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Fellow Profile: Zach Fogelson

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Where are you from?
Chicago

School/grade/major: Harvard, Senior, Computer Science

Last Thing You Binged: Caffeine :)

Why did you choose to intern with Microsoft?
I chose to work for Microsoft for many reasons. First, I like working at Microsoft because Microsoft builds the platforms and tools that allow developers to be creative everywhere. In addition, Microsoft is an amazingly collaborative and innovative environment. All of the people I work with here are kind, passionate about technology, and helpful.

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for MSNE?
In conjunction with a team at Code for Boston, I am working on converting the Boston City laws to USLM (United States Legislative Markup) format. This project is part of an effort going on all around the country to standardize legal formatting and thereby improve access to legal documents for citizens.

What excites you about civic tech?
I am excited about working in civic tech because I know that there are numerous policies and government initiatives that should be having a bigger impact on people’s lives than they are now. When I make technological contributions to my community I feel like I am helping to break down the barriers that prevents people from accessing the government services they need.

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities?
One issue that I hope civic tech can solve for cities is access to high quality education. As more world-class lectures, notes, and exercises are available online, I hope that people will be empowered to take control of their education wherever they are and regardless of socioeconomic status.

It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month. What is one thing you do personally to stay safe online?
One quick thing I do to stay safe is that when I get an email, and I am not sure of whether or not it originated from a safe source, I put my cursor over the links in the email before clicking on it and I check the URL embedded in the hyperlink. If I don’t recognize the URL I throw out the message.

Staff Spotlight: Nancy Baym

Nancy_BaymName: Nancy Baym 

Hometown: Urbana, Illinois

Job: Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research

Years at Microsoft: 2

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: That’s a hard call! I quite like Helmand in Cambridge and Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline.

Last thing you Binged: I was looking for articles about the new album by the Spanish singer-songwriter Nacho Vegas.

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: I’ve been interviewing musicians about their relationships with audiences. I think that counts as cool!

What inspires you about technology? I’m fascinated by the ways that it opens possibilities for people to interact with one another and the ways people manage to overcome the obstacles technologies pose in order to connect in meaningful ways. Perhaps that is what inspires me about people more than about technology.

What problem would you like to see technology solve? I am not a big believer in technology as a solution, but I think it can help *people* solve problems, and in that regard I would sure like to see us use technology to connect across boundaries and lessen the racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that keep us apart and lead to hatred and violence.

BU’s Artemis Project Visits Microsoft New England: An Interview with Soon-to-be 9th Graders Victoria Shen & Madaleine Cutone

(L) Madaleine Cutone, soon-to-be 9th grader at Newton North High School; (R) Victoria Shen, soon-to-be 9th grader at Quincy High Schools

(L) Madaleine Cutone (R) Victoria Shen | soon-to-be 9th graders at Newton North and Quincy High Schools

On July 11, Microsoft New England welcomed BU’s Artemis Project to our Technology Center and New England Research & Development (NERD) Center. The Artemis Project is a five-week summer program that introduces rising ninth grade girls to computer science, directed by undergraduate women at BU.

We’re always pumped to get kids excited about technology—and these kinds of hands-on experiences are what STEM education’s all about. You know, ditch the textbooks for a walk-through exploration of real-life researchers and their cool creations: from capturing the world in 3-D with Photosynth, to Bing Health & Fitness apps to playing and drawing on giant Surface boards with Surface Pens.

We got the chance to chat with two of the girls: soon-to-be ninth graders Victoria Shen and Madaleine Cutone, who’ll be attending Quincy High School and Newton North High School (respectively) this fall. Here’s what the girls had to say about their visit to Microsoft:

Microsoft New England: Why did you join The Artemis Project?

Victoria: I have always been interested in working with computers, and when my science teacher recommended me to join this program, I jumped at that opportunity to expand my knowledge about computers.

Madaleine: I wanted to learn about different types of Technology and Engineering fields to prepare me for college at first, but I had also realized that I had had a lot of success in my Tech Ed. and science classes at school. I decided to expand on that success and look further into the engineering and technology fields.

MSNE: What was your favorite thing about your visit to Microsoft New England?

V: My favorite part of my visit to Microsoft New England was getting the tour of the Exploratorium and getting to try out some of the things. The robot that takes your picture is so cool!!!

M: My personal favorite thing to do there was to play around on all of the different devices. I enjoyed getting to explore the way that Microsoft’s devices were programmed and put together.

MSNE: What was your favorite piece of technology that you used?

V: The Surface. It’s so cool that it’s a device that can easily change into a tablet or a laptop!

