InnerCity Weightlifting Info Breakfast: Learn More About Supporting this Organization while Staying Fit.

Please join us to learn more about an amazing social venture: InnerCity Weightlifting.  We are hosting a breakfast on December 4, 2013 at our campus to introduce this incredible group and hope that you will join us.

InnerCity Weightlifting’s mission is “to reduce violence and promote professional, personal and academic achievement among urban youth. They work with young people at the highest risk for violence in order to reduce youth violence by getting their students off the streets and into the gym, where they are empowered with the confidence and positive support needed to say no to violence and yes to opportunity.”

Through Microsoft’s partnership with Root Cause, we became connected with Jon Feinman and InnerCity Weightlifting about 18 months ago. InnerCity Weightlifting has become a great partner to Microsoft.  Microsoft hosts personal training at Microsoft twice each week.  Employees receive high quality personal training at a group rate.  At the same time, ICW trainers have an opportunity to visit our office in Kendall Square, make connections in the business community and spend time outside of their neighborhood.  We have discovered that weightlifting is for everyone – the Microsoft employees who participate range from beginners to experienced athletes and ICW is able to customize the workouts for each person’s needs.

ICW is hoping to grow their corporate partnerships and we are hosting this breakfast to solicit your input as to how they can engage more companies in the Boston area.  Please join us:

Informational Breakfast: Bringing InnerCity Weighlifting to Corporate Partners

December 4, 2013, 8:30AM – 9:30AM

Microsoft, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Register here.

Please join me on December 4 to learn more about InnerCity Weightlifting.InnerCity Weightlifting Logo

The Future of Music

Just how many new technologies can come out of 24 hours of music hacking? At Music Hack Day Boston, the largest music hackathon in the world, sixty game-changing music hacks were conceived and actualized. That’s 60 new innovations that may be the next big thing to change the face of music!

Music Hack Day 1

Hacker at work! Photo Credit: Michelle Ackerman

Music Hack Day 2

Demo time! Photo credit: Michelle Ackerman

Hosted by the Echo Nest at the NERD Center this past weekend, Music Hack Day Boston attracted over 200 hackers, some who brought their own hack ideas and others who provided the skills that would bring those ideas to life. Most hackers joined creative forces, as the event was focused on collaboration and innovation rather than competition and prizes. But don’t worry – while prizes weren’t the end goal of the hackathon, there were plenty given out to deserving teams!

Music Hack Day 3

Hackers Hacking! Photo Credit: Michelle Ackerman

Hackers arrived on Saturday morning eager to share ideas and get to work. Following opening remarks by Paul Lamere, Director of Developer Platform at Echo Nest, sponsoring organizations gave short presentations on the their technologies and what was available for the hackers to use in their projects. Next came Project Pitches where brave hackers shared ideas and then Tech Deep Dives where sponsors gave in depth details of their technology’s capabilities. Many attendees chose to ditch the Tech Deep Dives in favor of getting a head start on the actual hacking! And hack they did, many working through the night and right up until the 2.5 hour demo session the next day.

The demo session is where everything came together. The creativity, passion, and talent combined to produce some awesome new music hacks. Check out this year’s hacks as well as more pictures here and here. Let us know what your favorite hack was!

Introducing the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center New England

Earlier this month, Microsoft Research New England celebrated its fifth anniversary here at our New England R&D (NERD) facility in Kendall Square.

Annmarie Levins

Annmarie Levins, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Technology & Civic Engagement Group

Jennifer Chayes, the leader of our New England and New York research labs, organized a wonderful full-day symposium to mark the milestone and highlight Microsoft’s commitment to interdisciplinary research that she’s fostered here, with a mix of presentations by computer scientists, social scientists and economists.

Peter Lee, the head of Microsoft’s worldwide research organization, participated in the event, and I was especially inspired by some of his comments and overall optimism. He talked about this being a “Golden Age” of basic research, with the industry on the cusp of providing a new era of transformational technologies, delivering on the dream of computing devices that can see, hear, understand and act on our behalf, instead of just responding to our commands.

While Microsoft at its core is filled with technology optimists, we understand that at times, the pace at which technology is evolving  taxes both individuals’ and society’s ability to cope with the changes and take best advantage of the advancements.

That’s why today I’m pleased to announce the establishment of a Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center (MIPC) New England here at NERD in Kendall Square.  The vision for the Center embraces Microsoft’s interdisciplinary approach to research. We want to bring together the region’s key stakeholders from the technology, broader business, academic and government communities to respond to important issues that are byproducts or unintended consequences of technological advancements.  But perhaps more importantly, we hope to use the Center to anticipate the needs of New England citizens and governments as this next wave of innovation transitions from research to reality.

