January, 2013 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

January, 2013


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    University of Southampton ASTRA project which uses .NET Gagdgeteer presented at the Royal Academy of Engineering.




    Royal Exposure for .NET Gadgeteer

    Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer was presented as part of the University of Southampton ASTRA project at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

    Prince Philip and other distinguished guests attended this celebration of engineering on the occasion of the naming of “Prince Philip house." András Sóbester, University of Southampton, Chris Paulson, PhD student at the University of Southampton, and Steven Johnston University of Southampton, had the opportunity to talk about the project with Prince Philip.

    The ASTRA project aims to improve atmospheric sensor capabilities, and the prototype hardware is developed by using .NET Gadgeteer. Read the Ingenia article or see the Microsoft .NET Showcase and previous blogs about Windows Phone and Astra


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research Connections issued a Request for Proposals for the 2013 Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) Awards.


    Call for 2013 SEIF Award Applications

    Microsoft Research Connections issued a Request for Proposals for the 2013 Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) Awards. The foundation supports top researchers who are conducting academic research that primarily involves Microsoft technologies. Each award is for US$25,000 and includes access to relevant collaborations and workshops.

    This year, the requested proposal topics include software engineering for gaming and assistive technologies for digital inclusion. The 2013 SEIF Awards will include a new grant that is designated for a project from Brazil. The application deadline is January 25 and results will be announced on March 28. Learn more or read our blog.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Global Game Jam 2013 Competition



    Microsoft is supporting the WW competition and in the UK were having a dedicated competition at each event and online.

    So even if who cannot physically attend the event can enter the online competition see  http://www.ubelly.com/global-game-jam/


    The UK Venues 




    University Campus Suffolk

    Rob Kurta







    SAE Institute London

    Jason Colman







    Staffs Uni Games Academy

    Nia Wearn



    Stafford, Staffordshire




    Hull Global Game Jam

    Simon Grey







    ExPlay Global Game Jam

    korash sanjideh







    Wiltshire College Trowbridge

    Frazer McLeod







    CST labs, University of Bedfordshire

    Stephen Wilson





    Northern Ireland


    Farset Labs

    Andrew Bolster


    Northern Ireland




    Scottish Game Jam

    Brian McDonald





    Glyndwr University Global Game Jam

    Ian Sturrock




  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Research collaborations to build scientific tools and data analysis services in the Windows Azure cloud



    I wanted to share some of the Microsoft Research collaborations to build scientific tools and data analysis services in the Windows Azure cloud.

    One specific story to highlight was how Windows Azure helps provide affordable supercomputing time to researchers and simplifies the management of large scale computations is a project where Windows Azure has drastically reduced processing times to find new associations between genomes and diseases discoveries that could presage potential breakthroughs in prevention and treatment.

    Cloud Computing Unlocks Drug Discovery

    Researchers from Molplex, a small drug-discovery company; Newcastle University; and Microsoft Research Connections are working together to use cloud computing to help scientists across the globe deliver new medicines faster and at lower cost. This collaborative partnership has helped Molplex develop Clouds Against Disease, an offering of high-quality drug discovery services based on a new molecular discovery platform that draws its power from Windows Azure. The Clouds Against Disease computational platform runs algorithms to calculate, rapidly, the numerical properties of molecules. As a result, Molplex has been able to produce drug discovery results on a much larger scale than has ever been seen before.

    Read our blog or read the case study.

    Learn more about Research Opportunities:

    · Read the indepth Blog on Researcher and the Cloud  

    · Watch the video

    · Read the case study

    Apply for Windows Azure Educator Grant


    The Windows Azure Research Engagement project aims to boost scholarly and scientific research by extending computing to the cloud. We provide a cloud computing platform and work with researchers on projects that push the frontiers of client and cloud computing. 


    Related Links
    Contact Us
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Interested in Functional Programming Try F#



    Try F# beta web based IDE, which makes it easy to learn the F# programming language, create programs by using F#, and share information all through a web browser.

    The new Try F# allows developers and students to experience F# 3.0’s unique information-rich programming features for Big and Broad Data analytics, and solve functional programming problems more efficiently.

