Telling stories about robotics and artificial intelligence in an engaging and attention-grabbing manner is a rare talent. Chris Stetkiewicz, 2A Embedded Consultant (EC), has been applying this talent for the past two years as a writer and editor at Microsoft Research—one of only a few computer science research centers outside academia.
2A’s ECs are highly skilled and experienced professionals who function as contracted members of our clients’ teams, and Chris is one of our most accomplished. He and I recently sat down to talk about writing contests, robotics, and dog parks. Here’s a snippet from our conversation.
Kate: With all the groundbreaking work going on, Microsoft Research sounds like an incredible place to work.
Chris: It really is. I feel lucky to get to work with some of the most accomplished people in technology and science. I learn from them every day, and it makes my job interesting. I also work alongside some very talented writers and content creators, and I learn a lot from them too.
Kate: Working with some of the most renowned computer scientists in the world must be exciting, and slightly intimidating I imagine. How do you see your role?
Chris: I find it inspiring. For my part, I bring an external perspective and an appreciation for how people think about technology outside the company, which the researchers don’t always have. I help them understand what they’re doing in the larger context.
Sometimes I craft a story that isn’t exactly the story we were initially setting out to tell, but it’s an effective story to tell for our audience.
Kate: Can you share an interesting story you’ve worked on?
Chris: I recently completed a story on robotics. It’s about a technology called MoCapAct, which is a dataset intended to make it easier for robots to physically move the way people do.
There’s an existing database called MoCap, which stands for motion capture, in which technology is used to track and record people’s physical motions. It’s used to create animated films or computer-generated imagery (CGI). But it’s a lot harder to get robots to move in precisely the same way that people do. MoCapAct—motion capture in action—solves this problem.
Kate: You’ve been writing and reporting in some form or another over your entire career. What first drew you to writing?
Chris: Oh, I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, and I always enjoyed it. In elementary school, I would enter every writing contest and always win. When I took a high school journalism class, I had a letter to the editor published by a local newspaper. After that I was hooked! I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I would read three of our local newspapers every day, cover to cover.
Kate: Seems like news and writing are in your DNA. I understand you started your career as a journalist for news organizations. Now you’re writing for a tech company. What connections do you see between the two?
Chris: A good story is a good story, no matter who’s telling it. The only difference is how the content is delivered. At Microsoft Research, the biggest part of my job entails writing and editing blog posts and social media content, but I’ve also written video scripts, built newsletters, and launched new content programs.
Kate: Sounds like you need to be pretty versatile. On a different note, I know you‘re a dog owner. In fact, your dog has made some cameos in video meetings we’ve both been in.
Chris: Heh. It’s as if he arrives on cue. He knows when it’s a bad time to come and interrupt me, and there he is.
Kate: Ha ha. As a new dog owner, I can relate. Do you have any recommendations for good dog parks in the area?
Chris: I recommend the dog park at Marymoor Park in Redmond. It’s near the Microsoft campus, and it’s got great swimming options. There are multiple spots where you can go on down to the Sammamish River and let your dog take a dunk or get a drink.
Kate: Hmm. I’ve yet to discover if my dog likes the water. Sounds like there’s a good opportunity to find out. Thanks.
Chris: You’re welcome. This park has a way of turning unsuspecting canines into water-loving dogs. Watch out.
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