Don’t we look cool like a jazz band from Bennett’s Lane?
Last week, John Warren (University Relations Manager, Microsoft Research Asia) and I hosted Kevin Schofield for a week, visiting several universities on the eastern sea board (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane).
My manager (Ben English) realised the strategic importance of this opportunity and gave me the directions to establish senior level relationships with senior academics and our local subsidiary. which I am extremely grateful.
Our first stop was my alma mater, Monash University. We were warmly received by Prof Ron Weber and members of the Faculty of IT SLT. We had a discussion over the current and short term enrolment situation, the faculty research strengths and how MS Research and Australia can provide multi levels of support for the Faculty. This level of support range from combined efforts to engage high school students’ interest in IT, guest lecture opportunities, sourcing of final year projects, internship and recruitment opportunities, Imagine Cup and different research opportunities with Microsoft Research.
Nex stop was the CSSE Department – University of Melbourne. Kevin gave presentation to the students and staff and presented an award to a PhD student who won a converted MSR Asia fellowship (1 out of 2 winners from AU). Microsoft Australia also sponsored three academic prizes for the top performing students from the Masters of Distributing Computing (MEng) program.
The director of the program – Dr Rajkumar Buyya who heads the Grid Computing and Distributed Systems (GRIDS) Laboratory, one of the biggest grid computing research labs in Australia. The research output, contribution and commercial technology adoption of this lab were extremely impressive. We also had a demo of Alchemi .NET, open source software framework that allows the aggregation of computing power of networked machines into a virtual supercomputer (desktop grid) and to develop applications to run on the grid based on .NET Framework.
Our last stop Melbourne based university was the Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies -Swinburne University. Swinburne’s priorities and research focus was slightly different from the other Melbourne universities. They even have a group focus on Astrophysics & Computational Science. Kevin gave a similar presentation to the university. That took me by surprise was the composition of audience, we had a few industrial designer lecturers and PhD students who had a strong interested in Kevin’s “The Era of Human Scale Computing”. We had a very lively exchange of ideas on human centric computing.
The School of IT – University of Sydney was our only uni stop in NSW. Kevin presented the other MSR fellowship award to Florian Verhein. Our host, Prof Albert Zomaya (Head) was extremely gracious host and was very supportive on a on-going relationship with Microsoft. Our relationship with academics is highly valued by MSR and MS Australia and we are grateful for good partners like USYD.
Before we made our way to Brisbane, Clair our super efficient PR Manager had schedule a series of interviews for Kevin with ABC and different publishing outlets. Kevin was extremely helpful and worked very hard to accommodate our tight schedule. He even did a 6.20AM morning live radio in Brisbane. That’s commitment to the company for you.
The highlight of our trip was the launch of the Microsoft QUT eResearch Centre led by Profs Paul Roe and Binh Pham. After the launch event, I spent extra time interacting with the research centre staffs to find out more about their research topics. It was pretty amazing the research these PhD students are undertaking. I was also able to convince these students and their academic mentor – Dr On Wong to accept my invitation to take part in the 2007 Australia Imagine Cup. If you think 2006 was a landmark year for Australia Imagine Cup, I can’t wait to see the quality of entries we are getting for 2007.
This trip has been an amazing trip, I got to visit several key universities in one sitting and established a direct relationship with members of the school/faculties. Plus I had numerous opportunities to engage the faculty members directly and work out the different avenues we could work better to encourage women in IT, invigorate interests in IT courses and provide industrial/research support for the students. Plus I got to work along side with Kevin. It’s a win, win, win! A big thank you to John Warren for his fantasic organisational skills, the week long trip went without a gitch. Last but not least, Kevin for making the trip to Australia. Hope to see you again in Aug.
Videos shown during Kevin’s presentation.
Playanywhere and Bluetooth Photosynch – MS Research
Career in Computer Science – MS Research