This was a question I got asked numerous times today.
We had about 10 finalist teams, representing different countries from around the world for the Imagine Cup 2007, visit us in Redmond today. It was fun to get a chance to interact with the students and see their work. Given that this year’s theme for Imagine Cup is focused on Education, all of the projects were about enabling people to learn better.
Afterward, I got a chance to talk to some of the press people who had come for this event. One question that I was asked consistently by a lot of them was whether the students this year seemed smarter than last year’s finalists.
To me, because technology advances every year and students are exposed more to the latest and greatest technology, I always think that students today are poised to do bigger, better things than yesterday. Having said that, here are some of my key observations:
1) Some of these students were absolutely on the cutting edge of technology. At least 4 out of the 10 teams were building apps based on Silverlight. Given that we announced Silverlight only a couple of months ago, it was fascinating to see them not only understand the technology but take advantage of that in such a short time.
2) Digital devices continue to proliferate in a big way. A lot of the teams had multiple devices connected together and working to enable an end-to-end experience that they wanted to deliver for their customers.
3) Passion – the passion, the creativity and the potential that I saw in these young men and women reminds me that today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and I felt good knowing that.