June, 2011 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

June, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft helping develop students skills and product awareness at Birmingham City University




    Birmingham City University has embedded Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) and MSDNAA resources into it’s curriculum.

    “We’re able to engage students in achieving industry recognized certifications which will significantly increase their opportunities of employment.”
    Rehan Bhana, ITA Manager, Birmingham University

    Employability is an explicit priority across the whole of Birmingham City University “deeply embedded into all our courses”, particularly at the Faculty of Technology Engineering and the Environment.

    “It’s achieved by a combination of student support structures, excellent networking with business, and attention to curriculum content, with full use of ‘vendor specific’ programmes including Microsoft ITA”
    Associate Dean Peter Rayson.

    “It’s not just a short-skills based course,” says Rehan Bhana. “It’s a career development plan.”

    A student enrolling for BSc (Hons) Information Communications Technology and Computer Networks, as well as associated professional development programmes, will encounter ITA material within an industry scenario, proving their knowledge and skills to gain awards such as Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).

    One of fifty across the globe, Birmingham City University was nominated to pilot the delivery of the new MTA program. Around 100 ITA students attempted one, two and some, three separate areas of study. Over 150 exams were taken in the first term of academic year 2010/2011 with a success rate of 60% for a pass mark of 70%.

    “Using the MTA exams as formative assessments has not only increased the value of our globalised curriculum but enhanced the student learning experience by introducing a feedback mechanism from beyond the classroom”  Rehan Bhana

    By developing their competitiveness in the IT Skills market, students from Birmingham University have found that they stand out when applying for summer jobs and work placements above others with this skills gap.

    “Our students emerge as confident hybrid managers with a unique mix of technical and managerial competency, whose skills are in demand in the IT industry and beyond.” – Birmingham course description.

    With the arrival of cloud computing, having strengths in many area’s of IT is fast becoming more sort after.

    A recent Microsoft White Paper on the impact of Cloud technology on IT careers, (A Guide to the Cloud. Career Opportunity for IT Pros) suggests that the gap will widen as businesses strive to come to terms with profound change.

    “Put bluntly, the role of the ІT professional is being transformed, demanding a new set of technical and managerial skills, blurring the lines between business and technical decision making and placing ІT much closer to the heart of business strategy.”

    Engagement with ITA brings benefit not only to IT students but to all students and staff, because it makes a very comprehensive range of Microsoft software available via MSDNAA. With the wide menu of available programmes and qualifications makes it possible to deliver significant areas of staff Career Professional Development (CPD) efficiently and cost-effectively.

    “The University has made significant savings,” says Rehan Bhana going on to explain that on two recent occasions the ITA delivered in-house CPD for both academic and technical staff in the area of MS Project Server Microsoft Project Server and Windows 7. The overall commercial value of these courses would exceed £30,000, delivering the programs in-house has reduced this cost by 30-40%.

    If you would like to share your experience of MSDNAA and IT Academy please get in touch.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Do you want your University to become a Microsoft BizSpark Network Partner



    Microsoft BizSpark: Helping startups succeed with all the right resources

    Microsoft® BizSpark™ is a global program that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.

    BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate.

    All we need to proceed is for the university to assign a programme owner. There is a straightforward agreement, which you may need to pass by your legal department, but just to give you some assurance, this has not caused any issue for the more than 2,000 organisations around the world that have already signed up as Network Partners.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Universities now becoming Microsoft BizSpark Network Partners

    What is BizSpark?

    BizSpark is an innovative new program that unites start-up’s with entrepreneurial and technology resources in a global community with a common goal of supporting and accelerating the success of a new generation of high-potential start-up’s.

    BizSpark provides fast, easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and production licenses of server products; professional technical support from Microsoft; and connections to a global community of business experts who can help guide you through the hurdles of growing your business.

    Download more details about BizSpark which describes the programme benefits and more.

    Visit the Microsoft BizSpark website.

