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Release No. COC-11.21.14-Microsoft
November 21, 2014

Former College of the Canyons Student Now a Creative Brain for Microsoft

Stephen MinarschStephen Minarsch arrived at College of the Canyons in 1999 looking to fulfill basic general education requirements. 

Fifteen years later, Minarsch is enjoying a career as a Hardware Industrial Designer for tech-titan Microsoft. Now a Seattle resident, Minarsch played a critical role in the design of the new “Microsoft Band” fitness product from start to finish. 

According to the company’s website, the Microsoft Band “helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality.”

A fully charged band lasts up to 48 hours, and tracks everything from stress and UV exposure to texts and emails.

The Band went on sale in the United States in limited quantities on October 30.  

“We weren’t going after the watch market, we were going after the band market,” said Minarsch, who went on to the College of Creative Studies in Detroit following his last semester at COC in 2000. 

Minarsch’s most recent educational experience came when he received his master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2011. 

“We designed this as something to wear on your other wrist,” said Minarsch. “It’s meant to be worn 24 hours a day, and keep you from having your head buried in your phone all day.”

Minarsch’s time at COC was limited, but the Seattle-based tech designer credits some of his teachers for making his transition period useful.

“I was just there figuring out what the heck to do with my life,” Minarsch said. “I was naïve, looking for schools and just knew I was good at drawing. Still, there were a few professors who really helped me along with math, put it into terms that I could understand.” 

Commenting on his time with Minarsch was COC instructor Joe Gerda.

“I remember Steven as a hard-working, bright student who worked really well with his classmates,” said Gerda. “I was very impressed with his drawing abilities, persistence and gentle sense of humor.”

COC 3-D Art Design Instructor Robert Walker was another name that came to mind when Minarsch recounted his time at the college, during which he also took visual communication and Photoshop classes.

Considering he worked for Boeing before joining Microsoft, it’s safe to say that the COC graduate has enjoyed numerous opportunities for professional success since leaving the college in 2000.

He has forayed into the world of instruction, yet it occupies a small portion of his commitments — designing products for Microsoft takes up a significant amount of time, it seems.