by Garret Nunan
Students from the International School of Beijing’s (ISB’s) Codelympians Club are working with Microsoft to develop a mobile app. On Thursday, November 16, ISB students from the competitive programming club visited Microsoft’s offices in Zhongguancun (Beijing’s technology hub) and met with members of the Microsoft team who are responsible for the development of PowerPoint online and forms in Office 365, to discuss collaborating on mobile application for ISB.
The Codelympians initiated the project with Microsoft, through ISB parent Michael Chang, who is the software engineering director for Microsoft’s Office division in East Asia. Mr. Chang presented at ISB’s career day last year and the club reached out to him about the possibility of collaborating with Microsoft. He introduced the group to Poonam Gupta who is the program manager for MS One note Beijing and she recommended they complete the real-life scenario-based product-design of a mobile application, from concept to fruition, following the same process a Microsoft team would use to develop and launch a product.
Following an initial brainstorming session with Ms. Gupta, it was decided that the group would work on developing a mapping application for ISB, meeting a basic initial requirement to help parents find rooms on campus during parent teacher conferences. Future possible additional application scenarios could include helping new students find their classrooms and possibly integrate with the schedule in PowerSchool.
Over the coming weeks, the students will continue working on the finer points of their ideas. In March, they will return to Microsoft to get feedback on the design of their prototype, with a view to pitching the completed, working app to Microsoft’s venture capital team in mid-May.
As an ISB-centric app, a successful outcome for the pitch would mean a virtual rather than actual acceptance for product launch from Microsoft. However, the benefits for the students are numerous: learning to code and develop the app, participating in and gaining insight into real-world business processes, meeting like-minded professionals, and receiving guidance from eminently qualified mentors. And for the ISB community, the outcome will be a nifty application that could potentially be used here on campus to make navigating the halls a little easier for less familiar visitors.