M: Cortana, the voice control option on many of Microsoft’s devices. It was interesting to me that Cortana didn’t obligate the user to say specific facts about the piece of information that they wanted to acquire.

MSNE: What do you want to be when you grow up?

V: I used to want to be a teacher, but now thanks to the Artemis Project, I think I want to be an IT Specialist.

M: I want to be a computer scientist when I grow up, but I think I would also enjoy working in the biomedical field.

Which Boston Restaurants Pass City Food Inspection? Cue: Microsoft Fellow’s New Windows App

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Step aside, Gordon Ramsay—there’s a new app in town that swaps your scathing insults for cold hard data. Harvard sophomore and Microsoft Chicago Fellow Gavin Sullivan recently developed an app now available in the Windows Store called Boston Food Inspections. And it just might change where you book your next dinner date.

“The idea originated when I was browsing the data portal released by the City of Chicago,” Sullivan told MSNE of his hometown. “The city released tons and tons of data that’s available to the public. I came across this interesting data on food inspections, and was surprised at how detailed it was and how many restaurants were on the list.”

“I thought it would be interesting to take that information and present it in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand.”

Sullivan’s Boston Food Inspections app visualizes the data as happy and frowny-faced emoticons based on the number of times a restaurant passes and fails different types of inspections. For example, “Food must be stored at a temperature below 50 degrees: pass/fail.”

The concept started with a massive data set of passes and fails from Boston restaurants. Sullivan then used Microsoft Excel to file through all of that data and sort it in a way that could be translated into an app.

“Excel allowed me to store things really nicely, narrow down the huge data set and create something that I could then present as an app,” Sullivan explained.

After modifying the data, he went to Project Siena (a Microsoft program in beta testing that anyone can download from the Windows Store). Siena allows you to create applications for your desktop using commands similar to Excel commands.

“Siena is easy to use for someone who’s new to coding and app development,” Sullivan said.

We asked Sullivan if he ever eats out anymore after seeing all of this food inspection data.

“To be honest, I’m not too much of a good cook,” he told us. “So I still eat out. But it’s definitely surprising to see how many things restaurants do wrong when looking at this data.”

Staff Spotlight: Brian aka “Bubba” Conley

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Name: Brian aka “Bubba” Conley
Currently the only Bubba @ Microsoft ;)

Hometown: Weymouth, MA

Job: Software Design Engineer in Test (SDET)

Years at Microsoft: 8

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: Anna’s Taqueria – I like a good burrito!

Last thing you Binged: Watertown MA, Town hall hours

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: Citizen Schools class on Game Theory with 6th graders from Browne Middle School in Chelsea.

What inspires you about technology? The ability to transform people’s lives for the better

What problem would you like to see technology solve? Improved, more connected, devices for police departments.  It seems that their technology tends to be lagging behind, where I strongly believe that their profession above others deserves cutting edge solutions.

Staff Spotlight: Nana Essilfie-Conduah

Nana Essilfie-ConduahNameNana Essilfie-Conduah

Hometown: London, England

Job: Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) – Enterprise Client (Windows Intune) – IW Portal

Years at Microsoft: 1

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: Fire & Ice

Last thing you Binged: Cortana vs Siri

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: The Intune IW Portal mobile redesign. The portal serves as the web UI and probably the main face that the average Intune customer will interact with. It’s pretty cool, as through the portal users manage their software and devices regardless of which device they access it from.

What inspires you about technology? The ability to take huge problems and visions and make them more easily comprehendible and visualized by the average person. Take simulations and graphical prototyping used in engineering, they go a long way to moving a thought from concept to ready for design or even implementation. Simulations that employ UI’s blow me away personally; the data visually does the speaking for you.

Related Reading: How Microsoft’s Cambridge team helped shape Siri-competitor Cortana via Boston Business Journal

GLEAM Celebrates Pride in Boston and Beyond

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Photo Cred: Matt Feczko | That’s our own Eric Frackleton, who wore the Halo Spartan suit for the entire parade.

The 44th annual Boston Pride Parade kicked off Saturday, June 14, drawing a record number of people. Over 10,000 people and 200 groups marched from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza led by Gov. Deval Patrick and parade Grand Marshall Mayor Marty Walsh—all decked out and dancing in the streets to celebrate New England’s robust gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. With over half a million in attendance, it was an event to remember.

This year, Microsoft New England had over 40 marchers from our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) team, carrying picket signs, banners, giving out swag, and showing support for the Boston Pride community (especially Eric Frackleton, who wore the Halo Spartan suit the entire time, kudos). We also marched to celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts. Yet ultimately, our vision is to transition “Pride” from being an event to being an ongoing celebration of our values of diversity & inclusion.