    Learn more:

    · Try the Try F# beta

    · Learn about the Try F# beta in this video

    · Read our blog

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Teaching Azure at Sheffield Hallam University


    Guest blog by Dr John Kirby, Senior Lecturer and Knowledge Transfer Champion, Sheffield Hallam University

    At Sheffield Hallam University we understand that the "cloud" is fundamentally changing computing. And this change will require increasing numbers of people with the right kind of training and skills. This is why we introduced our MSc in "Web and Cloud Computing".


    This course focuses on giving students the technical and related skills needed to provide successful web and cloud computing solutions to real business problems. The course is aimed at both practising professionals and recent graduates who wish to study for a higher qualification, while gaining relevant experience in this rapidly advancing area.

    Students gain skills in developing and applying cloud-related technology and learn about the benefits and challenges of cloud computing. They investigate a range of topics including advanced data handling, cloud computing security and collective intelligence based on user-generated content. Students study the different types of cloud and the various cloud service models including • software-as-a-service • platform-as-a-service • infrastructure-as-a-service.


    Our Cloud Applications module focuses on platform as a service and half of the teaching on this module focuses on Windows Azure. Students are introduced to the Azure SDK for Visual Studio through a number of lab class exercises concentrating on the object models used in accessing Table and Blob storage for creating, reading, updating and deleting data. Development is carried out using the Compute and Storage emulators on the local machine.

    I feel that it is important that students gain real practical experience of deploying their applications in the Windows Azure cloud. Deployment to Azure is not only the thing that makes these lab exercises "cloud" applications but it also gives students the experience and confidence to go on to use Azure in real commercial settings. This is why the very first lab exercise involves students deploying their applications to the Windows Azure platform. Students are shown how to use the Windows Azure Platform to deploy their application, create a storage account, set up firewall rules and run their application "in the cloud".

    The main assessed work for Cloud Applications module focuses on a programming project and report. Last year all of the students felt sufficiently confident to use Windows Azure to complete their projects. Students were required to demonstrate their applications running on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

    Our Handling Data in the Cloud module reviews a number of approaches to storing data in the cloud including the Windows Azure SQL Database (formerly SQL Azure). Students are introduced to the Management Portal for SQL Azure which they use in lab classes to create a small database.

    They then carry out another lab exercise in which they create a Federation and investigate its operation and features.

    John thanks for this overall great use of Cloud services within academic curriculum.

    If your interested in using Windows Azure cloud services within education please register for a FREE Azure pass from http://www.windowsazure.com/education

    What included in the FREE pass

    Microsoft provides grants for educators wanting to use Windows Azure in their curricula. These grants are facilitated through Windows Azure academic passes, which provide the following resources:

    Windows Azure
    • 2 small compute instances for Cloud Services or Virtual Machines
    • 10 Shared Web Sites
    • 10 Shared Mobile Services
    • 35GB of storage
    • 50,000,000 storage transactions
    • 250,000 Service Bus messages
    • 750 Service Bus Relay Hours
    SQL Database
    • Two 1GB Web Edition database
    Data Transfers

    (Per Region)

    • 8 GB in
    • 8 GB out

    Apply for a grant

    Grant applications are designated for faculty who are teaching Windows Azure in their curricula as well as faculty preparing to integrate Windows Azure into their curricula. Educator Grant awards are subject to demand and availability.  Educators will receive a special 12-month pass for their exclusive use, and may request 5-month non-renewable passes for distribution to their students.  Each pass is valid from the date of redemption. Educators may apply for passes for each of the courses they are teaching, and may only distribute these passes to students registered as part of their educational institution.

    To apply for an Educator Grant fill out this simple application form and provide us with:

    • Your name
    • Your email contact
    • Institution/University name
    • Course name
    • Course description
    • Number of students in your course
    • Number of Windows Azure platform academic passes needed
    • Date when passes will be used
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Perfect competition for Design Students and courses - App to the Future is an app design competition open to the international design community


    Now You Can Change the Future  Challenge ends February 3, 2013

    Design an app for Windows Phone that showcases how to create, connect and maximise the use of the Windows Phone Platfrom.

