Let me tell you about my experience when I participated in the Mediaan IT Masterclass . It was a very interesting and interactive workshop that handles subjects like app development, hacking & machine learning. The Masterclass resulted in my awesome ping-pong internship, but it didn’t stop there. The IT Masterclass had a competitive element and the student with the highest score won a trip to a Microsoft conference in the USA. And I assume you already guessed who was the lucky one? The Microsoft event was organized in Chicago and I could choose the flight data on my own. This was perfect news because I wanted to go to New York and Canada with my girlfriend the week after the conference.

Got excited? Sign up for the IT Masterclass of 2020, starting this March!

Heading off to Chicago

Very early on a Sunday (4 o’clock in the morning), Roy (a colleague from Mediaan who accompanied me on this trip) and I catch the plane in Brussels. The flight took 8 hours, but, luckily, Roy had brought along his Switch for us to play on. When we arrived in the streets of Chicago, we were immediately greeted by a musician playing cheerful jazz. After a short trip using the subway, we were settled in downtown and, on the advice of others, we paid a visit to Millennial Park.

Let the conference begin!

The next day was the starting moment of the conference, where we soon found out that we were one of the few Europeans, besides our Bulgarian friends. The whole day consisted of a workshop on ASP.NET with VSTS and TFS. Although the workshop initially looked like a sales pitch, it was still interesting and certainly useful. In doing so, I have mainly taken into account how easy it is to create a complete development chain with VSTS. For general stuff, this can be set up within 5 minutes. That evening, we went to the pub Rock Bottom accompanied by some of the event speakers and other guests of the conference. That was a very nice experience!

Interesting talks about Typescript and .NET Core

The second day started with a good cup of coffee. We definitely would need it, since we had a long day ahead of us. From 8 till 6 AM, we visit talks about, among others, Typescript and .NET Core. I had already heard about Typescript but since I always had less interest in the front-end, I have never worked with it before. However, the introduction convinced me to use it in the future, if I would need it for a project. However, I was a bit more interested in the talks about .NET Core. Since I no longer work in C#, I was not aware of the release of Core. The most interesting thing is that Core brings official cross-platform support to C#, while previously I used Java.

Chicago deep dish pizza

In order to recover from these talks, we played (and lost) UNO afterwards and we went to Pizzeria Uno (what are the odds?), to try out (based on local advice) the real “Chicago Deep Dish Pizza”. After the delicious pizza, we tried to enter the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier but, unfortunately, it was closed. Luckily,we came across an arcade hall on the way back to the hotel and we stayed there the rest of the evening.

Finally got rid of our jetlag

The next morning, we finally got rid of our jetlag and we headed off to the conference. The churros during lunch (churros are great) only made us more enthusiastic about this day. On this second conference day, I mainly followed talks about cloud computing with Azure and, in particular, about Azure functions and microservices. The idea is to make cloud applications more scalable and cost-efficient. The microservices of Functions are (kept as small as possible) units-of-work that can also be scaled in parallel, after which only the actual used CPU-time for the handling of the Functions is paid.

In the evening, we scheduled to go on the Windy Cruise so we had little time for dinner. This called for some proper fast food! The Windy was really something! From the lake, you had a great view of the Chicago skyline and the drinks were free. Could life be any better than this? To end this great evening, we went back to the arcade.

AI and machine learning

On the last day, all the talks involved AI and machine learning. But it didn’t stop there. In the morning, I did not only experienced a wedding, but also a singing Microsoft architect (everything can happen on the last day of conference right?). In the afternoon, I found out that the best application of state-of-the-art image recognition is to simulate how Trump would look like a baby. The latter used the Microsoft Cognitive Services, which can also be used for categorizing images, such as whether a cat can be seen, and recognizing faces.

End of a beautiful week

The next morning, I got up at 5 am to catch my flight to Toronto. All in all, two great weeks on the other side of the ocean! An incredible experience as a result of my participation on the IT Masterclass at Mediaan. Besides this awesome trip, I also got the chance to perform a cool ping-pong internship. I would definitely recommend everyone to sign up for the IT Masterclass of 2020!


This blog is written by Oscar de Leeuw – The winner of the IT Masterclass in 2018.