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Microsoft in your community

Expanding datacenter education opportunities with Des Moines Area Community College

After partnering with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) to launch the Datacenter Academy program, school leaders approached Microsoft about using virtual reality technology to enhance learning opportunities and educate the community about datacenter operations.

Creating a virtual environment for datacenter exploration

In partnership with Des Moines Area Community College, Microsoft contributed $30,000 towards the creation of a virtual learning lab (VLL)—a simulated datacenter environment for students and community members to interact with and learn from. The school aims to capitalize on the gaming mentality and culture of younger students to drive interest in and recruitment for the Datacenter Academy program. The project is slated for release in March 2020, in conjunction with DMACC’s ciLive!, an annual conference that celebrates innovators in many different fields by bringing them together with students and the community.

The creation of the virtual learning lab will be done, in part, by DMACC software development students, while the lab itself will be housed in the school’s maker space. Using the VLL, students in the Datacenter Academy (and others) can apply hands-on learnings in a virtual context, without the risk of damaging physical hardware. A tablet will provide objectives, and students can simulate common datacenter repairs, tasks, and service requests. The maker space where the VLL will be located offers public hours, allowing community members to visit and tour the datacenter virtually, without raising security concerns or interfering with datacenter operations. This project gives Microsoft and the datacenter more visibility and allows Microsoft to become a more active member of the Des Moines community.