Are people smarter this year than the last year?

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.



Comments (4)

  1. But you didn’t answer the question!

    (The answer would’ve been particularly interesting to me since one of my close friends was a finalist this year.)

  2. Tom says:

    Here in Holland our top 3 teams used parts of wpf and silverlight too. I don’t think that makes us smarter but the silverlight technology is very nice. It’s super easy to use and you can use your javascript knowledge to code it. Our team made a couple of silverlight components like a videoplayer, slideshow thingy and a graph. People in previous years would have a really hard time producing the same results without wpf and silverlight with pure microsoft technology. And using those technologies certainly boosts up the ‘WOW’ factor for your application. So maybe it looks more stunning but I think the people behind it are equally smart as they were in previous years, but just with better technology.

  3. Somasegar says:

    Hi Guillaume,

    Students today have more opportunities and technology available to them than students of yesterday.  So, they have the potential to do more.  


  4. Sys64738 says:

    I completely agree that today’s technology tend to be more user-friendly (and developer-friendly) and easier to use.

    And it is good.

    …but IMHO it requires more skills and technical talent the development of software using e.g. C++ with ATL, than dragging components from a palette like in the .NET (or Visual Basic 6).

    Or it required more talent and bright mind the development of 3D engines by John Carmack (IDSoftware) with no hardware accelerated cards (all well crafted optimized CPU assembly!), than using today C# with XNA…

    Just my 2 cents.

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