Four undergraduate students teamed up to participate in the 2021 Microsoft Student Hackathon, they eventually emerged winners and have received and accepted offers to join Microsoft as full-time software engineers. The students Gloria Keya, David Lutta, Christine Wambui, and Audrey Njenga will start their professional careers at Microsoft when they graduate from school.
They are all final year students pursuing computer science at universities located in Kenya and Rwanda. Firstly, Gloria and Christine are students at the University of Nairobi(UoN) in Kenya. Whilst David is a student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology(JKUAT). Finally, Audrey is a student at the African Leadership University(ALU) based in Rwanda.
The students who had just completed their summer internship with Microsoft learned about the hackathon and decided to extend their Microsoft experience. By forming a team to participate in the student hackathon. Which was concurrently taking place with the Microsoft Global Hackathon for Microsoft employees. The hackathon event was to hack solutions for Sustainability, Society, Education, and Ability using Microsoft technologies. In all, there were students from 22 other countries participating in the virtual Microsoft student hackathon. Over the course of just a week, they conceived, built, and tested their idea.
“We wanted to create an opportunity after their Microsoft internship for the students to stay connected to Microsoft and use the skills and knowledge they acquired in a new project and challenge that reflected their own passion,” says Steve Scallen, Senior Director of University Engagement at the Microsoft Garage. “They were all summer interns at Microsoft, and they all have offers to come back, which they’ve accepted. We are very excited they have chosen to start their professional careers at Microsoft.”
The students won the grand prize-winning project with their idea Forest Guard. Which falls under the hack for earth challenge and sustainability category. Forest Guard is a real-time on-site deforestation sensor and alert system that detects and reports dangerous or illegal activity in protected forests. It will be able to detect illegal logging and forest fire, using an IoT tool and Azure cognitive services.
Microsoft says they will have the opportunity to continue hacking the Forest Guard at The Garage when they begin work as full-time software engineers at Microsoft Nairobi in 2022. Microsoft is bringing The Garage program to Africa and will be opening new locations on the Microsoft Lagos and Nairobi campuses. The Garage is a Microsoft resource for employees to connect, experiment and be creative outside of their day job.
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