    Mobile apps are used by millions of people worldwide on a daily basis and are now a way many of us take control of your day-to-day life. Today they help you wake up, dress, commute, stay on top of news and reach the important people in your life throughout the day, and at their best they help you do things the way YOU want to do them. But what more could your apps do for you tomorrow?

    Well this is where the app to the future challenge fits in!

    App to the Future is an app design competition open to the international design community, challenging entrants to design and mockup conceptual apps for the Windows Phone platform to help with their day-to-day challenges, better connect with their family or friends, or showcase an innovative, new app idea. The goals of Core77 and Microsoft are to showcase and triumph innovative designs through the Core77 Design Network of websites and the Microsoft Windows Phone Store and related websites such as Channel 9.

    Top winning entrants will be further encouraged to develop and sell their app in the Windows Phone Store utilizing prizes, resources and assistance provided by Core77 and Microsoft.

    So REGISTER NOW to design your own App to the Future! Full details: http://apptothefuture.core77.com/



    A Microsoft Surface Tablet



    A Windows Phone 8 device 

    And a one year subscription to the Windows Phone DEV CENTER which as a student you already get via DreamSpark

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    December Construct2 Windows 8 HTML5 games competition results


    In December we announced a number of competitions in partnership with various middleware vendors, the aim of the competition was to simply design, develop and publish a Windows 8 game using one of the various middleware technologies.

    I am happy to confirm the winners! of the Scirra Construct2 competition:

    10th place: Fireflies

    Fireflies screenshot

    Fireflies by Richard Kesuma. Well done, you win an XBox 360 games bundle and the coveted Flying Monkey!

    9th place: Saloon Madness

    Saloon Madness screenshot

    Saloon Madness by Aditya Anwar T. Well done, you win an XBox 360 games bundle!

    8th place: Maru Toy Catch

    Maru Toy Catch screenshot

    Maru Toy Catch by Vito Budiman Jr. Well done, you win an XBox 360 games bundle!

    7th place: Telebeanies

    Telebeanies screenshot

    Telebeanies by Febndy Kwik. Well done, you win an XBox 360 games bundle!

    6th place: R.U.Nuts

    R.U.Nuts screenshot

    R.U.Nuts by Olivier Saighi. Well done, you win an XBox 360 games bundle!

    5th place: Nutty Run

    Nutty Run screenshot

    Nutty Run by Ben Ward & Stan Ruzmetov. Well done, you win a Construct 2 Personal license and XBox 360 games bundle!

    4th place: Blast 'em All

    Blast 'em All screenshot

    Blast 'em All by Anthony Wijaya. Well done, you win a Construct 2 Personal license and XBox 360 games bundle!

    3rd place: Vartun's Pillar

    Vartun's Pillar screenshot

    Vartun's Pillar by Braycen Jackwitz. A nicely designed retro style adventure game. Congratulations, you win a Construct 2 Personal license and XBox 360 games bundle!

    2nd place: Neon Galaxy

    Neon Galaxy screenshot

    Neon Galaxy by Joe Chang. An engaging and fast-paced neo-retro action game with lots of bright visuals, enemies, powerups, explosions and lighting effects. Congratulations, you win a Nokia Lumia 920 and a Construct 2 Business license!

    1st place: Mortar Melon

    Mortar Melon screenshot

    Mortar Melon by Daniel Da Rocha & Henry Hoffman. This is a very well designed physics-based puzzler with beautiful artwork and atmospherics, a carefully tuned learning curve, and enough fruit to run a smoothie shop. Congratulations, you win a Windows 8 tablet, a Nokia Lumia 920 and a Construct 2 Business license!

    Well done!

    Congratulations to all our winners! We will be in touch shortly to arrange delivery of your prizes. And thank you to everyone who entered - we were delighted to receive an amazing number of entries.

    We hope you all enjoyed making your games and getting published to the Windows 8 Store and look forwards to seeing what you all make in future!

