Road to Rio: Our Summer At Bing

In the Photo (left to right):

David Ku, CVP IPG
Melissa Du, Intern
Shannon Phu, Intern
Grace O'Brien, Intern
Derrick Connell, CVP @ Bing, Cortana


Road to Rio: Our Summer at Bing

“We’re in full Olympics swing and are so excited for you to join our Road to Rio!”
When we received that message from our soon-to-be mentor, Kelly Freed, we couldn’t believe it. As interns with the Microsoft Explorer program, would get the opportunity to work on the Rio Games experience this summer at Microsoft. There were still a few weeks of school left, but already we couldn’t sit still: We wanted our summer at Microsoft to start already.
Along with about 300 other Explorer interns, we were divided into groups, otherwise known as “pods”. Our pod had three people: Melissa, a rising junior studying computer science at Stanford University, Grace, a rising sophomore studying product design at Stanford, and Shannon, a rising junior studying computer science at the University of California Los Angeles. We first met each other during intern orientation, and over the course of our internship, bonded over many sushi outings and debugging sessions.
Our main project was to help build the Rio Games experience:

Bing has many experiences like these, to help users find all sorts of information, such as the 2016 Academy Awards and even a Rubik’s cube solver! We were each given ownership of a specific module for the Rio Games Experience.
Melissa would be in charge of building the Daily Predicts module, which used past Olympic data and the Bing Predicts team's machine-learning algorithms to generate an athlete or country's chances of winning a certain event.
Grace would be in charge of building the Social module, which displayed the five most relevant and popular tweets from Rio 2016 at any given time.
Shannon would be in charge of building the Events to Watch module, which used the Bing Predicts team's predictions, based on data about sport and athlete popularity, to display the top five events to watch every day.
Actually building one of these experiences required a strong understanding of what happens throughout the whole Bing system, from data ingestion to user interfaces. We onboarded by getting an overview of the connection between the various major components that are involved in building experiences like these on Bing—which include natural language processing, data storage, and UX rendering.
We then used tools that allowed us to emulate Bing on our local machine and develop our standalone modules in C# before they were merged into the whole Rio Games experience. Our backend development work consisted of obtaining data through layers of caching and then dispatching calls to update data stores so that we could render the new UX. Our frontend work consisted of using Bing's internal frontend component library to build the view of our module.
One of the biggest challenges we faced throughout our project was dealing with the intricacies of the data pipeline. For example, because the Bing Rio Games experience was displayed globally, we had to make sure that each of our modules were localized for the markets that they had to support. Another challenge was learning how to communicate effectively across different teams. Throughout the entire development cycle, we were in close contact with the design team, the editorial team, the Predicts team, and our own dev team, just to name a few.
To get more of an idea of the Rio Games experience that we helped contribute to, you can check out the Bing blog post about it here. We were so excited to see something that we had been working on the whole summer actually ship to the entire world while we were still here, and even more excited to see that the millions of fans worldwide enjoyed the Rio Games experience we helped build.
Of course, none of the above would have been possible without the help of our incredible mentors Kelly Freed, Zachary Garcia, and Barry Lumpkin, who were always there to answer our barrage of questions and help us with whatever challenges came our way. In addition, we'd also like to thank the rest of the Bing Engineering Team for providing us with support throughout our internship. We really couldn't have asked for a better summer and thank our team for providing us with such an amazing experience.

- Grace, Melissa, and Shannon, Bing summer interns