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Staff Spotlight: Kristin Kube

Kristin

Name: Kristin Kube

Hometown: Columbia, Maryland

Job: Business Administrator for the Intune DeX Engineering and PM Teams in Cambridge, MA

Years at Microsoft: 3 years, 7 months

Favorite Local Restaurant: I love Commonwealth in Cambridge!

Last thing you searched on Bing: The singer Ellie Goulding; she was recently in a car accident in Norway and I was reading about it. I was also looking at images of her. I think she is so gorgeous and such a talented artist!

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: My favorite part of my job is event planning! I am currently working on a morale event for my leadership team which will be a bartending/mixology class they take together at Drinkmaster Bartending School in downtown Boston. I get to attend as well; I am super excited!

What inspires you about technology? I love how technology can help people with disabilities. I was particularly inspired by the story of Steve Gleason, a former NFL player who has ALS and who uses eye-tracking technology, which runs on Windows on his Surface, to communicate. This has greatly improved his quality of life. It is amazing and inspiring!

What problem would you like to see solved with technology? I would like to see technology continue to help improve the human experience, whether it be improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, developing new ways for people to express themselves creatively, making our daily lives and tasks easier or exploring the universe. Technology is capable of so much and I can’t wait to see what it accomplishes next!

Girls from New England head to Technovation Finals

technovation-logo-300x137On the first Friday in May, Microsoft was packed with girls. Yes, GIRLS! The 10th floor was filled to capacity with young women interested in technology and proud to show off the amazing apps they developed for a national competition called Technovation. I was honored serve among a truly stellar panel of judges:  Julia Austin (formerly Akamai), Kara Shurmantine (MassChallenge), Tracy Rosenthal-Newsom, (formerly Harmonix) and Pamela Aldsworth (Silicon Valley Bank).

Rachel Nicoll of Mass Tech Leadership Council’s Education Foundation shared that some of our finalists will be heading to California to pitch in the Technovation Finals for the chance to win $10,000!  She sat down to answer a few questions about Technovation and the interview is included below.

Share Technovation with a young woman you know today!

  1. What is Technovation?

Technovation is an international program that teaches mobile app development, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. High school and middle school female students work in teams of up to 5 to develop mobile apps to solve a problem in their local community. Teams work with a classroom teacher or coach at their school and a female mentor/role model as project manager from the technology or related industry. The program is free and open to all girls age 10-18 with any level of experience (“beginners welcome”).

  1. What kind of participation did we see from Massachusetts?

There were 40 teams from 18 schools signed up at the start of the season; 28 teams finished. A bit of attrition is normal, but the numerous blizzards and school closings really hit the teams hard. We are looking at ways to address the Technovation schedule and get the students in “Technovation-mode” earlier so this is less of an issue in the future. Let’s get 40 to finish next year!

  1. Tell us about the apps that won the MA regional competition.

Five teams  – 4 high school and 1 middle school – from the Massachusetts Regional Showcase progressed to the Semifinal round. There are 18 teams representing US/Canada at the high school level – our 4 Massachusetts teams represent almost 1/4 of that region!

AMEKA (Winchester High School) addresses the issue of impaired driving via their Safe Guard Driving app. Through a series of tests, users can ascertain whether or not their vision, reaction times, balance & cognitive ability are impaired or not. In the future, the app has the potential to be connected to ignition interlock technologies if partnered with an automobile company.

Seventh (Phillips Academy) created The Pack: Safety in Numbers, a comprehensive safety app intended for teenagers and young adults that addresses the problems of sexual assault, hazing, and substance abuse in unfamiliar situations. The Pack is an expanded, digitized version of the time tested buddy system, including a friend-compass and check-in code among its features.

Techtonic’s (Winchester High School) application, ENKI, is intended to serve as a bridge between members of the school community. Teachers are able to post assignments, students are able to communicate with their peers and advisors, users can interact with teachers and classmates using the messaging capabilities, and all users receive automatic updates. Students are able to interact with their peers as well as interact with their teachers in a scholastic environment. The academic atmosphere of ENKI ensures that these communications will solely be scholarly.

WoCo (Phillips Academy) designed PraisePop as an interactive, social, and positive way to engage with the community. Too often people feel alone, excluded and unacknowledged due to negativity; PraisePop counteracts this by providing a method to spread positivity and inclusivity in communities by anonymously sharing uplifting posts.

Appily Ever After (Blake Middle School) created OpportuniTeens to connect non-profit organizations with teen volunteers. Using this app, teens can fulfill volunteer opportunities within local communities, organizations have a place to spread the word about these opportunities, and high school students can acquire community service hours to graduate.

  1. What’s next for the Technovation competitors?

Two of the MA semifinalists, AMEKA and WoCo, have been selected for the World Pitch Event in San Francisco on June 24th. They will pitch their apps live in front of a panel of judges at Yelp’s headquarters, competing against 4 other teams in the high school division for the top prize of $10,000.

