Silicon and Slices: Computer-science majors at the University of Maryland enjoy pizza courtesy of Google. The web company buys smart and stressed students pizza as part of a recruitment program.


I am ...
A. a computer-science or engineering student
B. a pizza lover
C. stressed out
D. all of the above

Time's up. Put down your pencils. If your answer was D and you go to the right school, Google would like to buy you some slices.

20050421Googs.jpgThey say there's no such thing as a free lunch, and this program is no exception. Google hopes that its small investment pays off later in the form of talented grads flocking to the company on the strength of its gesture. That's why it has given University of Maryland grad student Scott Sherwood (that's him at left, with take-out menus in hand; photo from Baltimore Sun) a blank check to buy his fellow geeks* a meal while they're working on deadline. Says the Baltimore Sun:

And when you chow down, please try and use plates and napkins with the Google logo and take a picture to post on the Web.

Those conditions are just a slight inconvenience for free food, most students say, and beat other recruiting giveaways that are so common this time of year, such as mouse pads, rulers, pens. "We have plenty of pens," Sherwood said. "You can't eat one."

Paying for pizza was the brainchild of some Google engineers about three years ago, according to company officials, who answered questions only by e-mail and wouldn't disclose how much the program costs.

Student ambassadors say they get $500 at the start of each school year and are sent more when that runs out. They have never been told to watch costs, they say. Nearly 100 ambassadors are on campuses nationwide, Google officials said.

No matter how much pizza students can scarf down, it's doubtful it would make much of a dent in Google's finances. Last year, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company made almost $3.2 billion.

Take a picture to post to the Web? After, uh, Googling Google pizza program, Slice found the photos of the Maryland students at top. The following are from the Stony Brook program:

We also found Google Pizza Across America programs in place at North Carolina State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Rutgers.

How can Slice not love this story? We use Google extensively, for searches, news feeds, and the company's cool new maps feature. It figures that a company whose motto is "Don't be evil" would pick up the tab for bunches of college kids. We love Google even more for it.

But, hey, Google: The Slice staff is stressed out and sorta, minorly tech-savvy. How's about buying us lunch?

Seriously, though: We searched for a central page on the Google corporate site that might list all the programs at different schools. Couldn't find it. Is there such a page? Slice would like to link to it. And for any participants in the Google Pizza Across America program, send Slice your photos. We'd like to highlight them.

Maryland Vision Group pizza party video
'Free: pizza to stressed techies,' Baltimore Sun

* When we say geeks, we say it with love. After all, we blog about pizza. How geeky is that?


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