Why was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at last nights State of the Union address?

Michael Cottuli

Last night’s State of the Union address, the last one being put on by the Obama administration, was part of one of the executive branch’s most publicized traditions. The State of the Union is made to be something of a campfire for the American people, where everyone gets together with the President, who makes sure that everyone is on the same page with the issues of today. It’s an event which, more than anything, shows what’s relevant to the administration, and the nation as a whole.

With that status in mind, the fact that Microsoft’s own Satya Nadella was in attendance as a guest of the First Lady is especially interesting. According to the White House, he was there because of his significant influence on the progress of computer education in the United States.

A great many people were brought to the State of the Union address last night – from high-achieving college students to politicians. The reason that there’s such a large number of guests is simple: the First Lady’s guests are meant to be symbols of what issues the administration is holding in high regard. A post by the Office of the Press Secretary listed the guests as  those that “personify President Obama’s time in office” and people who “represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.”

Microsoft has been a leader in expanding access to computer science in K-12 classrooms, and in Teach.org, a private public partnership to increase awareness of and support for the teaching profession.

Satya Nadella was there to represent Microsoft because of the company’s massive impact on the world of computer science education. With tremendous support in projects like Teach.org and Code.org, Microsoft has taken a significant interest in making sure that education is something that continues to get the required attention. On top of those projects, Microsoft has dedicated $75 million to expanding computer science education by bringing on several new engineers to help “team-teach” computer science.

Nadella’s presence at the State of the Union was a confirmation by the Obama administration that Microsoft’s efforts to expand the world of Computer Science education have had a real and tangible impact on the way that young people are being taught today. In a world where we’re entering into a new frontier of technology, the importance of making sure that the next generation can carry the torch can’t be understated.

Microsoft’s dedicating a significant portion of its resources as a company to making the future brighter is a big deal, and will have a real and lasting impact on the future of computer science. With the formal acknowledgement of this achievement at the State of the Union address, Microsoft is further empowered to use its resources to continue improving the standards of education for the new frontier of technology.