The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program recognizes outstanding professionals around the world who lead their communities with their expertise and passion for our tools and platforms. We have more than four thousand MVPs in over ninety countries worldwide and many of them have served as Mentors to Imagine Cup teams over the years.
One such MVP is Rainer Stropek. Rainer is the CEO and co-founder of Software Architects in Austria. When he offered to be a Mentor to some Microsoft Student Partners earlier this year, it stated him on a journey he never expected -- one that resulted in three first-place victories at the Imagine Cup World Finals in St. Petersburg last July!
In these two posts from his blog, Rainer tells his story. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!
Microsoft Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg (July 10, 2013)
Currently I am at the worldwide finals of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg/Russia. It is my first time to Imagine Cup and I am deeply impressed. I was invited to come to St. Petersburg as a mentor for two teams of students, one from India (Y’nots) and one from Austria (Zeppelin Studio). Both teams did a great job presenting their projects in front of the judges yesterday. Congratulations!
In my opinion, Microsoft does an awesome job offering all these students a platform for presenting their ideas and inventions. It is not only the glamorous event of the worldwide finals here in St. Petersburg. I honestly have the impression that Microsoft’s activities for helping students to learn about IT and implement their ideas are an ongoing commitment.
My involvement in Imagine Cup started months ago in the MVP to MSP (Microsoft Student Partners) mentoring program. I had offered to work as a mentor using a website provided by Microsoft for us MVPs. Honestly, I had not expected that a team of students would approach me and invite me to be their mentor – but it happened. Only shortly after I had created my profile, a team from India contacted me and asked me if I could help them. We had regular contact over the last year using email and Skype. Technically these guys are brilliant already. I couldn’t tell them many new things about Azure or software development. However, they asked me for advice regarding their business plan, their ideas, team organization, etc. I was more than happy to help as it was very interesting for me to work with highly motivated students from a different part of the world.
My friends from the Y’nots team and I were happy when we heard that they made it into the Imagine Cup worldwide finals. This meant we would finally meet in person here in St. Petersburg. As I am the only MVP from Austria attending the finals, Microsoft asked me to coach a team from Austria, too (BTW - you have to check out their awesome game Schein). I have taken this request as an honor and agreed. In the last two days I have tried my very best to support both teams by giving tips regarding the presentation and by trying to connect them to other interesting people who I know.
Today is the second day of the competition. Both of my teams have already presented in front of the judges yesterday. In the next few hours they have to present their products live in the exhibition area. I really hope that the judges value the ingenuity of the teams’ software. I will keep my fingers crossed!
You find more pictures in my Flickr album.
Imagine Cup: Three Gold Medals, What a Night! (July 11, 2013)
What a night! Of course I was hoping that the teams I had the privilege to accompany at Microsoft's Imagine Cup here in St. Petersburg would win their categories - but I did not dare to dream of winning all of them. However, they really made it. We travel home with three gold medals 🙂
I am especially proud of the Y'nots team from India as I have consulted them for many months throughout their entire preparation for Imagine Cup. These guys did a great job. They convinced the jury and won the Connected Planet Award as well as the Windows Azure Challenge. I am an MVP for Windows Azure and therefore it is something special that they got this award.
If you want to see more pictures, please visit my album at Flickr.
Imagine Cup was an exciting experience for me. These students have amazing ideas and the power and energy inspires everyone. In their projects you can feel the passion. They dare to dream and do not count every minute or Dollar they invest. They just want to learn and build something they can be proud of. Tomorrow I will travel home but the memories of Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg will stay for a long time. Being a mentor definitely paid off. Thank you, Microsoft, for facilitating it with the MVP to MSP mentoring program.
Again, congratulations to Zeppelin Studio and the Y'nots.