    New Competition

    If your entering this years Global Game Jam in the UK then enter your Windows 8 game into the following competition to win some awesome prizes http://www.ubelly.com/global-game-jam/ you can build your Windows 8 game using any middleware, toolkits or languages and the more games you enter the greater the chance of winning.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Using DirectXMath with Direct3D



    The DirectXMath API provides SIMD-friendly C++ types and functions for common linear algebra and graphics math operations common to DirectX applications. The library provides optimized versions for Windows 32-bit (x86), Windows 64-bit (x64), and Windows RT through SSE2 and ARM-NEON intrinsic support in the Visual Studio compiler.

    The Windows SDK for Windows 8 ships with the DirectXMath library which is the next major revision of the C++ SIMD graphics math library known as “XNAMath” in the DirectX SDK and Xbox 360 XDK.

    The DirectXMath Programming Guide on MSDN provides full detail on What’s New in the library, and a Code Migration guide for current users of XNAMath. For developers using DirectXMath for the first time, the Getting Started page has been expanded to provide more basic usage information.

    DirectXMath provides a math solution optimized for Windows for more indepth details please see DirectXMath Programming Guide and reference material for the DirectXMath Library DirectXMath Programming Reference

    The DirectXMath library is designed for C++ developers working on games and DirectX graphics in Windows Store apps and traditional desktop apps for Windows 8 and later. For more details see the DirectXMath Programming Guide section on “Using DirectXMath with Direct3D” <http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ff729728(v=vs.85).aspx>

    Here are some DirectXMath links you might want to take a look at as well




  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Games@Derby Expo – University of Derby


    Guest blog by Dr Tommy Thompson. University of Derby

    university-of-derby image

    I’m Dr Tommy Thompson, a lecturer at the University of Derby. Since completing my undergraduate degree in Computer Science back in 2004, I have worked as a commercial software developer for a variety of companies while pursuing a career in research; completing an MSc in Artificial Intelligence in 2006 from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D in AI applied to games from the University of Strathclyde in 2010.

    I’m the Programme Leader for the BSc in Computer Games Programming at the University of Derby and teach our introductory modules in C# and XNA as well as our final year module in AI for games .

    The University of Derby recently moved to a 20-credit system and we saw an opportunity to shake-up our curriculum to do something new. This resulted in our new Game Development module, where our students in the Computer Games Programming degree would be working alongside their peers in the BSc in Computer Game Modelling and Animation. The remit of the module was simple; construct a game-concept you could present to a publisher within 12 weeks. We constrained the games to revolve around concepts of ‘Zombies’ and ‘time’, which resulted in a range of games that were completely unique. It was our intent to put students through the creative processes of commercial game development but within a severely protracted timeframe.

    The tools and technology used was driven entirely by the students. We are one of the few UK institutions to have both Windows 7 and 8 running on our systems and we provide a range of tools such as Visual Studio and Unreal Development Kit to our programming students on these builds. Given our students intent to develop games that can subsequently be released to a larger audience, it makes sense to start working on Windows systems, which hold the largest market share in PC gaming.

    2 4 5 7

    The teaching of the module was a relatively smooth process; we left many of the technical challenges in the hands of the students, but guided them through key milestones of development such as concept art and documentation, creating their alpha build, testing for quality and refining the mechanics to ensure the fun factor shone through. My colleagues Minsi Chen and Jon Pledger were instrumental in bringing this about and their prior experience from working with large studios in the AAA industry proved vital.   

    Win8_logo SurfaceRt

    Our teaching team have been very vocal about transitioning to Windows 8 on our lab machines and subsequently integrating it into our teaching curriculum. We feel it’s crucial our students across all years are aware of the paradigm shift that is occurring in Microsoft technologies. Thankfully the school management have been very receptive and it has been a very smooth transition.

    The main focus of the Game Development module is to produce high-quality portfolio material. At this stage of their academic career it is crucial that they present some work that is a reflection of their technical ability. Having our students showcase this work as part of the Games@Derby expo aids them not only in presenting their work publically, but ensuring they place greater attention to detail and quality in their work. Meanwhile, our CGP students were working on more portfolio material with my colleague Wayne Rippin to develop Windows 8 apps in our Systems Programming module.

    team1 team2 team3 team4

    We’re hoping to show off this work at our next Games@Derby event running on 8th February.

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