REDMOND, Wash. Microsoft Corp. today announced new features and enhancements to theSpoke.net, an online club featuring blogging for students and young technology enthusiasts. Among the new features is theSpoke.net’s Premium Membership Program, which will provide students with easier access to software in their quest to better utilize technology and realize their full potential. In addition, Microsoft announced a new scholarship program, You Can Make a Difference, in which high-school students in the United States and Canada are invited to develop technology projects to benefit charitable organizations.
“theSpoke.net was created to provide a place for students and other young people interested in technology to inspire, empower and learn from one another,” said Morris Sim, senior director of the academic developer group at Microsoft. “Our goal is to support the innovations of young people, and it is our responsibility as an industry leader to provide the tools, resources and opportunities to empower such innovation.”
theSpoke.net’s Premium Membership Program provides students with direct access to Microsoft’s flagship development tool, Visual Studio® .NET 2003 Academic, for a $25 student lifetime membership fee, which is valid as long as the student is attending school. Premium members can download the software or request CDs via mail. Premium members also will receive access to partner benefits and discounts on partner software. Currently, industry partners such as Addison-Wesley, Codagen Technologies Corp., Dell Inc., Dundas Software Ltd., Infusion Development Corp., Micro Focus International Ltd., National Instruments Corp., /n software inc., O’Reilly Media Inc., Salford Software Ltd., Sams Publishing, Software FX Inc., and telerik are participating in the Premium Membership Program. Microsoft plans to give premium members access to future versions of Microsoft® development tools as they become available on a pay-as-you-go basis.
In the coming months, theSpoke.net plans to add new partners to its Premium Membership Program and introduce new benefits such as a point-based recognition program. Through the planned recognition program, premium members will be able to earn points for their participation in technology activities and use of software available via theSpoke.net. By earning points, premium members can achieve higher tiers in the program. Other services include a career development service that will help students find jobs by enabling them to post their résumés and search job openings posted on theSpoke.net.
Empowering High School Students to Make a Difference
Microsoft also is making a call for entries to the You Can Make a Difference scholarship program, which challenges high-school students to use technology creatively to positively impact society. The You Can Make a Difference program will award a total of $50,000 in grants to 10 students, five male and five female, who create the best proposal for a software project designed to benefit a charitable organization. Each grant of $5,000 will include a $2,500 scholarship award, $1,500 to implement the proposed project, and a $1,000 technology grant to each of the selected students’ schools.
“This scholarship program furthers our own efforts to help young women and girls interested in pursuing careers in the fields of science, engineering and technology,” said Nancy Chen, regional administrator at the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, which has developed a project called Girls E-Mentoring in Science, Engineering and Technology (GEM-SET) to connect girls, ages 13 to 18, with women mentors in the science, engineering and technology fields. “I’m extremely pleased that the You Can Make a Difference program will empower students to apply their talents and give back to their communities.”
Entry proposals can be submitted via theSpoke.net at http://www.thespoke.net/ycmd/ and are due by April 30. Judging will take place May 1–15, and winners will be announced in mid- to late May. Selected students will have two months from the date of the announcement to develop and deploy their project, with guidance from volunteer Microsoft developers. Detailed application information is available at http://www.thespoke.net/ycmd/, including a sample proposal and recommended development tools. Questions about the program should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
source: media release from Microsoft