We already contribute to and partner with local organizations like Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MTLC), the New England Council, The Mass. Tech Hub Collaborative, The Mass. Broadband Institute and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, working on important regional technology and public policy issues that impact New England’s economy. But as part of Microsoft’s broader technology and civic engagement initiative, we feel it is important to go further, by establishing an Innovation & Policy Center here, just as we’ve done with similar locations in Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley and in international capitals such as Brussels.

Thanks to the work of many others here at NERD, Microsoft already has an important voice within the region’s tech community.  But through the MIPC New England, we want to extend our presence by:

  1. Connecting the region’s tech/business/academic/government stakeholders in ways that complement and extend the work of others such as MTLC;
  2. Catalyzing important technology and public policy discussions about issues that have a direct impact on this region’s economy; and
  3. Contributing more directly to the health and vitality of the local technology community and broader regional economic development opportunities.

Our inaugural event is tomorrow morning.  We will kick off our MIPC New England discussion series at NERD, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, on a topic of critical importance: Why teaching computer science in Massachusetts high schools is essential to the future economic health of the Commonwealth and our nation as a whole.  

As Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith proposed in our National Talent Strategy last year, as a country we need to focus on providing the next generation with the skills and opportunities they need to secure a brighter economic future. Through our YouthSpark initiative, we are working to provide opportunities to young people around the world, including right here in Cambridge through our TEALS computer science education program, among other efforts.

Tomorrow morning we will focus on the local angle to this important issue through a panel discussion and interactive conversation about how Massachusetts can take a leadership role in helping our students develop 21st century job skills.

Allyson Knox, Microsoft’s director of Education Policy & Programs, will moderate a panel discussion with Linda Noonan, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Steve Vinter, an engineering director at Google and co-founder of MassCAN; Pat Yongpradit, director of education, Code.org; and Jim Stanton, executive director of MassCAN and senior project manager at Education Development Center, Inc.

Please join us for breakfast around 8 a.m. followed by what will definitely be a thought-provoking discussion on this important topic.  We’ll finish by 10 a.m. so you can get back to your day jobs.


(Right to Left) Allyson Knox, Linda Noonan, Jim Stanton, Steve Vinter & Pat Yongpradit

In addition to the panel discussion, I’ll have the honor of presenting The MassTLC Education Foundation with a check for $350,000 to support its important work in conjunction with MassCAN and others on expanding the availability of computer science education in Massachusetts.

Finally, I’d like to introduce you to Cathy Wissink, who recently relocated to Cambridge from Redmond, Washington, to be Director of Technology Community Engagement.  Cathy will play a key role in overseeing our MIPC New England.

Cathy Wissink

Cathy Wissink, Director of Technology Community Engagement

Cathy joined Microsoft in 2000 and most recently was director of Global Government Affairs within our Legal and Corporate Affairs organization.  Cathy will be responsible for the 3 C’s outlined above, connecting key stakeholders across the tech/business/academic/government communities, catalyzing the right kinds of conversations, and ensuring Microsoft is contributing positively to solutions that enhance our quality of life in Massachusetts. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cathy previously, and know that all of you will enjoy getting to know and work with her.


You can connect with Cathy directly at cwissink@microsoft.com.

I hope you’ll join Cathy, and others at our event tomorrow morning, where we look forward to catalyzing and contributing to the conversation on this important issue, and continuing the conversation with you on this and other topics in the months ahead.


Annmarie Levins is Associate General Counsel in Microsoft’s newly created Technology & Civic Engagement group. She and her team are responsible for leading the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center New England, and for developing other Innovation & Policy Centers in the U.S. Annmarie, a Massachusetts native, has been based at NERD for the past five years, and is well known within the tech community here. She serves on the executive committees of the Mass. Tech Leadership Council and the New England Council, and chairs the New England Council’s Technology Committee.  She also is Microsoft’s liaison to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Register Now for The Successful You!

Brace yourself Boston! A powerhouse group of women is coming to town for The Successful You: 2013 Women’s Leadership Forum at the NERD Center on November 14.

Successful You

This annual leadership conference, hosted in conjunction with The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), brings together a network of female entrepreneurs, CEOs, and leaders in STEM fields from the across New England. Joining these women will be 30 girls from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and Science Club for Girls. With women grossly underrepresented in science and technology fields, it is a much needed opportunity to mentor and provide support for these future leaders. In addition to sponsoring the girls, all proceeds of the conference will be donated to the two organizations to help them promote STEM education.

Successful You Logo

This year’s forum boasts a myriad of speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. Dr. Georgia Papathomas, Vice President and Group CIO at Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals, will jumpstart the day with a keynote followed by a talk on Executive Presence in STEM Fields by conference veteran Diane Ripstein, Owner and Principal at Diane Ripstein Consulting. Workshops will include The Future of Social Technology and Tapping Your Inner Entrepreneur.
Given this impressive group, tickets for the event will go fast! Early bird tickets are now available to purchase online here for $99 (regularly $125), so don’t wait…buy your tickets now to guarantee your ticket and savings! You can also donate an additional amount to the two organizations so they can continue their work of advocating for girls in STEM fields.