    Visit the Microsoft Startup Zone.


    Eligibility requirements are minimal: If you're a privately held company building a software-based product or service (even using open source code), in business for fewer than three years, and with less than USD$1M in annual revenue, you're in!

    How to enrol

    To enrol, you must be sponsored by a BizSpark Network Partner. This is where University Innovation and Enterprise sections can offer a huge benefit to your start-up and entrepreneurs.

    BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate in becoming a BizSpark Network Partner.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The Power of HTML5



    Disney's New Tron: Legacy Site Comes to Life Using IE9 with HTML5

    After my recent visits to numerous Universities across the UK, I am aware a number of you have been teaching HTML5 for a number of years as part of your curricula. Therefore I thought you may be interested in the following examples of HTML5.

    Check out what Disney Publishing was able to produce using Internet Explorer 9 hardware acceleration and HTML5.

    The website takes Tron fans through an original, interactive adventure, raising the bar for what an interactive, graphic novel can be. IE9 features such as hardware-accelerated HTML5 canvas, audio tags, and fast JavaScript engine were critical in bringing the site they imagined to life.

    There are also numerous other show case sites from BMW, SKY, Wired, Top Gear and many more… the sites are specifically designed and developed for IE9 and HTML5 visit the beauty of the web showcase site to see the power of IE9 and HTML5.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The development of Windows Phone applications in academia


    “Phone Apps” are fast becoming a huge growth market and I know many UK institutions are looking to how to incorporate mobile development within the academic curricula.

    Additional for Windows Phone development many vendors and partners are now looking at how to develop mobile apps for Windows Phone based on XNA, Silverlight, HTML5 and .NET technologies. This has resulted in a demand for developers with these skills sets..

    This opportunity will no doubt only get bigger with the recent announcement of Windows 8 and to help academics, researchers and the development community understand Microsoft’s future technologies the Build Conference has been created. The Build conference will take place 13th – 16th of September 2011 and as UK academic, administrator or researcher you will receive and educational discount for attendance.


    Additionally with Microsoft DreamSpark, the student and academic community can get for FREE the same tools professional developers and designers have, and additionally allow students and academic to upload Windows Phone applications and the ability to sell mobile applications via the Windows Phone MarketPlace.


    Using DreamSpark means you also get a FREE Development App Hub account waiving the $99 registration fee and giving you the first 100 application submissions for free.


    We have additionally supported academics with curricula resources via the Faculty Connection resources site. The Faculty Connection resource allows you to download an entire curricula on Windows Phone Development and we have provided numerous additional resources for academics wishing to teach Microsoft development Technologies and software to to students.

    We have additionally built numerous video and online resources aimed specifically at Windows Phone developers for example you can watch Rob Miles from the University of Hull, screencast containing a step-by-step demonstration of the process to upload your first Windows Phone 7 application to the AppHub.

    The AppHub contains a vast amount of information and FAQ on how to develop for Windows Phone. simply visit http://developer.windowsphone.com


    We really look forward to hearing about your implementation of Windows Phone development.


    Finally if you would like to share your experience or discuss the opportunities of Windows Phone development within academia or working with potential vendors on student projects and applications. Please don't hesitate to get in touch via the Faculty Connection UK Linkedin Group.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Special Event UK Academia RE: the Kinect Windows SDK beta



    The Microsoft academic team are delighted to confirm the focus of our “Special Applied Research on Windows” Academic event on the 21st June is the Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 

    The Kinect for Windows SDK beta is a programming toolkit for application developers. It enables the academic and enthusiast communities’ easy access to the capabilities offered by the Microsoft Kinect device connected to computers running the Windows 7 operating system.

    The Kinect for Windows SDK beta, includes drivers, rich APIs for raw sensor streams and natural user interfaces, installation documents, and resource materials. It provides Kinect capabilities to developers who build applications with C++, C#, or Visual Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

    This is a UK Academic Event only! Please ensure you register with a valid .ac.uk email address to ensure your place is confirmed!

