MMH student takes home grand prize at Microsoft competition

Armed with an innovative spirit and strong teamwork skills, Thao Ly Bui Tran, MMH ’12 flew to Redmond, Washington in early March to compete in the final round of the 2012 Firenze|BXT Student Innovation Competition. And she walked away with the grand prize.

The Innovation Competition is hosted annually by the Microsoft Corporation and exposes students to real-world innovation scenarios that they might not encounter in their academic programs. To achieve this goal, student teams must be interdisciplinary and include one business student, one engineering student, one arts/design student, and one student from another academic program.

The first round of the competition was held at teams’ home universities. More than 10 Cornell teams entered the competition and worked on a new concept and business plan for Bing search engine. A victory in round one earned Bui Tran’s team a trip to the finals. Once there, teams were re-formed so that students from Cornell and the other two competing universities—Carnegie Mellon University and Ohio State—had to work together to design a new experience and business strategy for Microsoft Stores. Bui Tran’s team won the first-place prize.

Every member of the winning team took home three top-of-the-line Microsoft products. If their idea is eventually used in an actual product, Microsoft will then make a monetary donation to the winners’ home universities.

When asked what lessons she learned throughout the competition, Bui Tran said: “Working with people from different fields is an inspiring and exciting experience, which will lead you to creating best products. Yet, the challenges are being mind-opened, listening to others, receiving others’ expertise, and knowing how to transfer your knowledge.”