Students invited guests at major technology conference

SUNY Oswego students Rick Buck and Dan Schlegel received the equivalent of a special invitation to the recent Microsoft Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference in Las Vegas.

Microsoft paid their registration fee—around $1,200 each—and another $340 each to support airfare and lodging. The opportunity was connected to a grant SUNY Oswego computer science faculty member Dr. Lin Qiu received for a Microsoft-supported project to develop software that helps teachers and students create shared real-time interactive diagrams on tablet PCs.

Buck and Schlegel are working with Qiu on using tablet PC technology to enhance the teaching and learning process.

The conference, April 29 to May 3, centered on two emerging technologies, Buck said: mobile—such as cellphones, PDAs, pocket PCs and music devices—and embedded, including robotics, ATMs and point-of-purchase technology.

“We went to enhance our skills and learn what’s new,” said Buck, who is in SUNY Oswego master’s in human-computer interaction program and works in the college’s Office of Public Affairs coordinating the college’s Web presence. “A lot has changed in the technology very quickly, especially in the mobile market where within a year things can completely change.”

The two students had the opportunity to interact with Microsoft developers working on the technology they are studying under the funded grant.

“We talked to a lot of people involved with tablet PC development and showed them what we’ve been doing,” said Schlegel, a senior computer science major. “I also had a chance to talk to people from Microsoft about a possible internship.”

The nearly 2,000 conference attendees were generally professionals working in the field. “We didn’t meet any other students,” Buck said. “We may have been the only ones.”

In the process, they learned more about different programming languages, Web-based software and coming technological advances.

“This is a great opportunity to expose them to the newest things on the market, including some things that haven’t even been released yet,” Qiu explained.

The professor said that having students interact with those developing cutting-edge hardware and software—and coming back to share this knowledge—gives Oswego’s program a leg up on staying much more current than textbooks could in an ever-changing field.

“And besides the technological things, they had fun too,” Qiu added.

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(Posted: Jun 13, 2007)