We’ll see you on November 14!

4 Ways to Spend the Last Weeks of Summer in Cambridge

You may not have had enough of summer yet, but those recent chilly mornings can only mean one thing: fall is on its way. Before you get weighed down by your oversized winter coats and snowed in by the inevitable blizzards (sorry for the reminder…) cherish your last few weeks of summer! Check out our list of 4 fun things to do in Cambridge before the end of summer.

  1. Get inspired at the MIT Museum. Being a tech company of course we included this one, but the MIT Museum is a must for everyone! Whether or not you’ve been before, spend a day submerged in invention, ideas, and innovation. My two exhibition picks? Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things and Robots and Beyond: Exploring Artificial Intelligence at MIT.
  2. Grab a Hubway bike and explore Cambridge. For a few bucks you can bask in the summer sun, fit in your exercise for the day, and stop by all your favorite shops, restaurants, and parks. There’s no better way to see what’s happening in your city than to find out for yourself!
  3. Work out with Inner City Weightlifting at Microsoft. Summer is all about being active, so join us for a killer workout. You’ll be supporting an awesome nonprofit that is making a difference in our community while also doing some serious stress busting.
  4. Go on a Segway tour of Cambridge. Come on…we’ve all wanted to try out a Segway since we first heard about them years ago. Maybe they’re not all they’re hyped up to be, but you won’t know until you try!

There you have it! Four ways to spend your last few weeks of summer in Cambridge. Have any other fun activities or events to add to our list? Let us know on Facebook or tweet us!



innercity weightlifting





MassTLC PAX ‘Made In MA’ Party 2013

This year’s PAX East celebration started a bit early at NERD with Mass TLC’s ‘Made in MA’ Party featuring games made in Massachusetts. With over 30 exhibitors showcasing their games and concepts to an audience of 1,500 people, this party showed off the best that Massachusetts’ gaming community has to offer. Gamers, developers, and students each brought a unique spin to the party making for a really great kick-off to PAX East.

New this year was the Student Showcase featuring student groups from Becker College, Tufts University, and Worcester Polytech (WPI) displaying their games to the attendees. With text-to-vote results displayed across projection screens throughout NERD, this new event became a central feature of the party. WPI came out on top… check out the photo of the team below.

Other highlights included a surprise appearance of Bumblebee from Transformers (pretty cool!), causing large cheers from the crowd, and the crowd playing Dance Central 3 for the Xbox Kinect on one of the large projection screens.

Aiming to bring together the entire gaming community in Mass for a night of networking and celebration, the party was a great success! It’s always incredible to see the amazing technology that is produced right in our own backyard.

Students and Developers mingle in front of Dance Central 3 on the big screen.

Students and Developers mingle in front of Dance Central 3 on the big screen.

The winning team of the Student Showcase: WPI.

The winning team of the Student Showcase: WPI.

Bumblebee from Transformers made a Guest Appearance.

Bumblebee from Transformers made a Guest Appearance.

Trackage rated one of the top Metro apps by InfoWorld

Exciting news from the Foundry at NERD.

A Snapshot of the App

A Snapshot of the App

Trackage, an app developed by a team of students during the 2012 inaugural Foundry program, ranked in InfoWorld’s list of top Metro apps.

The app, designed to track your packages from all major postal carriers in one place, has the added bonus of keeping you easily updated through a tile on Metro’s start screen. In addition, Trackage automatically syncs your packages across devices – making it easy to check their status from wherever you are. Throw in the ability to personalize the names of your package and you have a truly great app.

Trackage is just one of a number of great apps developed at Microsoft’s inaugural Foundry program this past summer. Other highlights include an app to help you catch the MBTA, a reminder and alarm hub, and an app to turn your photos into a film; check them all out here.

DigiGirlz 2013 at Microsoft New England

On March 15, Microsoft New England was the proud host of over 100 high school girls from 13 area high schools and 3 local non-profits. As part of Microsoft’s efforts to offer technology programs targeted at youth, this one-day DigiGirlz 2013 event focused on showing girls across the greater Boston area what a career in technology is all about.

DigiGirlz, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, gives high school girls the opportunity to connect with Microsoft employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. During these events, students get an inside look at what it’s like to work at Microsoft. And this group of students also had a chance to check out our newest space at One Cambridge Center!

This year’s event focused on hand-on and interactive experiences. In one breakout session, the girls were challenged to design a product that tackles a problem that people face every day. It’s always inspiring to see what the leaders of tomorrow can come up with today! This exciting event also provided the girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations (check out the photos below).