Last year’s regional winning team, SKARA, competed in the Boston TechJam Pitch Contest and came in 2nd. They got a lot of great exposure and Constant Contact’s Small Business Innoloft hosted them over the summer to continue to work on their app. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Technovation team or two pop up on the roster for this year’s TechJam Pitch.

Local Leaders Welcome Microsoft’s New CEO, Satya Nadella

Satya NadellaSatya Nadella (@satyanadella) became Microsoft’s third CEO yesterday, bringing a genuine passion for innovation, collaboration, and education to the position.

During his 22 years at Microsoft so far, Nadella has led many major transformations within the company, including Microsoft’s move to the cloud. He helped develop one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world, supporting Bing, XBox, Office and others.

A number of teams at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center worked within the Cloud & Enterprise division that Satya led before moving over to CEO, including our Cloud & Machine Learning and Enterprise Client teams. Various local leaders have already expressed their excitement around this announcement.

“I was fortunate to be on the Redmond campus when Satya was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft. The excitement here was palpable,” said Leads TCE Annmarie Levins (@AnnmarieLevins), who leads Microsoft’s new Technology & Civic Engagement group. “Satya has a track record of extraordinary success and leadership. I’m very excited by this choice.”

“Satya Nadella will be a great leader for Microsoft and brings a diverse technical and business background. His relentless focus on driving innovation will provide great benefit for our customer and partners,” said District General Manager Craig Hodges. “We look forward to him coming to Cambridge and listening to and meeting with our customers and partners.”

Check out Nadella’s first interview as CEO here:

“The one thing I would say that defines me is that I love to learn,” Nadella said in the interview. “The thing about being able to watch people do great things, learn new concepts, is something that truly excites me.”

This is exciting, as Microsoft New England is specifically looking to increase interest among youths in STEM Education.

When asked how he felt when he accepted the role, Nadella seemed as eager as we are about Microsoft’s future: “Honored, humbled, excited. We have tremendous opportunity, and that’s inspiring.”

Read the official Press Release via Microsoft News Center here.

Welcome to the New Microsoft New England

The new and improved Microsoft New England website has arrived! From its animated backgrounds and vibrant colors to its fresh look and integrated content, the new website represents all that is Microsoft New England.

The website now provides one home for both Research and Development and Sales and Marketing while also providing easy access to the Microsoft products, marketplace, and support site. As Microsoft has solidified its presence in New England, it was only fitting to create a unified site indicative of the energetic, innovative, and unique people behind the brand.

It has never been easier to learn about the different teams and the inspiring individuals who comprise them. The new site goes beyond boring descriptions and gives visitors a glimpse into life at Microsoft. On the “teams and people” page you can even follow Matt, Program Manager and gym nut on the Docs team, through a day in his life from biking to work in the morning to building the newest features for Word and other programs during the day.

But fear not! The revamped look does not mean drastic or confusing changes that will complicate your visit to the website. It’s even more user-friendly than ever before. There is a page or section for everything, including events, careers, internships, the Foundry, Women’s Leadership Forum, and community involvement among others.  Looking for information? You will find it! But don’t take my word for it. Go explore the new website for yourself!

MS Logo

 

United Way and Youth Venture Rock the NERD Center

The only thing louder than the music was the cupcakes. On Thursday, June 6, the halls of Microsoft’s NERD Center were zapped with the energy of over 80  young people, gathered together to laud each other’s accomplishments, consume neon frosted baked  goods and prove to anyone watching that the next generation has community on top of mind.

Youth Venture

A Youth Venture groups poses for a fun picture!

It was the annual Youth Venture Celebration, presented by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and  Merrimack Valley, an event designed to herald the achievements of the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Microsoft’s support of youth and innovation made it the perfect venue for the celebration.

“Every time I attend one of these events, I’m hit with the same feeling: amazement,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “The ingenuity, professionalism and boundless energy of these young people represents a glimpse into what our future holds, and we are proud that our Youth Venture program and volunteers have helped them tap into what’s possible, for themselves and their communities.”

Neon Cupcakes

The neon cupcakes were a huge hit!

Now in its sixth year, Youth Venture provides grants to teams of middle and high school students throughout United Way’s footprint to embark on their own community investments. Whatever issues moves them, whatever vision grabs them, that’s what their venture becomes. The 2013 edition featured 41 teams of youth, hailing from as far south as Dorchester and as far north as Lawrence.

Youth Venture

There was no lack of energy as teams showed off their projects!

It all came together at the Celebration, where the teams showed off their projects, from a community garden initiative designed to mitigate gang activity in Roxbury to the youth-produced, issue-driven public access show in Cambridge. The ventures were varied and unique, but all held one thing in common: they were designed to make the world a better place.

