An elite team of engineers at Microsoft is always ready to go wherever they’re needed and dive into building a brand-new technology, solving a problem or otherwise using their varied expertise to help get an important job done — and it’s no coincidence they’re called the Spartans.
Technically, the name stands for the Special Projects and Resources Team. But really, it refers to the supersoldiers of the popular Halo video game franchise who swoop in and brave unpredictable dangers as they do whatever it takes to complete their assignments.
True, these real-life Spartans aren’t exactly risking their lives — but it certainly makes for an exciting tech job.
“I send them off and say, ‘I need you to go attack this project or look at this area,’ and they hit the ground running,” says Shaiwal Singh, the Spartans’ leader. “They basically look at the lay of the land and figure out how they can make an impact.”
The Spartans — a growing squad of 14 that will expand to some 20 members in the coming weeks — have tackled a broad array of assignments. They’ve helped create the user interface for a mobile analytics platform for Skype, for example, and helped build a real-time pipeline to process Bing Ads data.
They often work on innovations that are among the company’s top priorities, from creating intelligent bot technology that lets people accomplish tasks through natural-language chatting to building the platform that enables machine learning and artificial intelligence at scale.
“Every new project is a new challenge and a fresh, energizing new experience, and I love that,” says Hugo Aponte, a senior software engineer on the Spartans team. “That’s why I’m with the Spartans and plan to be here a long time.”