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In an exciting new partnership, Microsoft Stores across the country are teaming up with FIRST robotics teams to provide Kinect hardware and software development kits along with technical support. “It just seemed like a perfect fit,” explained Steph Ramsey, a Community Development Specialist at the Mission Viejo, CA Microsoft store. “We are thrilled to be able to use our resources to sponsor and support teams that are as passionate about technology and technology education as we are.” The 14 Microsoft stores are deeply committed to community engagement and promoting technology education to students. As Steph put it, “These kids are the future engineers and scientists and by supporting their curiosities we are enabling them to grow towards their full potential.” clip_image004

The partnership will focus on Microsoft Stores providing both Kinect hardware and Kinect software development kits to FIRST teams as well as a space for teams to develop and display their robotics creations. In addition, Microsoft Stores will be able to use their technical resources and know-how to both assist and challenge the teams as they create and develop their technical skills.

clip_image006Developed in order to better engage with technology enthusiasts, the first Microsoft Store opened in 2009. Determined to engage with the local community, the stores have already developed partnerships with several teams such as Code Orange (FIRST Team 3476). As seen in the photos, the Mission Viejo store was transformed into a robotics fanatics’ playground on December 10, 2010, when Code Orange team members shared their experiences with customers and store patrons. “We loved the opportunity to work with the local Mission Viejo Store, it was a perfect opportunity for our team members to engage with others passionate about technology in a space designed just for that purpose” noted Dr. Shelley Nordman, mentor of Code Orange.

If you are interested in partnering with a Microsoft Store to learn more about Microsoft technologies or spread the word about FIRST please find the store closest to you and e-mail skills@microsoft.com!