Tag Archives: interns

New VR Garage project Microgravity Lab takes students to space – Microsoft Garage

Virtual reality can transport us to new lands that are near, far, or imagined. As a team of Garage interns found partnering with the Microsoft Hacking STEM and NASA Stem on Station teams, it can also demonstrate physics concepts and spark an interest in STEM careers. For the back-to-school season, we’re excited to announce the opportunity to try Microgravity Lab, a Microsoft Garage project. The VR experience for Windows Mixed Reality and corresponding lesson plan equip teachers with an engaging tool for teaching physics concepts by simulating microgravity. Interested educators can request an invite to try the VR application and corresponding lesson plans. Be sure to include your school name and plan for using the application into the form.

Bringing space into the classroom via Windows Mixed Reality

The Garage Internship is a unique, startup-style program in which teams of interns build projects in response to pitched challenges by Microsoft engineering teams. When this Vancouver intern team heard that the Microsoft Education team was looking for a creative new method way to illustrate the concept of microgravity through VR, they jumped at the opportunity to work on the project.

Microgravity Lab title screen, displaying 5 different expeiences, settings, and other options.An often-misunderstood concept, microgravity is difficult to simulate and understand in Earth’s gravity-laden environment. It is best explained through experiential learning. The Microgravity Lab VR lab experience for Windows Mixed Reality and its accompanying lessons gives teachers the tools to bring this experiential learning to their students.

As NASA Education Specialist Matthew E. Wallace shared, “The concept of microgravity is often misunderstood by students who learn about astronauts on the International Space Station. Providing a virtual reality world for them to explore the phenomena of life on orbit is an excellent way to engage students and solidify their comprehension of concepts related to force, mass and gravitational acceleration.”

Sabrina Ng, Design Intern for the project noted, “When I think of microgravity, I think of it as something you feel, not what you see per se. Thinking about how to visualize and communicate such an abstract concept without stimulating the physical senses was a really cool challenge.”

Microgravity Lab joins a collection of eight middle school lesson plans developed in partnership with NASA to celebrate 20 years of humans living in and working on the International Space Station.

Experiencing microgravity to understand Newton’s 2nd & 3rd Law

Microgravity Lab is designed for grades 6-8. Students can explore three VR modules to understand these physics principles in the context of microgravity on the moon:

  • Conservation of momentum
  • Newton’s 2nd Law
  • Newton’s 3rd Law

The team worked closely with teachers to develop the project, testing early versions of Microgravity Lab with 7th and 8th grade classes. They refined and updated the experienced based on the classroom feedback.

Implementing feedback from teachers and students, the interns added a feature to enable live Microgravity data analysis via Excel. “This project gives students the experience and the fun aspects of VR, but with Excel, we found a way to expose them to Data Analysis. Data is a very important part of our world and this is a great way to introduce it to them,” shared Rébecca Vézina-Côté, the Program Manager Intern for Microgravity Lab.

Introducing space into the classroom via Windows Mixed Reality

Hacking STEM to engage students

Microgravity Lab joins the Hacking STEM portfolio. The portfolio is created by teachers for teachers to offer hands-on, inquiry-driven, real-world lesson plans. The standards-aligned, interdisciplinary lessons lesson plans teach 21st century technical skills in the context of existing curricula. The Hacking STEM portfolio now includes 22 middle and high school lesson plans built by teachers for teachers on topics ranging from circuits and robotic hands to learning how sharks swim, and now, microgravity.

“There are companies moving towards commercializing space travel and package delivery, a project like this might give students an idea of what life might be like on a space station, and hopefully inspire them to want to go further with it and see it as a future path for them as an area of interest or a future career,” shared Adrian Pang, a Software Engineer Intern with the project.

The Microgravity Lab experience makes science more engaging and introduces these concepts to students in a way that inspires lifelong learning and passionate curiosity about the world around them.

The impact of VR in the classroom

Microgravity lab team photoThe Microsoft Education team has provided materials to enable a seamless introduction of VR to the classroom. When immersive technologies are deployed correctly and in a pedagogically consistent manner, they have the potential to support and expand curriculum, enhancing learning outcomes in ways that haven’t been previously affordable or scalable. Read more in this white paper detailing the impact of VR in the classroom.