“We want to take out the scare of difference from  our city,” said Leo, a member of the Lynn Youth  Council, which will be putting on a unity festival later in the summer. “We want to unite everybody so  we know who we are and where we are in the same community.”

 

Guest Post Written by David Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

The Foundry to Welcome 40 Summer Interns

Forty college students will arrive at Microsoft New England this week for a second summer Foundry program. After a successful pilot program last year, Microsoft will welcome nearly double the number of students, all eager to improve upon their software development skills and have an unbelievable time while doing so.

Foundry 2013 Students

Foundry 2013 Interns

The NERD center will become home to these developers and designers as they begin 12 weeks of intensive application writing for the Windows phone and Surface tablet. Hailing from 13 schools (including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Wellesley, Northeastern, Waterloo, UMass, Wheaton, and Wentworth), the students will write applications from start to finish and ship them to the Windows and Window Phone Marketplaces to be downloaded.

The students will work in teams of five under the guidance of Microsoft coaches and industry experts. They will continually practice the process of software development, learning to judge the time it takes to create each feature. The students will also fly to the Redmond campus in July to engage in Microsoft’s Intern Week. In Redmond students will exchange long hours of developing and designing for a surprise signature event (a concert last year), talks and activities with Microsoft leaders, and an insight into what it means to be a Microsoft employee. Sara Spalding, Sr. Director at NERD, shared her impression of last year’s Intern Week: “I was blown away; it was the most exciting event I have been to in my almost 20 years at the company.”

Catch the latest blog updates on Foundry 2013, including a recap of this year’s Intern Week, and check the Windows Marketplace at the end of the summer to discover the newly developed apps and install them on your phone and tablet.

 

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BTC

Hacking is often its own reward. You fixed a problem. You made life easier. You found a way to save time. Or money. Or both. You outsmarted everyone else. You found a solution when no one else could.

Good job, you. Pat yourself on the back.

But even if it is its own reward, more rewards would be nice, right? Like a membership to Xbox Live with some games to get you started. A Kinect/Xbox Bundle. Or a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. That’d be cool, right? Well, you got it. You send us your hack. And if it’s good enough, you could be entered to get a prize.

The catch? There’s one. We don’t want your code. We want to know how you build a set of speakers for your phone with only a paper towel role and some pushpins. Or a cool way to organize our music library. Life hacks. Solutions to everyday dilemmas. Because that’s what great hacking is. And who better to ask than you–a hacker. You know how to do it. Now you just need to go beyond the code. Visit www.microsoftcambridge.com/beyondthecode to see what others are doing and to submit your idea.

 

Meet Debi Mishra – Expert at Shipping V1 Products and Big Time Foodie

Debi Mishra, Engineering Manager & Site Leader – SQL IS Boston

Debi Mishra

Debi Mishra

What do you like best about working at Microsoft?

I’ve worked at Microsoft for 16+ years and have left and returned in between for a start-up that I had founded. Microsoft gives you a really big canvas to get your act onto the world stage. I have had the incredible opportunity to work on and ship seven new products or technologies in these years. The excitement of building new products, the technical challenges they offer, and their potential impact, get your creative juices flowing.

 

What does your group at NERD do, and why does it matter?

Today we are in a new world of data. We have seen rapid growth of computing devices and exponential increase in digital signals. Data-driven decision-making is getting pervasive and increasing data velocity means the time window to act is getting smaller. My group at NERD is working on advanced analytics – the intersection of Big Data, Machine Learning and High-Performance Numerical Computing. We build programming frameworks and experiment environment that allows for a natural expression of machine learning concepts and an elegant, yet powerful, means of scaling machine learning models from small, local, shared memory execution environments to large, remote, distributed memory systems.

What it is like working at Microsoft NERD?

NERD is like a mini Redmond campus – teams at NERD are from across various Microsoft product divisions. Being remote from the mother ship, teams here have a lot in common. Our group is a very close-knit team, works hard and finds time to enjoy team events together. Our team stands around the kitchen area for our Tuesday morning sync where we all share what we have been up to lately. And if it is a Monday, you are likely to find Anna’s home-baked cookies. Our team is rich in talent in parallel and distributed computing – which is an excellent foundation for the machine learning work we’re doing. Our team works closely with our broader AIP team in Redmond as well as with various Microsoft Research teams. The collaboration we have between research and product development is unique and super valuable.

What are your impressions of Boston?

I moved from Seattle to Boston in January 2013. Like Seattle, Boston is a great city culturally. Boston has an amazing history. Boston’s response to the marathon tragedy has been very special. But the roads here go in all kinds of directions and I am never sure in which magnetic direction I am headed. As a foodie, I find the lump crab cakes here are lot lumpier than Seattle.

When not working on machine learning, what do you do for fun?

