I am beyond honored to share my Student Spotlight featured on Cornell’s Information Science website. Take a look and see just why selecting Cornell and the Information Science Program are the two best decisions of my life:
As the excitement of the Microsoft Firenze|BXT competition comes to gradual close, I am surprised to see the competition lives on in myriad ways including the competition event video (above featuring yours truly starting around the 1:27 minute mark), a fantastic write up in the Cornell Business Journal regarding my team’s participation in the event, and even news of Bing’s development team creating an enthralling new user experience that incorporates social media in ways not unlike my team’s concept!
Be sure to check out my write-up on the competition here: My Experiences at Microsoft Firenze|BXT 2012
If there is one experience that is undoubtedly the most rewarding and distinctive of being a university student, it is the pure excitement that comes from instantly being plugged into a network of brilliant minds and infinite opportunities. From case studies to hackathons, there seems no end to the amazing team-based competitions on campuses across the nation.
I had the great pleasure during my Spring semester of freshman year at Cornell University to experience a competition that blends design, business, and technology to allow for equal footing among a wide range of talents and majors: Microsoft Firenze|BXT.
Microsoft’s unique team competition has been nothing but a whirlwind of fun, nerves, sleepless nights, and incredible new friends.
From the Bottom…
As a freshman, I was concerned I would only be getting in the way of those who have had more experience in their fields. However, as one of the few design oriented majors there, I grew an appreciation for what I could offer: animation, conceptual rendering skills, and visual communication. However, at the time, I did not realize that I would be contributing an important skill that I had never explored before: User Interface design.
Tasked with reimagining Microsoft’s Bing search engine as being a search engine that heavily incorporated social media, my team and I set out to create an idea that would help us stand out from the six other talented Cornell teams. As the sleepless hours piled up, so did the ideas and drawings. We soon came upon a concept and design that my team and I unanimously loved: A clean redesign of Bing that placed equal emphasis on standard search results and reviews/tips/photos/etc. from “experts.” These so-called experts fell into two categories: those in your social network (such as friends who had posted material related to your search including reviews or photos) and those who are established experts in the related field (such as a well-known travel book author or a highly-regarded tech reviewer).
By compiling all the results into a cohesive search results page, we created a concept of a search engine that did not just serve users but connected them within their circles to provide better and more human results.
Delivering the Goods…
To aid our presentation to a panel of Microsoft employees ranging from Creative Directors to actual developers on Bing’s team, I was tasked with creating a conceptual user interface and a product demonstration video. With the help of Adobe Photoshop, Audition, Illustrator, and After Effects, I set out to create within just a day’s time the full video and necessary conceptual UI screens.
I am proud of the results – especially with 18 consecutive hours logged on the animation alone – and am extremely proud that my team and I were able to win a spot in the final round of the competition at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus.
Let’s Fly Away…
The entire final round of the competition will always seem completely surreal. Microsoft generously flew out the winning teams from the competing schools to Seattle, WA, for a weekend-long final competition. Once there, the finalist teams were created by mixing up the individual students and giving a new competition case: creating a new design for the Microsoft retail stores.
Alongside the best and brightest from schools such as Carnegie Mellon University and Ohio State University, the weekend passed quickly with meet and greets, constructive individual reviews/critiques from Microsoft HR and executive employees, field research at local Microsoft Stores, and a lot of caffeine-aided hard work throughout the night. The following day, each team presented their findings and proposals to a board of select Microsoft employees.
The result was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Finalists were rewarded not only with the opportunity to participate in such a memorable competition, but also with an incredible number of awards including Microsoft Firenze|BXT jackets, sleek glass trophies, Xbox 360 consoles, and, for the winning team, Nokia phones and tablets.
To the Top…
Humbled and flattered by the entire experience, I cannot believe that weeks of hard work, nights of little to no sleep, and countless hours logged discussing concepts and ideas with my teams are finally over. I am left with a newfound appreciation of the field of User Interface Design, the important roles of Project and Product Managers – a few of which I had the honor of meeting while on Microsoft’s gorgeous Redmond campus, and the push Microsoft has started to make in recent years to place greater emphasis on design.
A major thanks to everyone at Microsoft who donated their time and resources to host the Firenze|BXT competition and to all the great new friends I made while competing this year.
Here’s to hoping the competition is offered next year!
Note: All Conceptual UI Design and Photos are property of Colin Budd. Duplication and use only allowed with permission.
Update: Be sure to check out my follow-up on the competition here: In the News: Microsoft Firenze|BXT 2012
Few things ease the “sting” of paying tuition like attending a course and learning from a professor that truly captivates your imagination. While I’m sure I’ll have the pleasure of finding more courses and more professors who share this distinguished trait, few will compare to Graeme Bailey and his course, Introduction to Computing in the Arts.
In this wide-reaching course, Professor Bailey teaches his students from all fields of Cornell about computer-generated art forms. Art, poetry, and music are all targeted as students explore the basics in Markov processes, score writing, and coding in order to aid computer learning.
As a student of Fine Arts with an interest in computer science, I could not help but become immersed in the world of generative arts. Although far from ear-candy, one of the first projects I completed was a short, thirty-second musical tune created at random by feeding in harmonic rules to a small computer program I wrote, which you can hear below:
Okay, so it sounds like a toddler pounding on a piano, but it was a start and one that took me by surprise.
The class is one that I would recommend in a heartbeat to anyone looking to challenge themselves and their perceptions about the abilities of computers in the realm of art.
With the very capable and always captivating Graeme Bailey at the reins, few courses are better able to lead to a profound interest in the blending of arts with technology than his Computing in the Arts introductory course.
A new article on AOL’s Patch site for the Pine-Richland area features Colin Budd for his works and his successes in the 2010-2011 Scholastics Arts and Writing competition.
Colin, who earned one of only five “American Vision Best of Show” awards in the county as well as a “Gold Key Portfolio” award for his art portfolio and a “Silver Key Portfolio” award for his photography portfolio.
In addition, Colin Budd earned two “Gold Key” awards, three “Silver Key” awards and six “Honorable Mention” awards for individual art and photographic works.
Colin, along with his friends from Pine-Richland High School’s well-regarded AP Art program proudly accepted their awards on February 12, 2011.
For more information on his successes and the works submitted, see the fantastic write-up in AOL’s Pine-Richland Patch article here: