March 2, 2020

How is Microsoft Nurturing Serbian Talent?

Did you know that Microsoft Development Center Serbia (MDCS) is known as one of the most reliable Microsoft R&D centers? As most success stories do, it happened organically. Talented* Serbian engineers were called in to solve very difficult problems, but as the years went by, the projects became more complex, deeming growth of the center necessary. MDCS took on a systematic approach in nurturing future experts by providing support to selected curriculums and organizations. 

*According to Startup Genome Report 2020, Serbia is listed in Top 5 ecosystems by quality of engineering talent.

How does a talented workforce come to be? MDCS realizes it takes a village. In other words, it takes time and active participation in developing, providing guest lecturers and funding various programs** for elementary and middle school Serbian children. Those children demonstrated capability not only in  natural sciences, but also in many other areas. While experience with math and programming is desirable, the focus is placed on qualification round tests, motivation and background of each candidate.

**MDCS takes special interest in machine learning, computer vision, cloud infrastructure and distributed systems because its teams are included in developing products like cloud service Microsoft Azure, Windows Mixed Reality and functionalities for Microsoft Office based on machine learning, like Image to table.

Fifth Summer school of Machine Learning (PSI:ML) was held in Petnica in 2019. The curriculum evolves each year, and over 120 students have participated so far. Some of the students’ projects have evolved into award winning scientific work. Over 50% of teachers at PSI:ML are MDCS engineers. They constitute the majority of the Organisation Committee and are the only sponsor from the IT industry, showing a clear hands on approach in nurturing Serbian talent.

Tadej Kurepa, Community Manager at MDCS, estimates that over 20% of MDCS engineers attended one of numerous programs of Petnica, pinpointing this organization as a beacon that attracts future company employees.

Another school is supported by MDCS. For the third time, school of college level programming was held on Serbian mountain Divcibare. However, the participants were 60 elementary school students, mostly sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The school organizers are Society of mathematicians of Serbia and Petlja, with MDCS and FIS Global as patrons. During opening day, Aleksa Gordic from MDCS held a short lecture about machine learning trying to convey a seemingly too advanced topic to the students. This proved to be a good call as students started asking progressively complex questions that had no easy or short answers, indicating that some of future machine learning experts may have encountered their future profession right then and there.

Serbian experts are looking for cofounders worldwide in order to form joint ventures and increase scalability of their ideas worldwide. One of Tesla Nation goals is to help them get there. If you have any inquiries, please be welcome to contact vukasin@teslanation.org to connect you to a wellspring of engineering talent inspired by Nikola Tesla himself. 

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Tesla Nation™ is a project by SEE ICT / Startit started with the goal of choosing the best technology inventors and professionals of Serbian heritage and connect them to partners from all around the world,
inspired by the vision and ambition of Nikola Tesla.