Tech.Global Connects with Microsoft
Tech.Global is making connections with Microsoft. The 100% Engagement Experience housed within the Office of Global Initiatives empowers students to master a wide variety of programming languages through real-world projects.
In the past two months, the students have experimented with Azure, the Microsoft cloud computing platform. According to Victoria Ogino, a Coordinator with Tech.Global, Azure skills are highly desirable in the current job market.
“Azure is a huge part of Microsoft’s platform and the future of their app development and they’re having a difficult time finding people who know how to develop in Azure,” she said. “Making connections with Microsoft could mean job opportunities for our students who will be learning to code in Azure.”
A higher education representative with Microsoft initially spoke to the Tech.Global team about setting up an Azure instance, but then became interested in the vision of the unit: enhancing students’ ability to code in a highly collaborative environment, while also developing technology solutions for global challenges. That representative, Chris Galli, met with the Tech.Global team in March to learn more about the team’s projects and workflow.
“We hope to establish a working relationship with Microsoft because they are a great company when it comes to education and technology and there is a strong synergy between Tech.Global and the kinds of things Microsoft wants to see happen in higher education,” said Ash Scheder Black, Director of Tech.Global.
A Solution for UA Passports
Tech.Global Student Developer Stephen Smith is starting a position as a Software Engineer with Microsoft this July. During Galli’s visit to the University of Arizona, Smith demonstrated to Galli his work on a kiosk for the UA Passports office.
“It includes a queuing system where you can sign up for an appointment time,” Smith said. “It will tell you the estimated appointment time or possible changes to that time. It sends alerts straight to your cell phone or email. The benefit is that you don’t have to physically wait at the passports office anymore.”
The development phase for the kiosk is complete and now the Tech.Global team is conducting user testing.
Streamlining the UA Travel Process
Another Student Developer with Tech.Global, Eddie Ornelas, showcased his work on the UATravel project during the Microsoft visit. Eventually, people traveling on official UA business will be able to enter data into the system, which will be saved for their future use. Ornelas is also using data visualization to highlight the location of travelers and potential threats.
“This helps our Risk Management Team be better informed about where UA travelers are and what might affect them based on the data we get,” he said. “The Risk Management Team can see alerts throughout the world. The data refreshes every 15 minutes. We also built a feature to send out messages to individual travelers or groups of travelers based on a certain region. If the alert is important enough, it will show up right when they log into email.”
A Vision for Virtual Collaborations
Robert Johnson and Hazza Alkaabi, Virtual Reality developers for Tech.Global, shared with Galli a VR environment that the Tech.Global team is creating.
“It’s basically a virtual classroom environment, allowing two users with VR headsets to participate in the experience,” said Johnson. “It’s kind of like Skype but in VR. Professors from different institutions could bring up scientific models, for example, in a shared space. This really has a lot of possibilities for international collaborations.”
Looking to the Future
Scheder Black plans to continue the dialogue with Microsoft in order to provide his students with the best experience possible.
“I learned that Microsoft has engagements on multiple levels, with local, national, and international divisions that are set up to support higher education,” he said. “They are a company that supports higher education, diversity, and inclusiveness and are interested in the global aspect of what we do.”