Rob Miles, the World Citizenship Captain, wrote the following tips and tricks specifically for the World Citizenship Competition. However, his incredibly sage advice really applies to any Imagine Cup contest…
1. Show your solution to as many people as you can even (or especially) people you don’t think will like it. You need feedback on your idea as much as you need oxygen.
2. Make sure it is easy to test your solution. Use simulation to allow you to test your data logging or location parts without walking around the countryside or waiting hours for readings.
3. Have a convincing solution. If your system is intended to help 10,000 users make sure that you show it running with 10,000 users – give someone the job of making good test data.
4. Remember to switch off and have fun sometimes. Some of your best ideas will come to you in the “downtime”.
5. Don’t get hung up on the “best” way to do something. If it can be made to work, and it isn’t stupid, you can call it a best way.
6. Don’t worry too much about the idea at the start. If you keep thinking and bouncing things around amongst yourselves the idea will find you.
7. Leave your ego at the door. If someone finds a fault in your code accept it and move on. If they find a better solution than yours, accept that too.
8. Do things that scare you a little bit. If the idea of speaking in front of an audience terrifies you, it is time you ditched that terror and got on with it.
9. Go end to end. Make sure that you have thought your solution through from the very start to the very end, and make sure you can demonstrate it all the way too.
10. Plan how you are going to present your solution. Make sure you tell a good story.
11. Talk to the experts. Find the person who knows most about your solution area and ask them for help. They might say yes.
12. Use source control. You don’t want one bad edit to destroy your entry.
13. Get a T shirt printed. If you dress like a team, you’ll work like a team.
14. Respect failure. You usually learn a lot more from your failures that you do your successes.
15. Think about deployment. A great solution is nothing if there is no way to get it into the hands of the users.
Again, a very special thanks to our long time volunteer, MVP and 2013 World Citizenship Captain, Professor Rob Miles with the University of Hull in England. If you have questions for him, you can find him on our Community Forums (hint, sign in first.) He is also on twitter, @robmiles.