Posted by: technofutures | October 4, 2008

Microsoft Star Award Trip to Seattle – Day 2

After an intense but fascinating Thursday, a new day had been prepared for us, full of excitement and discoveries!

Friday 26th September

Another early start and breakfast & we were ready to go!

P9260089The introduction to the day was held by Joe Wilson, Head of D&PE (Developer & Platform Evangelism) in the form of a discussion on the themes of education, Microsoft Academia Programs, MSPs etc and gave us the ability to express many of our thoughts related to these subjects. One of the topics Kris and I really wanted to push was the need for a bigger Microsoft presence in High (Secondary) School, something which I have lots of ideas about and I am eager to attempts to put in place this year…

Following Joe’s discussion came of of the most highly anticipated speaker of these two days: Microsoft Vice-President Scott Guthrie, a person that many of us had never dreamt of meeting… and being given the opportunity to spend an hour with him answer whatever questions we wanted! These ranged from Silverlight through ASP.NET to Parallel Computing, with Scott pulling up demos and giving us such a valuable insight into the topics. It was a true honour indeed… and we apologize to the people in the meeting he had after us for making him arrive late!


Jennifer Perrett (Previous MSP program manager, whom many of us have enjoyed communicating with over the last year – mainly to frustratingly debug Dreamspark at ridiculous hours of the morning!) then took the opportunity to have a discussion about how we felt the MSP program was going which led on well to the day’s ‘workshop’.

lunch PIC One of the Microsoft Cafeterias… can you spot me? Picture by Luke Kim

After lunch, in the form of a typical Microsoft brainstorming session we each had to come up with one problem with the MSP program. This was followed by a debate about which issues should be prioritised and then eventually, the top 3 were chosen, and we were split into teams to come up with solution statements and present them. It was a remarkable opportunity to share our MSP experiences ‘in the field’, but also quite a hard exercise, forcing us to think carefully about priorities in a similar manner to which Microsoft Product teams do so in their brainstorming sessions.

Thanks to the organizer’s frantic efforts, we then sneaked off into a nearby building to have a play with an object which we had all been wanting to get our hands on for a long time: a Commodore 64… no I’m joking… a Microsoft Surface! Despite there being so little time we just had so much fun playing with it and were pleasantly surprised how well the multi-touch table managed to deal with tens of fingers from eager MSPs! Games, maps, pictures … lots of fun…

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MSPs have fun with the Microsoft Surface


The next presenter was very technical… Pablo Castro introduced us to Microsoft’s Astoria project. I’d never heard of it before but MSDN summarizes it as “a set of patterns as well as a concrete infrastructure for creating and consuming data services using Web technologies”… Very interesting at the time… I have to admit it was full of dizzying acronyms, many of which I have now forgotten, but at least I learnt a lot about the techniques used in Astoria, looking forward to finding out more when I have time… Maybe Wikipedia will help… 🙂

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Pablo’s presentation was followed by what I thought was the best presentation of the two days, striking a perfect technical and discussion balance. David Lemphers covered various aspects of ‘Cloud Computing’ and ‘Software+Services’, trying to explain what these are and covering some of the interesting things that will be seen at PDC (Watch out.. PDC is going to be big!) He discussed the structure of ‘the cloud’ and how cloud computing differs from personal computing. Another interesting aspect was the monetising of CC…

The day finished off with Carrie Read discussing ‘How to get a job at MS’ and Andre Furtado discussing his (numerous!) experiences with Microsoft before joining the company as a software developer.

Emanuele ‘Millo’ Ognissanti (Academic Audience Group Marketing Manager) rounded off the whole event with inspirational visions of the MSP program, discussed in a fun way (which included a rather intriguing team building competition…).

P9270115The evening was spent having a lot of discussions, a lot of fun, a lot of food and a lot of Xbox at Lucky Strike Bellevue… I avoided the bowling lanes somewhat to avoid blinding all the other MSPs with my amazing bowling skills (ahem…) and instead focused on my drumming skills on Rock Band (Not knowing half the songs didn’t help… and I’m sure they misnamed the ‘medium difficulty level’… it should have read ‘impossible’…).

Overall the event was ‘AWEsome’ (said with a strong american accent)! It was so much fun, so many discoveries, so many new friends, so many new connections… It would of course never have been possible without the superb organization of Leandro and Kameo, who made these two days truly exceptional, and the ever-enthusiastic presence of microsoftees like Jennifer and Millo.

A huge thank you must also go the Microsoft UK Academic Team, and in particular Stacey Ball (& Mark Johnston) for organising the logistics of our trip and sending us there as part of our Star Award prize.

A thousand thank-yous to you all for a stunning event… MSPs… watch out for Student Daze 2.0 next year and prepare to be … ‘dazed’!

Stay tuned for the next post on the final two days in Seattle!


Kris’s Blog on the trip Day 1

Edmund’s Blog on the event



  1. […] Star Award Trip to Seattle – Day 1, Day 2, 3 and 4 – Warren […]

  2. I’d love to hear some of your ideas about getting involved with secondary/high schools. That is what I am doing in the US and I’d love to see more of it around the world.

  3. […] Star Award Trip to Seattle – Day 1, Day 2, 3 and 4 – Warren […]

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