It’s not everyday that you get shipped out to Seattle with over 70 other Microsoft Student Partners to experience a week full of technology and innovation from the brightest minds around the world.
Last week, Microsoft whisked me out to Seattle on my first ever trip outside of the UK for the Microsoft Student Partner Summit and Imagine Cup 2014 world finals. A special thanks to Microsoft UK, in particular Phil Cross and Rebecca Moore for nominating me to represent the UK’s MSP programme at this amazing event. On leaving London for Seattle, I met up with 3 other MSPs from different countries all on their way to the Summit. Being a student partner brings a bond between other students and technical evangelists, so I knew that the others that I would be meeting on this trip would become great friends. When we all arrived in the US, we took a scenic trip to the University of Washington dorms where we would spend the next week sleeping. Throughout the week, we had numerous events that packed our trip so tightly, that we didn’t have much time to ourselves!
The first two days consisted of the Microsoft Student Partner summit where Scott Burmester, head of the MSP programme, presented us with multiple speakers ranging from the technical evangelists to leaders of the MVP programme. We were given some fantastic talks on how we as MSPs can take the technology that we love and use daily, and use it to demonstrate how others can get involved in technology as a career. As part of my MSP experience, I did just that throughout the year giving talks on Windows Phone development, running a hackathon and starting up a YouTube channel to help people learn to develop for the platforms that I enjoy. Starting up the channel around a year ago has seen me bring in over 150,000 views and just over 300 subscribers with a lot of engagement from the community asking questions, most of which I will answer on the video and then blog about on my personal website which you are reading now!
During the two days, Imagine Cup finalists were also showcasing their projects and as MSPs, we were given the opportunity to present our own innovations to Microsoft employees and the IC teams. I took up the chance to demo my final year project, which was originally an Imagine Cup project for 2013, called PhysiHealth. I gained quite a lot of interest from the application that some students and MS employees actually told me that I should have submitted it for this years Imagine Cup finals! I also gained a lot of feedback on how I could improve the app, one of which was to use the new Kinect for Windows device to track motion rather than estimating with the phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope. This is one idea that I have already put into practice thanks to Ben Lower for providing all the MSPs with a Kinect for Windows developer kit! Then there was the Imagine Cup finals and what an experience that was! All of the students, MSPs and Imagine Cup finalists, were lead around the back of the huge room where the finals were being held so that we could make a grand appearance behind the thousands of attendees already waiting inside. The whole event was just incredible and if you’re sat watching at home, you don’t get the full experience of actually being there. If you get the chance to go, do it as you’ll regret it.
To wrap up the trip, Microsoft put on two awesome events for everyone including a Seattle Race which had the MSPs partner up with their IC counterparts for a race around Seattle as the name says. Using GPS waypoint devices, the UK team and I trekked the city seeing as many of the sights as we possibly could while taking in some fun facts about the local area. Although the event was quite rushed, I did get nearly everything checked off my list of places to see. The end of the race had us take an elevator ride up to the top of the Space Needle and what a view you get from up there.
As well as the race, Microsoft put on an awesome evening event at the EMP museum which is a strange place merging music, sci-fi and pop culture into one. While we did get the chance to roam the museum which would otherwise be closed, the main event was some amazing music surrounded by the new friendships we had created throughout the week.
All I can really say to end this off is, thank you to Scott and the crew at Microsoft for putting on this event for us. Thanks Phil and Rebecca for giving me the chance to go to the Imagine Cup finals. Most of all though, thanks to the other MSPs who I got to know over the week. Our time together may have been short but I’m sure that we will all keep in touch and meet up again soon!