Meet the Maker: Microsoft


During your visit to Maker Faire Detroit this weekend, make sure to stop by and meet one of our exhibitors, Microsoft. We had a chance to chat with Drew Costakis about what you can expect from them in just a few days.

Tell us a little bit about Microsoft and your on-site activation at Maker Faire Detroit this year.
Microsoft is best known as a software company but many of the folks that work for Microsoft here in Michigan (about 200 of us) are very hands on with building stuff in our spare time (electronics, metal and wood working, etc.). We love the maker culture and we wanted to have fun, challenge ourselves and maybe inspire a few young folks to tinker and build with technology vs. just playing games with their gadgets.

What was the inspiration for your activation at the faire?
We wanted to build something that was LARGE and WET and involved multiple disciplines (structures, plumbing, CNC, CAD, graphics, soldering, programming, design, etc.) to build. We also wanted to combine controlling the physical world with the world of the cloud (Azure and Twitter services).

How do you think Microsoft embodies the making spirit?
We love how software allows an enterprising individual (or maker) to iterate, experiment and build cool stuff at a very low cost. Microsoft’s first product was a programming language (BASIC) and we continue to pride ourselves in providing tools for building amazing contraptions. You’ll see how our project queries Twitter’s streaming service, leverages our cloud computing platform (Azure) and interacts with physical controls through the .Net Micro Framework. Microsoft makes available a number of tools for free and some in open source, examples include the free Visual Studio Express (targeted at students so they can learn to program), the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and the open source .Net Micro Framework which we leverage on our embedded boards in this project.

What are you most looking forward to at Maker Faire Detroit this year?
Given how hot it’s been in July, we hope that our modern interpretation of a dunk tank will be a big draw!

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