I read a lot, love movies, follow my sports teams (Sounders FC, Seahawks, and the Indian national cricket team). I am a big-time foodie, and outside of picking interesting eateries, I often cook, especially goat meat. I’ve found the best Indian food stores in the city.

STEM Inclusion Roundtable Emphasizes Importance of Expanding STEM Education to Diverse Communities

This past week saw the City of Cambridge, The America21 Project, and Microsoft take action on advancing STEM education in a diverse community.  More than 170 policy makers, business leaders, and non-profit organizations gathered at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School to develop action plans to advance STEM education locally. Cambridge is one of 4 pilot cities participating in a White House-driven initiative to encourage youth to embrace the study of science, engineering and technology.

Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis speaks to the crowd.

Centered on breakout sessions to identify challenges and possible solutions, the event emphasized creating ownership and developing accountability for action steps. (A summary deck of the project can be found here). In addition, the event featured speakers such asSteven Grossman, Massachusetts State Treasurer, Jan Cuny, Program Manager at the National Science FoundationHenrietta Davis, Mayor of Cambridge, and Dr. Jeffrey Young, Superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools.

Dr. Young mentioned the unique nature of Cambridge: a highly diverse community with two of the world’s top universities (Harvard and MIT), two top technology firms (Microsoft and Google), a large number of innovative start-ups, and an impressive array of non-profits – all of which can surely benefit the students in Cambridge.

Noting that “the city of Cambridge has a long tradition at being at the forefront of the innovation economy,” Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis echoed these remarks. “In partnership with Microsoft Research and The America21 Project, we look forward to giving our young people greater access to the resources and opportunities available at these academic and industry centers. President Obama has made STEM education a national priority, and we in Cambridge are coming together as a community to make that priority a reality.”

For its part, Microsoft has also committed to bring AP Computer Science to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin school through theTEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) initiative, providing lab support and helping to build teacher capacity.  Soon we will begin to recruit industry experts who want to help teach these classes.  To attend an info session on TEALS volunteer opportunities, please email Aimee Sprung (aimees@microsoft.com).

A special thank you is due to the people spearheading this important effort: Mayor of Cambridge Henrietta Davis and Superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools Dr. Jeffrey Young, who have provided the vision and brought together diverse stakeholders to advance STEM education in Cambridge. In addition, a special thanks is due to Rane Johnson-Stempson, Education and Scholarly Communication Principal Research Director of Microsoft Research, for her championing of this very important initiative to further STEM education.

Dr. Jeffrey Young, Superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools, speaks.

The Plan

Taking Action & Solving Problems

Microsoft Continues to Pioneer Efforts Promoting LGBT Equality

Greg McCurdy, Dana Zircher, Chad Griffin, President of HRC, Diana Pallais, and Matt Feczko at the HRC CEI Awards Ceremony.

In what has become a historic year for the advancement of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights in the U.S., Microsoft has continued its role as a major advocate for equality.

 

Most recently this support has manifested itself in Microsoft joining 277 other business to fill a friend-of-the court or amicus brief calling for the United States Supreme Court to strike down DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996, Microsoft has continued to put its weight behind repeal efforts since first joining 70 other companies in filing an amicus brief opposing DOMA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, sitting in Boston in November 2011.

Internally, Microsoft has continued to be a leader in championing workplace rights of LGBT employees, earning the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) “Best Places to Work” rating for the 8th year in a row. The annual CEI report rates large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Businesses rated 100 percent are recognized as “Best Places to Work.” In mid-March two Microsoft New England employees, Matt Feczko, Program Manager on the Docs team, and Dana Zircher, Principal Developer Lead, also on the Docs team, traveled to New York to receive the award on behalf of Microsoft. The pictures below show them at the awards ceremony.

Commenting on the award, Dana Zircher, co-policy director for GLEAM’s Board of Directors noted that, “in this historic year for the LGBT community, we’re proud that Microsoft has put itself on the map by taking a strong stance by supporting its LGBT employees.”

Microsoft’s support for equality has a long history. GLEAM, which represents the LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allies) community at Microsoft, is currently celebrating its 20th year. Founded as an employee resource group, GLEAM works to drive LGBT-friendly changes both inside and outside of the workplace, participating as a representative to the employee diversity advisory council, the organization dedicated to supporting Microsoft in setting and achieving goals promoting diversity in the workplace.

Closer to home, Microsoft is also proud to support LGBT causes in the greater Boston area. As champion of GLEAM New England, Matt Feczko helps to run the organization locally. He creates events at which LGBTQ employees and their allies can advocate for diversity. Matt is particularly excited about the 43rd Annual Boston Pride Parade on June 8th, a 2-mile march ending at a festival in Boston’s Government Center. We hope to see you there!

Microsoft Achieved a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index

Matt Feczko and Dana Zircher at the HRC CEI Awards Ceremony