Friday, June 7, 2013

The U-Crew Experience!

A U-Crew ambassador (in orange) giving demos
 It was the 8th of May, a typical Wednesday. Students were rushing across the NYP atrium bridge. The heat was working its way into everyone’s nerves. It was a usual day for NYP students: the usual crowd, the usual lunch frenzy…when all of a sudden, a loud and persuasive voice shot through the atrium, “Gooood afternoon everybody, please come on down to the New Microsoft, Windows Office 2013 Experience!” Practically everyone turned their heads to the colorful booths set-up by students, led by Year 3 Telematics and Media Technology student, Muhammad Hisyam Bin Mustafa.

Nearly there!!!
Several small booths were scattered over the atrium floor, attended to by colorfully dressed U-crew ambassadors. The most interesting being the “Dance Central 3” Kinect set-up. Students lined up to dance in front of their fellow classmates! It somehow made me feel happy watching them dance away as their friends giggled, teased them, and took pictures. Countless students lined up to take part because of the Dance Central 3 competition. The person with the highest score on the game at the end of the day could win an Xbox 360 and several other freebies. I guess the deal was too good to pass off as this booth was busy throughout the day.

Another popular booth was the Kinect camera. Users could stand in front of it and take a photo of themselves, or with their friends. The photo would then be displayed on a shiny monalith screen. Maybe it was the touch screen that attacted people but I personally was not “wowed”. But the  female students seemed to love it. For the duration of my visit, female students often squeal at the sight of the booth. They would call out to their friends and frantically persuade them to take a photo! Girls really do like taking photos….
Ooooo monolith screen. Shiny!
Besides the two booths mentioned above, several other activities were happening at  the atrium, namely a ArovTech Flying Demo, muffins cum cupcakes sale and a HP roadshow.  The employees from Arovtech performed several flying demos using remote controlled flying devices. The buzzing of the Arov Multi Rotar V1 caught the attention of students walking home. Many of them, including me, were fixated on the tiny, sleak drone flying smoothly in the air. It’s such a sight to see how far technology has come, an ordinary person can now own a drone! Wow!
Directors of ArovTech with their drone
I checked out the colourful booths around the atrium, each manned by a U-Crew ambassador. Armed with a Windows 8 demo provided by Microsoft Singapore, each of them were eager to explain the features of Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2012. They took me though the “Metro” interface of the new Windows 8 and demonstrated the many tiles available on their start menu. Some ambassadors used jokes to entertain the participants while some showcased video clips or casual games. At the end of their demos, they handed out a survey for each particpant to complete.

What is “U-Crew”?
U-Crew is a Microsoft ambassador programme that started in the United States many years back. Traditionally, university students are enrolled into the programme but recently, polytechnic students were given the opportunity to take part on the same terms as their university counterparts.

Chew Rong Kang, a U-Crew ambassador
I interviewed Chew Rong Kang, a U-Crew ambassador and Information Technology student who is currently in his second year. He has been part of U-Crew for nearly a year and  has been having a great time. He wanted to meet people with similar interests so when the opportunity presented itself, he signed up. He has since met other IT enthusiasts from around the world. He views his U-Crew duties as a way to promote technology and learn more about the latest technologies. This way, he would be able to accomplish his work more quickly and efficiently.

He  knows that we will all have to upgrade and adapt to new technologies in the future, thus its better for him to learn as much as he can now. For their hardwork, ambassadors like Rong Kang receive incentives. Windows 8 Tablets sponsored by Asus and HP together with Microsoft Singapore are given out to encourage them to continue sharing and showcasing these new technologies. Although Rong Kang feels that the incentives are indeed attractive, they are not the main reason why he signed up.  Teaching is a huge joy for him, and he believes the experience helps him to become a better speaker and organiser.

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By Sean Yap, Year 2, Diploma in Information Security

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