Microsoft HQ Trip in Dublin

On Tuesday 5th June the Year 10s had the great fortune to visit the new Microsoft HQ in Dublin.  This 34,000 sq m building with over 2000 employees from all round the globe is as futuristic as it is impressive.  With a digital lake and digital waterfall made up of 125, 000 LEDs, Microsoft branded coffee, five different restaurants, a gym and yoga studios there was a real sense of a working community where well-being is at the core of the company’s success.

As the students walked into the building we were met with a warm welcome by our hosts only reiterated by the “Welcome Bangor Grammar” displayed on the massive TV screen in the main foyer.

The students had a brief tour of the building whereby they were able to get a feel of how Microsoft try to inspire their employees to promote creativity through spacious working areas, interactive screens and “chill out” zones.

After observing the dynamics of the working environment, the students were treated to a banquet fit for…well…14 year olds. Mini burgers, chips and fried chicken were on the menu. The impressive spread of food was met with joy from our boys and only further cemented the impressive nature of the company to make students feel welcomed.

After a brief chat from our host, Nicole, the students were put into small groups and were give a crash course in the use of Micro bits.  This small and affordable computer is used to inspire, enthuse and motivate students who want to learn more about coding.  At the moment, ICT, and in particular software development is one of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland.  As a department, our aim is to continue to promote Computer Science and let students develop programming skills at the earliest possible stage. The hope is that the pupils will become lot more confident in this vocation and be able to remove the challenging barriers that they face. In fact, the “DreamSpace Experience” that the students have had has only inspired our department to use Micro bit technology in an extracurricular club specifically for Year 8s and Year 9s next year.

After the Micro bits session, the boys were given a chance to experience Photo 3D Mixed reality. The students used this software to create a story using a title of their choice and collaboratively to complete the task of using live photos and superimposing this with 3D objects.  As one can imagine, the creativity was broad as it was humorous but all groups worked well together and there was a true sense of togetherness within the group setting.

Before the long journey back to Bangor, each student was given a “goody bag” that included crisps, muffins, water, a mini-torch and a pen drive.   For some this may have been the piece de resistance. For Microsoft and indeed ourselves as a school, we hope that this endeavour will only be the start of a beautiful friendship!