambridge such a unique and exciting place.

June 6-8

5th Annual Citywide Arts Festival

Take a break and join us for the BPS Citywide Arts Festival! Our 5th anniversary event at features 1100+ students from 30 schools across the district, and is hosted by outstanding performing artists from the Class of 2017. Full schedule coming soon. Presented in collaboration with the Boston Parks Department, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, ArtsBoston. Come celebrate the arts with us!

June 14

Mass Innovation Nights #99 – African-American & African Tech Founders

Mass Innovation Nights are monthly startup product launch and networking events.

June is an exciting month for Mass Innovation Nights! Our theme for the June event is African & African American Founders of Tech Businesses sponsored by Greater Grove Hall Main Streets. We will have 14 super cool products showcasing.

June 30

City Dance Party

On Friday, June 30, join thousands of Cambridge residents and visitors who will gather on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Cambridge City Hall (795 Massachusetts Ave.) for the City’s annual Dance Party. Mass. Ave., between Prospect and Bigelow streets, will be closed to traffic during the event. The City Dance Party is free and open to the public.