Bill Gates is addressing students today at the University of Waterloo, which is about 90 minutes west of Toronto. Lucky us. Only 650 students get to breath his air, and as the Globe & Mail reports, they got tickets by virtue of writing the most compelling reasons to attend.
This is his only Canadian visit, and it's part of a 3 day/6 campus tour across the US and Canada. He doesn't get up here often, and if he's only going to one place, Waterloo makes sense. The campus has been one of Microsoft's top recruiting grounds for many years, so it's a nice way to recognize the school's contribution to the company's success.
That's a worthy item on its own, but the subtext is even more interesting. Waterloo is also the home of RIM, and the inventor of the Blackberry, Mike Lazaridis, happens to be the Chancellor. Bill Gates is scheduled to meet with him during the visit, but I don't expect there will be any hasty merger moves coming from this. But with all the daily news now among all the IM, IP and software majors making top-this moves, anything is possible. Ever since Skype/eBay, nobody wants to be left without a dance partner once the music stops.
So the best and brightest from that school either stay local and work for RIM, or go west to Redmond and work for Bill. Given the competitive issues around RIM and Microsoft, I'm sure the culture within Waterloo's engineering program is very interesting. Would love to hear from any recent UW grads out there on what it's really like there. Ping me here, or email me - firstname.lastname@example.org