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Microsoft’s Gates Pledges Software to Campus Chapters of Black Engineering Society

Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp., last month announced that Microsoft will donate developer software to all National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) educational chapters in the United States. Gates made the announcement during a regional NSBE fall conference that was held in Redmond.

The software grant is providing 270 NSBE educational chapters with a three-year membership subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance. With memberships, faculty and student NSBE chapter members will have access to more than 100 Microsoft software products. The widely used software includes design and development tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio; client and server operating system platforms such as Microsoft Windows Server and Windows Vista; and platform servers such as Microsoft SQL Server.

“At Microsoft, we recognize that a work force made up of smart people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives is what drives innovation. That is why Microsoft is deeply committed to working with the NSBE to foster diversity in the IT field by supporting programs that create educational opportunities and encourage African-American students to explore careers in science and technology,” Gates said.

During his keynote talk to the NSBE conference, Gates spoke encouragingly about the importance of diversity in the technology field and about the opportunities for African-American students pursuing U.S. engineering and IT careers. He stressed that the software grants are part of Microsoft’s overall efforts to provide minorities with the tools to help them become future IT leaders.

“We are thrilled that Microsoft will help our students reach their goals by providing them with the latest developer software. Microsoft and the National Society of Black Engineers have many common goals, including a passion to attract more African-American students to enter science, technology, engineering and math fields,” says Carl Mack, NSBE executive director.

In the past, NSBE has recognized Microsoft for the firm’s diversity efforts. The national organization recently named Microsoft as NSBE’s Most Preferred Employer. NSBE has cited Microsoft for the company’s job security, career advancement offerings, challenging work and availability of internships.

“We are proud that NSBE has recognized us for our efforts. Microsoft has worked hard to be a diversity leader in our industry,” says Claudette Whiting, the general manager of diversity and inclusion at Microsoft.

Other organizations that Microsoft has targeted in its diversity efforts include the National Urban League, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the National Center for Women and Information Technology. D

–Ronald Roach

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