Building for the future: Helping students become global innovators

Every year, professionals from around the globe join us at Build, our premier developer conference, to learn about new technologies, gain hands-on experience, and level-up their development skills. It’s one of my favorite events, and this year, it’s getting even better as we extend these opportunities to students.

For the first time, Build attendees are invited to bring up to two family members aged 14-21 to participate with them—for free. We’ll also bring in local Seattle-area high school students to participate in some of these learning opportunities. The newly created Student Zone at Build is designed to provide an immersive educational experience for the students and attendees, with access to a Surface-equipped lab, on-site experts, a career center, workshops, tech talks and live co-coding opportunities. Naturally, there will be Minecraft—and so much more. Students can talk to cloud engineers, explore data with Azure Cognitive Services, learn about how to code on GitHub and use Visual Studio Code. There will be opportunities learn more about AI and explore the most important technologies and skills developers of tomorrow will need.

Microsoft is committed to empowering the next generation of creators to pursue their dreams through access to technology, resources and learning opportunities. One way we encourage students to break boundaries and address real problems is through the Imagine Cup, which has seen students from around the world continually raise the innovation bar through teamwork. Now in its 17th year, the competition empowers tomorrow’s talent to use their creativity, passion and diverse perspectives to solve the world’s most pressing issues.

Momentum for the Imagine Cup continues to grow—more than 2 million students from 190 countries have competed in Imagine Cup since it started—and this year, I’m excited the World Championship will be held during Build. In fact, the Imagine Cup champion will be announced to kick off Day One of the event and will be immediately followed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote.

Returning host, Corey Sanders, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Solutions, is especially fitting for the Imagine Cup—he holds four patents and was the creator of the Infrastructure-as-a-service offering for Azure, so he’s deeply familiar with the innovation cycle on many dimensions. Last year’s MC, Kate Yeager, is also making a return appearance to call the action.

Corey SandersKate Yeager

To get to the World Championship, teams must win their highly competitive regional competitions, which are wrapping up soon. These finalists have developed truly life- and world-changing ideas, like last year’s winning concept, smartARM, a robotic hand that uses a camera embedded in the palm to recognize objects and calculate the most appropriate grip for the object.

This year’s champion will take home $100,000 USD, $50,000 USD in Azure credits, mentorship from the team at M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) and a mentoring session with Satya Nadella. A team of business and technology professionals will collectively decide the 2019 winning team, and you can watch the championship via live stream on the Build site on Monday, May 6 at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. If you are interested in attending Build and haven’t signed up, there is still time to register.

Judges include:

  • Amy Hood, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, who leads Microsoft’s worldwide finance operations, including acquisitions, treasury activities, tax planning, accounting and reporting, and internal audit and investor relations.

Amy Hood

  • Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, who built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless. Her firm is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBTQ.

Arlan Hamilton

  • Amjad Masad, CEO and founder of it, who has dedicated his career to making programming more accessible. A founding engineer of Codecademy, he helped build the platform that introduced tens of millions of people to coding. He later joined Facebook to lead the JavaScript Infrastructure team to build and maintain developer tools like React.js. With Repl.it, he’s focused on building collaborative developer tools that lower the barriers to entry for building and shipping software.

Amjad Masad

Each year, I’m more and more impressed by the solutions created by Imagine Cup students. And I’m thrilled that hundreds of students will be joining us at Build this year to form lifelong memories while exploring what could become a future career in tech. The future is in their hands, and I’m confident they’re up for the challenge!