Texas State hosted the second annual Microsoft Pitch-Off event on Nov. 15 in Alkek, providing students the opportunity to propose solutions and resolve issues in their local communities.
The Microsoft Data Center Community Development team and Net Impact, a nonprofit organization aiming to use business skills to support social and environmental causes, will co-sponsor the event. The teams will allow Microsoft judges to work alongside local community leaders to evaluate the presentations and proposals offered by students.
Undergraduate and graduate students—from all majors and backgrounds—and faculty can participate and form teams of two-to-five people. Individuals will submit proposals to resolve an issue in their community by Nov. 5.
A panel of Microsoft judges and community leaders will decide the top 10 teams and ask individuals to pitch their ideas in full Nov. 15 at Texas State in Alkek. The judges will award the winning team $1,000 and another $5,000 to bring their idea to fruition.
The event will provide students the chance to face an issue in their community head-on while developing public speaking and critical project development skills. Similar pitch-off events will be held at Arizona State University, University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Iowa.
Janet Hale, Net Impact adviser, said the event is a place students can develop important real-world skills.
“Students can gain real-world experience and have a chance to be mentored by Microsoft,” Hale said. “It serves as a a chance to develop project skills in planning, executing, innovating, presenting to a large group of attendees and learning at a high level.”
The 2018 pitch-off winner, Cedrik Chavez, said participating in the pitch-off event can be highly beneficial to both the community and students. Chavez team’s winning project “F.E.E.D,” (Food, Efficiency, Effectively and Distribution) created an app to help the Hays County Food Bank with distribution and data entry issues.
“This pitch event is for students to share ideas on how to bring sustainable, localized solutions to life that address a local challenge,” Chavez said. “The goal is to drive student-driven projects with a positive impact on the communities Microsoft operates in by creating shared values for Microsoft and community and student groups.”
The types of ideas presented to the panel of judges span a wide variety of topics and subjects. Microsoft employees are specifically seeking pitches dealing with environmental sustainability, youth development, inclusive communities and workforce development and education. Microsoft offers three prompts for student proposals:
1. How can Microsoft extend its commitment to environmental sustainability?
2. How can Microsoft leverage its technical knowledge and assets to address the digital divide?
3. How can the company work to build value for both the community and Microsoft?
Conner Prince, digital media innovation sophomore, said he hopes to participate in an effort to create a successful project benefiting the community.
“Showing employers you can be successful at an event like this is potentially very rewarding, especially with a name like Microsoft attached to it,” Prince said. “I am hoping to make something that can apply what I have learned in the classroom and put it to action in the real world around us.”
The top 10 teams will hold presentations at 2:30-5:30 p.m., Nov. 15, in the Alkek Teaching Theater. To learn more about the pitch-off view Net Impact’s website.
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