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Pupil

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gates stop's by University of Waterloo, Canada

The only stop Bill Gates will be making in Canada is the University of Waterloo [uwaterloo.ca].

Two thousand students listened attentively yesterday morning as Bill Gates talked about how the world got to the present state of technology -- and how the most exciting things lie just ahead.

The Humanities Theatre, which seats 700, was filled with listeners who had managed to get the coveted tickets to hear the Microsoft founder, computing guru and reputed "richest man in the world". Just as rapt was an audience of several hundred more who covered the floor in the Student Life Centre great hall to hear the talk (and see Gates's videos) on a specially installed big screen.

And in the Davis Centre, hundreds more packed the lobby, while spectators lined the balconies on the second and third levels like birds crowding on a wire. Most were, in Gates's phrase, "avant-garde practitioners of the digital lifestyle." Among them: the blogger of Studentlifecentre.com, who posted a minute-by-minute report on Gates's talk and the audience reaction.

Incidentally, founder of RIM, Dr. Mike Lazaridis is the Chancellor of UWaterloo [uwaterloo.ca].

Someone asked what he thought of Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Research In Motion and UW's chancellor, whom he had met for the first time earlier in the day. Gates said he was very impressed with the Waterloo man, describing Lazaridis as having tremendous vision for the research development he supports, and adding that he is "very impressed with his generosity to Waterloo." Asked about a business issue for Microsoft -- whether RIM, maker of the popular BlackBerry, has an "insurmountable lead in the wireless handheld devices" field -- Gates simply stated that in his thinking, "the field is open . . . we're in the field and will do the best we can."

UWaterloo is also widely regarded as the best overall university in Canada.

During a wide-ranging interview with members of the print media in the Humanities building yesterday, Gates praised UW several times as a university that is at the top in terms of talented people, recognition and acclaim.

He singled out the number of interesting "R&D collaborations" MS has with Waterloo, saying that "really stands out for us" as a positive arrangement. As well, he noted that year in and year out Waterloo is probably the top pool for people and talent that Microsoft dips into.

"In terms of scale, Waterloo stands out on a global basis," he said. "There are many years Waterloo is the number one place we hire from in the world," he went on, and it's always in the "top five" of places that Microsoft comes to for talent. He again lauded the co-op program as worthy of special praise, and wondered aloud why other institutions don't follow the same model because his company can hire top students year-round under the Waterloo system.

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