'Futuristic Preservationist'

Bill Pfeifer, of Ketchikan, Alaska, who receives his master’s degree in computer science this year, will launch his dream at Microsoft Corp. The company will help him bring the benefits of computer technology to the region near his home, a large, rural, hard-to-access area of the United States.

Fascinating heritage: As an Alaskan Native member of the Tlingit Tribe indigenous to southeastern Alaska, he is passionate about preserving its culture and language—a language that only about 250 people still speak.

A huge, head-scratcher of a problem doesn’t scare this guy: “They have problems with health care and education,” he says, skimming the surface of what he hopes to address. He envisions “remote health care by video-conferencing for diagnosing … and technology that could help a teacher remotely teach with the assistance of a local mediator.” The mediator in the classroom would bridge the language and culture gap between the students and their long-distance teacher.

A tip of the hat to Microsoft Corp.: Hired as a project manager for an anti-malware team at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., Bill will be allowed to travel to Alaska for one week every couple of months to work on a plan to establish the computer infrastructure that his ambitious goals will require.

A keen eye for the big picture: “This is a passion of mine, but the things we will learn, and solutions we may find, will be beneficial to rural communities worldwide. That’s why I’m so drawn to this work.”

By Amy Raley