I wanted to give a special shout out to our US students who won prizes this week at the Worldwide Imagine Cup finals competition in Cairo, Egypt. Like I’ve said before, students can do amazing things if given the tools and resources to inspire them to push the boundaries of their imagination. The Imagine Cup is one way Microsoft encourages young people to apply their passion and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference in the world…and in the process gain valuable life and career skills to set them on a path for future success.
This year, 300,000 students from 142 countries registered and competed, creating technology solutions that mapped to the theme “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems” built around the eight UN Millennium Development Goals. Here’s a quick look at the four winning US teams…
• Team CURIOUS – Marc-Antoine Pare and Kathy Pham from the Georgia Institute of Technology won FIRST PLACE in the “Mashup” category (picture on the right). They used Popfly and other software to build a website that uses sentiment analysis algorithms to make content and data more meaningful to people so there is a personal connection.
• Team Epsylon Games – E McNeill from Dartmouth College is an aspiring game designer who won SECOND PLACE in the “Game Development” category. He created an educational game called “Alternex” that allows players to research and deploy alternative energy solutions…and, of course, have fun.
• Team eXchangeFun – Feixing Tuang and Yujia Zhao from Indiana University, Bloomington wanted to encourage sustainable consumption with their project that won SECOND PLACE in the “Design” category. eXchangeFun is a platform for people in their communities to trade and exchange used household items so they don’t go to waste. Additionally, the young women from Bloomington were also presented the Accessible Design Award because their technology solution best addressed accessible needs.
• Team Auratech – Ryan Gentner and Casey Williams, university students from Buffalo, NY, won FIRST PLACE and collected the Tablet Accessibility Award. They created “Mirage,” a teaching and learning environment geared towards teaching physically and mentally challenged individuals with the ability to personalize the experience.
Next year’s Imagine Cup 2010 finals will be held in Poland. The registration process just opened this week. As education leaders, administrators, IT staff and teachers…it is our responsibility to nurture a passion for learning in our students, and I challenge you to encourage your kids to sign-up, think big, and compete on behalf of the US.