Microsoft Canada & OCAD – Igniting the next generation of software design & user experience

Did you know that Toronto has the third-largest design workforce in North America, behind only New York and Boston?

That’s good news for the GTA, especially given the current economy. Design is a growing, dynamic and increasingly important industry. As we heard at MIX09, the future of software and device innovation will depend on truly outstanding user experiences, and we need to do what we can to inspire people with the skills and passion needed to build personal connections between people and technology.

That’s why I’m excited by the announcement I made yesterday at MESH (Canada’s leading web gathering) with Sara Diamond, President of the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).

You can hear all the details from Sara and I in this video. (See below)

Microsoft Canada has donated a Microsoft Surface development unit, our developer tools and related services to students and faculty at the university’s Digital Media Research + Innovation Institute – the first phase of which is now under construction, and which will align with the school’s cross-disciplinary Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) program. Among the goals of this new is to initiative establish a research and innovation laboratory for interactive design, art and digital media.

Microsoft Surface will help OCAD students, faculty and researchers to apply interactive technology to their work in digital media, art and design.  In conjunction with our partner Infusion Development, we will be directly engaged with teaching students how to harness the power of these new technologies.  This is only the start - in the years ahead we’ll be bringing in our technology and design experts to OCAD to help further strengthen this relationship. Our focus will not just be on the Surface technologies - as we move into a world where the interaction with software will depend on new user experiences like touch, speech and other capabilities it is critical that we prepare the next generation of software designers and experience experts.

Sara Diamond from OCAD called our collaboration a “big step forward” for Ontario’s digital media ecosystem and I look forward to continued work together in the years ahead.

This collaboration marks another step in our ongoing effort to help bolster the health of the technology sector and Canada’s long-term economic competitiveness by encouraging the next generation of talent, whether in design, software development or technology in general.

To get more of a taste of what we’re doing in the design space, be sure to check out our UX Connection blog, and this great example of Surface in action – the Bookstore application from our local partners Infusion Development.