Based on their own experience learning VR and Windows Mixed Reality, Garage interns have suggestions on how teachers can get started with VR. “Windows Mixed Reality does a great job of walking users through setting up the headset, then it’s just finding the app on the Microsoft Store, downloading it and installing it,” shared Rébecca. Crystal Song, another Software Engineering Intern continues, “I’d encourage teachers and school administrators to not see the tech as just a toy, but something that can teach. VR has a unique ability to teach through discovery, so allowing space and time for students to explore is key.”

James Burke, a longtime Hacking STEM developer partner who worked with the interns to test the project, encourages fellow educators to think outside the box to engage and challenge students. “Kids can do a lot more than people give them credit for.” In Burke’s engineering lab at Tyee Middle School, students work on project-based learning modules that can resemble college-level multidisciplinary assignments. With future-ready equipment and real-world projects to tackle, his award-winning classroom engages with students at every level. VR is just another way to spark that passion in students.

Request an invitation to try the project

To get started with Microgravity Lab for your classroom, request an invite to try the VR application. Include your school name and plan for using the application into the form.

More lesson plans and classroom materials are available at the Hacking STEM website.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Built by Garage Interns, find the best movie, powered by the Microsoft Recommenders collection – Microsoft Garage

Challenged with rethinking how to build a movie recommendation experience, a team of Garage interns based out of Cambridge, MA created a sample app and corresponding documentation that shows how to use recommendation algorithms in an app experience. Today, we’re excited to share their project ahead of its debut at the RecSys’19 conference next week: Recommenders Engine Experience Layout, a Microsoft Garage project. This work joins a collection of best practices and tools for recommendation engines available on a larger Recommenders GitHub. Explore both on the Recommenders GitHub repository and Recommenders Engine Example Layout GitHub repository respectively.

Bringing recommendation tools to apps

Recommender Engine Example Layout Screenshot 1Recommenders Engine Example Layout, focuses on recommendation algorithm experiences that take place in apps and provides a detailed breakdown of how developers can leverage the work by the sponsoring team. The Azure AI Customer Advisory Team, or AzureCAT AI works with such customers as ASOS to incorporate enhanced recommenders algorithms into their solutions. The team was inspired to partner with a team of Garage interns upon continued feedback that expanding on their popular Recommenders repository with a focus on apps would be helpful to customers who already have an app infrastructure.

“The key thing we wanted to demonstrate out of this was showing the recommenders we have, in a real-world setting that’s relevant to apps,” shares Scott Graham the Senior Data Scientist on Azure AI CAT who oversaw the project.”Often when we work with customers, they already have complex infrastructure and want to see how they can incorporate these algorithms into an app. This was a great opportunity to illustrate and document this.”

The Garage project documents how to build a sample app powered by the Recommenders algorithms, featuring the MovieLens dataset, one of the largest open source collections of movie ratings. Put by Bruce Gatete, Program Manager Intern for the project. “It provides an end-to-end demonstration of how developers can build fully function cross-platform applications that use these algorithms.”

Recommender Engine Example Layout Team photoSample app key features

The sample app developers can build includes a wide variety of features, including:

  • Browse a large dataset of movies
  • Select and view movie descriptions
  • Create your own personalized favorites list
  • Switch between different recommender algorithms
  • Switch between pre-generated personas or create your own

The Azure AI CAT team also has a continuous goal to accelerate the speed with which they’re able to partner with customers on this solution. Scott continues, “This was a great proof point that we could do this in the space of a summer timeframe: can we use these algorithms to quickly putt together an app? And we did!”

In addition to trying this project, developers can explore the original Recommenders repository which has recommendation algorithm tools and best practices such as a popular deep dive into the SAR model or an example of deploying these models in a production setting.

Built using Xamarin.Forms

The Recommenders Engine app is built using Xamarin.Forms and supports iOS, Android, and UWP platforms. “It was really great leveraging Xamarin Forms to be able to deploy this across all these platforms so quickly. I was really impressed with the speed of that coming together,” shared Scott Graham, who oversaw the project from the sponsoring team.

Try it Out

Recommenders Engine Example Layout and the Recommenders collection are available on GitHub worldwide. Try them out, create your own apps and experiences, and share feedback to the team.

