The other day the local Microsoft Technology Center played host to a group of students from the John D O'Bryant school from Boston. Our MTCs as we call them are real centers of high technology where Microsoft technical experts work with our customers to create "proof of concept" code for difficult software and systems projects. There is an impressive amount of technology in place including enough computers to require reinforcing the floor under the computer room.
Over the last couple of months the MTC has had a number of school visits though. It's been a chance for us at Microsoft to talk a bit about careers in the computer industry, explain a bit about where Microsoft fits in the business, and generally be a part of the community supporting the educational process. As part of the last couple of visits I've had a role in demonstrating some software and hardware in the case of some robots I demonstrated for one group. It's gotten me in front of groups of students again.
I must say that I really enjoy talking to students. Now some of my friends would say that I like talking to any audience and they wouldn't really be wrong. But there is something special about talking to students. Sure students can be difficult at times and there are times when it is hard to hold their attention. But in general I find that students really want to learn. They welcome the chance to ask questions, especially questions they think will put an adult on the spot, but that is what education is all about isn’t it? I miss that interaction with students. I miss hearing the questions. I miss hearing the "wow" when some new concepts clicks in their head. I miss the students in the classroom.
Over the last year I have spent a lot of time talking to groups of teachers and other adults. That has been very rewarding. But I think that one of my goals for next school year is going to try to maximize the number of student groups I talk to. I love computer science. I’d like to try to get more students excited about the possibilities and maybe help them to catch some of my enthusiasm. I can’t be everywhere though. I’m hoping to get other software and computer professionals into some classrooms in other parts of the country. Maybe we can as a profession get more kids excited about what we are doing. I think we owe it to the kids to try.