I had a great opportunity today. I was invited to take two of my students to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston. A number of local teachers and their students were invited to join a Future Potential in IT discussion, where representatives from area companies and colleges spoke of skills, jobs, and the future of work. This was followed by a Q&A session, where the students could ask the panel about their lives, experiences, and recommendations for study. All of this is part of an effort to encourage more students to explore technology futures.
Afterwards, we were allowed to walk the exposition floor and chat with the literally hundreds of companies that were part of the Conference. This was a combination of a "blast from the past" for me, and an "oh, wow" experience for my students. A decade ago I was a frequent visitor to such trade shows (Plug & Play Fest ’94 & ’95, WinHEC ’96), so this was quasi-familiar for me. My kids, however, had never seen anything like this, so it was a thrill to lead them around. They remarked that it reminded them of some of the larger FIRST Robotics competitions (which, I told them, is because FIRST competitions are modeled after trade shows).
It was also fun meeting an old co-worker from my pre-teaching days (NEC), and humbling when he told my students what he thought of my work way back when. (Thanks Mike, I really appreciate it!)
Overall, I know my students loved the opportunity; thanks Microsoft for making it possible.