Become a Garage Intern. We’re hiring

The Garage is hiring for the 2020 Winter & Summer seasons! Here you can learn more details about the internship and how to apply.

Why become a Garage intern? The Garage opens doors to interesting and challenging projects and collaborative partners. Michelle shares her favorite part about the internship “I enjoyed getting to know my team very well over the summer–there’s an incredible amount of talent on our team, and it’s awesome getting to work with a team of people my age and truly have a say in the design and final result of our product.”

Check out past Garage internship projects such as: Seeing AI, Web TS, Ink to Code, or Earth Lens.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

‘Microsoft the Musical’ features summer interns in a singing, dancing romp across tech giant’s campus

Well, the interns at Microsoft sure had fun this summer.

While there may be a documentary coming to Netflix that dives deep into what makes Bill Gates tick, the release of “Microsoft the Musical” on YouTube on Friday clearly shows what makes heels click at the software giant he co-founded.

The 8-minute number, which took us about that much time to convince ourselves it was in fact a real thing, features singing and dancing software engineers and data scientists clad in primary-colored clothing. The whole thing is the work of 150 people, including interns and employees.

A description for the video on YouTube is written by Liam McGregor, a data science intern credited with directing, producing and helping to write the musical.

“‘Microsoft the Musical’ was dreamt up and led by interns spending the summer of 2019 at Microsoft,” McGregor wrote. “This Tony Awards-style musical theater opening number is just one of many passion projects that came to life because we were encouraged to bring our whole selves to work. And that’s what we did: 150 people came in on mornings, weekends, and nights to create this outside of (and in addition to) their day jobs.”

After opening with a nod to Gates, cast members dance across the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters campus and throughout buildings. A whole host of company accomplishments and product names are dropped throughout — Windows, Office, PowerPoint, Surface, Xbox, HoloLens, Minecraft, Azure … even Clippy gets a mention. And the lyrics, posted in full here, also manage to poke some fun (sorry, Windows Phone):

It’s all happening here…
The standard for your office and your home
All happening here
All around the world our products are well-known!
Except for when we tried to make a phone!

“It’s all happening here,” is the constant refrain from the chorus. And while it sure does appear that being an intern at Microsoft affords young people the chance to work on some cutting-edge stuff, a break in the music does lay things on a little thick, as two characters are shown chatting in a company cafeteria.

“How is it that everyone here does so much,” a woman asks her co-worker at the 5:25 mark of the video.

“I know. I don’t get it. Maybe there’s something in the water,” the man replies.

“May I please have a latte and … an extra shot of whatever ingredient it is that makes people here so successful?” the woman says as she orders a beverage.

Alas, there is no special ingredient, because everyone brings their own! Back to the singing and dancing!

(YouTube screen grab via Microsoft the Musical)

“Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” McGregor wrote in his director’s note. “We hope that this speaks to every person who dreams of being part of something big — and especially to those who’ve been wrongly told they can’t be. At some point, we were all in your shoes. You CAN, you SHOULD, and you WILL.”

Here’s a list of credits for those involved in the production, as it shows up on YouTube — along with their titles for jobs they held at Microsoft in the summer of 2019:

  • Produced and Directed by … Liam McGregor (data scientist intern)
  • Written by … Liam McGregor (data scientist intern) and Trip Master (explorer intern)
  • Executive Produced by … Diego Rejtman (GM, global university recruiting) and Sacha Nunn (culture program manager)
  • Choreographed and Co-Directed by … Swetha Prabakaran (explorer intern)
  • Protagonists (in order of appearance) … Ryan Hecht (program manager intern), Leslie Richardson (program manager), Alyssa Raqueno (explorer intern)
  • Bill Gates, the idea … Eleanor Lewis (software engineer intern)
  • Composed by … Joshua Yang (explorer intern), Trip Master (explorer intern), Liam McGregor (data scientist intern)
  • Orchestrated and Conducted by … Peter Yang (software engineer intern)
  • Director of Photography … Stephen Hitchcock (software engineer)
  • Sr. Production Manager … Morgan Dukes (marketing intern)
  • Associate Cinematographer and AD … Rishi Raj (software engineer)
  • Assistant Choreographer and AD … Lizzy Lee

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Author: Microsoft News Center