“This year’s pride was truly a spectacular event for GLEAM. So many people across the globe came together to help make this event happen, from creating consistent branding and marketing materials, to helping put together banners, to scooping ice cream at the wind down, to dozens of people showing up to march (despite the scary weather forecast),” said Matt Feczko, Program Manager and head of GLEAM New England. “I want to thank everyone for helping out with this year’s Pride event, especially my co-marshall Joe Shapiro! Joe, you outdid yourself, so thank you.”

And our pride definitely doesn’t end with the parade! GLEAM and Microsoft have launched a new, inclusive, and globally consistent brand and theme for its LGBT diversity and inclusion work: Honestly Proud, supported by three pillars: Honestly Diverse, Honestly Equal, and Honestly Me. These pillars are coming to life on a global scale, not only during Pride month, but all year long.

Happy Pride Month!

Check out our full Facebook album for more pics of GLEAM at the Boston Pride Parade!

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Photo Cred: Emil Cohen (l) & Mary Gray (r)

Microsoft Named Best Place to Work by Boston Business Journal

BBJ2How cool is this?

We are honored to have been recognized last night by the Boston Business Journal as the best large company for which to work in Massachusetts.

It was a wonderful event at the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston where Transwestern/RBJ was honored as the best small company at which to work, and Florence Electric was named best midsize company.  Congratulations to these winners and to all of this year’s nominees who play an integral role in driving Massachusetts’ innovation economy.

Our workplace culture offers the stability of working at an established, mature company that has impact at global scale with the entrepreneurial spirit of a startup.  We admire individuality and encourage candidates to come as they are and do what they love.

So if you’d like to join us here at the best large company to work for in Massachusetts, we’re hiring!  Please check out the jobs on our web site.   If you’re interested in roles beyond our state’s borders, check out what’s available on our corporate careers page.   As this page suggests, there’s never been a better time to explore your potential with Microsoft.

 

Staff Spotlight: Joe Shapiro

JoeWordpressNameJoe Shapiro

Hometown: Montclair, New Jersey

Job: Software Development Engineer, Enterprise Client Group

How did you come to work at Microsoft?
I was originally an intern in The Foundry at NERD working on Windows 8 apps pre-release. I love the people and the energy here, so coming back full time was a no-brainer. Check out my team’s app, Catch It, in the app store!

You’re a new member of Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM). What excites you about the mission?
Microsoft is one of the first companies in the world to have offered employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners and to include sexual orientation in its corporate nondiscrimination policy. GLEAM is the product of these pioneering efforts in workplace diversity. I love that GLEAM is dedicated to developing my career and involving me in the Microsoft community in such a way that not only addresses but values my identity.

GLEAM will have a presence at Boston Pride this year. What should we expect?
We’re really excited that GLEAM is aligning with the spirit of One Microsoft this year, making Pride a global effort. Our hope is to transition “Pride” from being an event to being an ongoing celebration of diversity & inclusion. For Boston, expect fun and swag with the usual suspects. Also expect a Spartan appearance. Is anyone else thinking #spartanselfie? Yes we did.

What’s something cool you have worked on recently?
I’ve been working on new features for mobile device management in Windows Intune, which better enable enterprises to give users access to company resources and apps on their device platforms of choice.

What inspires you about technology?
Coming from a visual arts background, I’m inspired most by the expressive quality of technology. Technology and art don’t have to be different things. I believe that tech acts as a tool to achieve new things as much as it inspires people to change the way they use what they already have.

What problem would you like to see technology solve?
A former computer science professor of mine does incredible research optimizing logistics and supply chains, energy, and—most excitingly—disaster management. I’m excited by the possibility of knowing the optimal course of action when the unthinkable happens.

Staff Spotlight: Sam Tulimat

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Name: Sam Tulimat

Hometown: Homs, Syria

Job: Program Manager, Enterprise Client Group

Time at Microsoft: Just turned 8 (months)

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: The Beat Hotel in Harvard Square. It just opened recently, and I love the food and the atmosphere.

What’s the last thing you Binged? South by Southwest conference in Austin.

What’s something cool you have worked on recently? I worked on features for virtualizing Office 365 for enterprises using Application Virtualization (APP-V). It sounds complicated, but virtualization is a pretty cool technology that enterprises use to deploy applications easily.

What inspires you about technology? I love technology’s ability and appetite for change. I am inspired by solving old problems by applying new technologies to them. The most exciting part for me is when technology can change human behavior in a positive manner.

What problem would you like to see technology solve? I would like for technology to help in solving big social problems such as poverty, wars, health, employment and education. I firmly believe that if we can fly planes and carry smartphones, we shouldn’t have people who are dying because of lack of access to water or vaccination.