Part of Microsoft’s desire to encourage the progress of women in technology as part of Women’s history month, this year’s DigiGirlz event was a huge success!!

Attendees at One Cambridge Center

Attendees at One Cambridge Center


Attendees Experimenting with the Kinect




Attendees Experimenting with the Kinect


The NERD Center in India and India comes to NERD


A sunny open air lobby with lots of recognizable Microsoft posters and furniture.


In a big company like Microsoft, the fact is offices exist beyond our beloved NERD Center in Cambridge, MA (Shocking I know). This office houses common Microsoft product development teams you’re likely familiar with, SharePoint and Office 365 in addition to significant research teams that study topics and create solutions that are secret to you (and actually me too). Being a research center is what gives us the awesome name NERD, an acronym for New England Research and Development.


NERD is one of 13 research centers around the world and last week I got the chance to visit another one. I happened to be in India for a friend’s (big fat Indian) wedding and passed through Hyderabad, a multicultural city of only 7 million. Forget the museums, monuments and forts. The number one site attraction on my list was Microsoft India Development Center, an equivalent to NERD. The Director of HR at our office, Matt McTee, used to work there and put me in touch with former colleagues. Hariharan Ragunathan gave me a personal tour of the space and Juhee Ahmed treated me to lunch in the building cafeteria. I enjoyed a delicious Hyderabad Biryani, an absolute must-have when in that region.


The main entrance of IDC with Juhee.


The warm welcome and the memorable interactions with everyone on campus made the MS IDC visit a highlight of my trip to India. I noticed several similarities to NERD. Immediately upon entering the building I heard the familiar sounds of our favorite break activity- Ping Pong!  Like us, MS IDC opened in 1998 to attract local talent. We’re near dozens of schools and next door to MIT. They’re literally next to India School of Business (ISB), the premier business school in India. Also like us, this site is home to research teams and product development teams including Windows, Office and Online Services Division. The most shocking similarity I found was furniture. I noticed several areas with similar orange and green futurist chairs and modern motifs throughout the building. I don’t know why that surprised me, we are both Microsoft offices after all.


So what was different? Mainly the size. MS IDC has 2,000 employees in their building alone. The campus is home to more than 4,000 in several buildings that span 54 acres designed to mirror the Redmond campus. There is a cafeteria open 24 hours, a cricket field, basketball court and even an on campus pharmacy. Although such perks are tempting, I can’t see myself leaving our dream location in Cambridge.


MS India Researcher Bill Thies will be at NERD on Monday 12/3 to share new technology that improves TB treatment.


My visit to Microsoft India was just one small connection NERD has to India. Researchers there are working with researches here to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. One of them is Tuberculosis (TB), a dieses that effects 1/3 of the world’s population. In India alone 2 people die every 3 minutes. But TB is treatable and MSR India member Bill Thies has developed a new technology to solve treatment problems. He will be at NERD this Monday to share his impact story through a documentary. Join us for lunch, meet the brains behind the cause and learn what this medical breakthrough means for the future of fighting TB and countless other diseases using technology.


Join us at NERD on Monday December 3rd from 11:30am-12:30pm. Invite your colleagues, friends, cousins, mothers, fathers and everyone else. It’s going to be a great event and we’re exciting to host it.  Register here, see you Monday.


A very different, but still beautiful view.

Outside the IDC building. We both have beautiful views.

Hari in his office. Our HR Director Matt got Hari interested in running and biking. Matt’s influence lives on- these are races he particiapted in since Matt relocated to NERD.

Matt’s old HR team. It was cool to meet people that worked with someone I currently work with.


How many young girls do you know that aspire to be scientists? How about software engineers or math researchers?  I imagine not as many as teachers, Hollywood actresses or singers.

It’s no secret that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are important. If STEM is our future, then today’s youngsters need to be interested in these fields.  It’s also no secret that boys tend to choose STEM career paths while girls are generally more attracted to creative and educational roles.

But why?  Evidence points to lack of exposure.  If girls are introduced to STEM focuses earlier in life, they will be more likely to explore these opportunities as they develop academic and professional interests. At Microsoft, we truly believe this. We know that the smartest and the brightest employees come in all genders and we want to attract them to these thriving industries. That’s why next week we’re teaming up with MITX and The Commonwealth Institute to do just that.

The 3rd annual Successful You: Women’s Leadership Forum will work towards bringing more girls into STEM careers physically and financially.  Physically, we’ve developed a special track, just for girls that will excite them about STEM opportunities.  Financially, 100% of the event proceeds will be split between The Science Club for Girls and Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, both of which fund programs to further fuel the girls in STEM initiative.

Join us on Thursday October 4th for a powerful day that will make a difference in your personal and professional lives. But don’t just take my word for it, read what Pam Conway thinks about #WLF12.