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April 24, 2015

Learning by doing: Microsoft Foundry interns develop apps for Lumia and other devices

With the help of the Microsoft Garage, college students in the Microsoft Foundry Internship Program come up with a good idea for an app then develop, test and publish the app—all in just 12 to 16 weeks.

How many students can say, when asked what they did over their summer vacation: “Oh, I worked side by side with tech-industry leaders and developed a Windows Phone app”?


It turns out that 65 or so college students have those bragging rights. Each year, they descend on the Microsoft campuses in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Hyderabad, India, to participate in the Microsoft Foundry Internship Program.

Their aim: Incubate, develop, and publish new mobile apps and embrace the growth hacking culture. The Foundry program works closely with the Microsoft Garage, a community that fosters grassroots innovation and a place to develop wild ideas into functional prototypes and launch early versions of these projects for customer feedback.

Last year, the apps and games the Foundry interns created include Lost Turtle, Nova Bacon (below), Collaborate, Floatz, Citizen Next, Student Planner (Windows only), Tetra Lockscreen and Work Item Studio. Students at the Vancouver Foundry also created Voice Commander, a free game for Xbox.

“We’re asking our interns to go through the whole development life cycle of an app,” said Stephane Morichere-Matte, senior program manager at Microsoft Foundry Vancouver.

If that sounds unique and exciting, it is.


These kids are no slouches when it comes to technology.

About 80 percent of them have backgrounds in computer science while the other 20 percent are skilled in design-user experience. The students come from universities such as MIT, the University of Michigan, Simon Fraser University, and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

The interns use the full three or four months of the program (depending on location) to make a high-quality, smooth, and appealing game or app. And developing one from an idea to a story-ready product requires a variety of skills.


Here’s a small sample of tasks they need to accomplish: Prototype and implement various app features quickly. Test the apps on different devices. Gather feedback from engineers and designers at the Microsoft Garage and apply it to their apps. Ship the apps to the Windows or Windows Phone Store, work with customers to resolve issues, and further polish the apps based on customer feedback.

In many ways, participating in the Foundry Program is akin to working for a start-up, said Lucian Lui, senior director of Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge.

“We want them to learn what it takes to get from concept to ship and experience the journey in a very accelerated way,” he said. “They understand how difficult it is to take an idea and make it usable and available to people.”

“We guide them along, but they need to own the solution,” Lucian added.

“This is real-world experience.”

To learn more about Microsoft’s internship programs, go here.

Have you tried out any of the apps or games the Foundry interns created? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below. We’ll pass along your feedback to Foundry program managers.