    The event will take place at the Microsoft UK Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG.

    21 June 2011 Kinect for Windows SDK Agenda

    · 09:30 Arrivals – Registration

    · 10:00 Welcome – introductions, Geoff Hughes, Developer Platform Evangelism

    · 10:10 Highlights from Kinect SDK launch

    · 10:30 The Science of Kinect, Andrew Fitzgibbon, PhD, Microsoft Research Cambridge

    · 11:15 BREAK

    · 11:40 Collaborating with Microsoft Research, Kenji Takeda , PhD, Microsoft Research

    · 11:50 Overview of Kinect SDK, Dave Brown, PhD, Microsoft Technology Centre

    · 12:30 Q&A / Next Steps

    · 12:45 Networking and Lunch

    · 13:30 Close

    If appropriate, we ask each academic visitor to bring a graduate student to the event who works on applied research topics.

    To apply for a place

    Register via the web here: URL: Invite Code: F58492

    This is a UK Academic Event only! Please ensure you register with a valid .ac.uk email address to ensure your place is confirmed!


    Resources: Kinect For Windows SDK beta

     Download the SDK Beta, Check out the Kinect Quick Starts and view the Kinect Project Gallery on Coding 4 Fun



  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Biology Initiative - new technology and tools to the area of bioinformatics and biology


    (MBI) Microsoft Biology Initiative is an effort in Microsoft Research to bring new technology and tools to the area of bioinformatics and biology.

    This initiative is comprised of two primary components, the Microsoft Biology Foundation (MBF) and the Microsoft Biology Tools (MBT).

    Microsoft Biology Foundation
    The Microsoft Biology Foundation (MBF) is a language-neutral bioinformatics toolkit built as an extension to the Microsoft .NET Framework—initially aimed at the area of Genomics research. Currently, it implements a range of parsers for common bioinformatics file formats; a range of algorithms for manipulating DNA, RNA, and protein sequences; and a set of connectors to biological web services such as NCBI BLAST. MBF is available under an open source license, and executables, source code, demo applications, and documentation are freely downloadable from the project page. MBF 2.0 beta 1 is now available for download. Learn more...

    Microsoft Biology Tools
    The Microsoft Biology Tools (MBT) are a collection of tools that enable biology and bioinformatics researchers to be more productive in making scientific discoveries. The tools in this catalog are free and, when available, include links to the source code and open source collaboration projects. Browse the catalog...

    Related Research Groups

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What Microsoft application can be virtualised and supported?


    We get lots of questions over what applications can be virtualised and supported by Microsoft…

    The following web site from the Windows Server teams gives you comprehensive guidance on all Microsoft products and if they can be virtualised and support using products such as HyperV, VMWare, Citrix etc.

    Server Virtualization Validation Program






  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    UK Office Trainers join round table discussion with Microsoft Learning



    On Monday 13th June 2011, I attended a number of meetings at the University of York, UK, the University had a specific event entitle Office 2010 and Beyond! after the event the University of York IT Academy team hosted a round table event with 17 Microsoft Certified Trainers ‘MCTs’ who specialise in training Microsoft Office technologies. 


    The trainers, many of whom had travelled from all over the UK, joined Andrew Bettany, from the University of York IT Academy and member of the Microsoft Learning Advisory Council, and Wendy Johnson, Senior Product Manager, Office Certification at Microsoft Learning (Redmond, WA) and myself from Microsoft UK.

    The discussion was organised to follow an IT Industry event at the University’s new Ron Cooke Hub building. During the afternoon we showcased what is new and "cool" in the Office/SharePoint arena - each presenter had just 30 minutes each to impress the audience of nearly 100 attendees. 



    Following the public event, 17 MCTs held an informal roundtable discussion with Wendy which provoked lively discussion and provided a range of suggestions and feedback regarding Microsoft Office Specialist certification, training and the value of being an "IW" (information worker) MCT. 

    Andrew Bettany, who organised the event, said "It has been a fantastic day.  Particularly great to see so many MCTs attend the event, readily engaging with each other, sharing ideas, best practice and exploring ways to develop and improve the program and community.  There was a real eagerness to repeat this type of event again."

    The discussions were extremely interesting.  It was clear that the academic sector has seen large growth, year on year, for "MOS" (Microsoft Office Specialist) certification. Collectively the group estimated that the audience had taught 250,000+ learners during their careers.  There were some fascinating insights from MCTs on how they value the status of being an MCT whilst at the same time most preferred to describe themselves as "Certified Office Experts”.

    The Microsoft IT Academy Programme offers educational establishments extensive benefits and the opportunity to deliver Microsoft’s popular I.T. Training and Qualifications to their Students, Staff and wider community.

    Click here to find out which Microsoft qualifications you could deliver.

    Members benefits include:

    • FREE Microsoft eLearning (over 250 courses)
    • FREE Microsoft Software Licenses
    • Massive discounts on Microsoft Certifications and Courseware
    • FREE MSDNAA & TechNet Plus Subscription
    • FREE Microsoft Certified Trainer Membership
    • And much, much more.....
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    High Performance Computing Training Resources for academia



    For those interested in High Performance Computing using Windows HPC Server 2008R2 and Windows Azure please see the following training materials available at download.microsoft.com

    A number of academic worldwide including participants from TCCAP, collaborators from MSR Cloud futures conference, and Azure, HPC TSPs are already using the samples and utilities we exclusively provide as an important part of their Azure solutions. 

    The online version allows you to access the content quickly, and more conveniently.  This training kit is intended for use by people who are familiar with Windows HPC Server 2008R2, and wish to learn how to use the Azure burst scenario, which is described in the article Windows HPC with Burst to Windows Azure: Application Models and Data Considerations.

    Link to all MSDN Training courses online:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/trainingcourses

    Link to HPC with Azure burst Training course: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/HPCAzureBurstTrainingCourse

    Status Update on Sp2 training content: We are almost ready with 3-4 exciting new samples that is coming at the beginning of July that covers MPI on azure, invoking Scheduler REST interface on Phone 7 (Mango) and BLAST DNA sequencing with REST enabled web interface. 

    Preview video of MPI on azure, invoking Scheduler REST interface on Phone 7 (Mango)


    Parametric Sweep

    Parametric sweep provides a straightforward development path for solving delightfully parallel problems on a cluster (sometimes referred to as "embarrassingly parallel" problems, which have no data interdependencies or shared state precluding linear scaling through parallelization). For example, prime numbers calculation for a large range of numbers. Parametric sweep applications run multiple instances of the same program on different sets of input data, stored in a series of indexed storage items, such as files on disk or rows in a database table. Each instance of a parametric sweep application runs as a separate task, and many such tasks can execute concurrently, depending on the amount of available cluster resources.


    Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is an architectural style designed for building distributed systems. The SOA actors are services: independent software packages that expose their functionality by receiving data (requests) and returning data (responses). SOA is designed to support the distribution of an application across computers and networks, which makes it a natural candidate for scaling on a cluster. The SOA support provided by Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 is based on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), a .NET framework for building distributed applications. Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP1 improves SOA support by hosting WCF services inside Windows Azure nodes, in addition to on-premises nodes.

    Excel Offloading

    The execution of compute intensive Microsoft Excel workbooks with independent calculations can be sometimes scaled using a cluster. The Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP1 integration with Windows Azure supports User Defined Functions (UDFs) offloading. Excel workbook calculations that are based on UDFs defined in an XLL file can be installed on the cluster’s nodes (on-premises and/or Windows Azure nodes). With the XLL installed on the cluster, the user can perform the UDF calls remotely on the cluster instead of locally on the machine where the Excel workbook is open.

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