ImagineCup from a judge’s view

ET_2008As you know now, the ImagineCup final in Canada is soon, very soon. As this is the first step to go to the worldwide final, I thought it could be great to have a quick interview with one of the judges. Etienne Tremblay, also a Canadian, was kind enough to answer my questions.


Hi Etienne, as a judge for the ImagineCup final for a couple of years now, in your own words what this competition is all about?
This is the best “conference” I have attended in the last 5 years, first in Korea, next in Cairo, followed by Paris, then Poland and finally New York last year.  It is just the best gathering of selfless ideas by student that really want to change the world.  They are super motivated and really want to show us their idea and they want to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.  They have a goal to solve the world biggest and hardest problems as stated by the Unesco Millennium goals and they do a great job doing it!

Can you explain what is your role as a member of the fairness committee?
For any completion to be considered fair, there needs to be rules, as part of the fairness committee, my fellow members and I make sure that the rules are looked at and that all the teams can get a fair shot at winning.  That involves making sure the scoring is normalized to account for judges ranges, we also look at all the rounds and what they (the teams) need to present, the time they are allotted and the time for QA with the judges.  There is a lot going on in the background that needs our attention and I’m really proud to be a member of that team.

I’m sure it’s not easy to find a winner among all the amazing projects, but which one amaze you the most?
I have seen a LOT of projects, about 20-25 each year (x5) is about 120 projects, plus the prelim rounds that can go up to more than 200.  There is such a variety of projects that it makes it hard to pick one.  The project that marry a good purpose, great innovation and architecture and an outstanding business model usually make the final 6 and that’s where the project really shine.  The team needs to be real cool cats presenting in front of 500-600 people plus all the media up at the top.  But they usually pull it off.  I don’t want to pick just one, making it to the top for me is a great achievement for all those teams and their project were all worth it.  Solving drought issues, malaria, communication over desert via the radio, Kinect rehabilitation programs for patients, a glove for the blind and mute to be able to read are just examples of the kind of project that make the finals.

I need to say that I’m jealous as you will go to Australia for the final. Except the travel what are the other advantages for students to participate?
This will be the best adventure of their lives for the camaraderie, the competitiveness, the global exposure, to see if they got what it takes to be an entrepreneur, for the meetings with other students, judges and the host country reception, I want to emphasize that fact, the host countries in all the Finals I have attended have all done a great job receiving, wining and dining, and showing off their best features to the student.  This will be something they will never forget and will talk about for a long time.  I might sound cliché but being nominated is more than just an honor for the students, they should view participation in an event like this their first door into the world of competitive work.

Any tips and tricks for our Canadian students?
Make sure you read all the criteria and cover them all.  Read the criteria and ask yourself if you were listening to your presentation would you understand what you are trying to present.  A good trick is to ask something that has no idea about your project (mom and dad or another student that doesn’t know what you are doing for example) and run the presentation to them make sure they tell you if they “got it”.  That goes a long way.  Also make sure you talk about how you plan on funding or making money with your idea this is worth 10% of your mark and can make a difference between being 12th or 13th…  

Thanks for your time Etienne, and good luck to our Canadian team!

Etienne Tremblay is an Associate Director in charge of the Microsoft technologies center at Fujitsu Canada in Montreal. He has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and he specialized in Microsoft technologies in the last 12 years, specifically in managing the development process, he also has expertise in the mining and manufacturing industries. He has spoken at DevTeach since 2005 and is a Microsoft MVP and Imagine Cup Software Design judge since 2007.

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