Imagine Cup US 2012: The Process

Written by Megan Benjamin

You may have seen the call to sign up for Imagine Cup US 2012. If you’ve checked out the site, chances are you’ve at least started imagining a world where technology helps solve the world’s toughest problems—so why not make your ideas reality?

Between the big brainstorming sessions, project planning, coding, and revisions, there are a few crucial steps, dates, and deadlines to keep in mind. To make your life just a little simpler, here are the steps in the Imagine Cup process, all in one place.

Step 1: Sign up at It’s fast and easy! By signing up, you'll gain access to promotions, free software, and exclusive Imagine Cup info. Do it now! If for any reason you cannot follow through on your project, we understand, and the goodies are yours to keep.

Step 2: Get some teammates. Organize a team of up to four students, 16 years and older, including yourself. The rules are pretty open here. Teammates can be from different schools in the United States. (If you live outside the U.S. then you need to apply here for the Worldwide Imagine Cup.) Teamwork’s a big deal in the Imagine Cup competition, so either choose teammates that live nearby or be savvy enough with communications tools to telework like it’s 2099.

Step 3: Get a mentor. Someone who’s been around the block can be the key to success, helping to answer the tough questions and pointing out your project’s biggest potential challenges. For more ideas on choosing the perfect mentor, click here.

Step 4: Decide which world problem you’re trying to solve. Need ideas? Get inspired by the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Step 5: Pick your poison. Or pick several. You have four competition options and two series in which to compete (Fall Series 2011 and Spring Series 2012, although unless you already entered in Fall Series Round 1, you’ll have to wait for Spring Series). Each team can enter once per series per competition. After you and your team make your choice, your next steps will vary depending on the challenge you choose. Here are your choices.

 1. IT ChallengePass a quiz, write a great essay, win thousands (sweet deal). Take and pass an IT quiz during one of the five remaining quiz dates (November 15, 2011; December 1, 2011; December 14, 2011; January 9, 2012; January 26, 2012) and you will automatically advance to the second round. Write a great case study-based essay and you could be on your way to Sydney for the Worldwide Finals. 

2. Game Design Competition: Phone OR Game Design: Xbox/Windows: Create a game design storyboard or a game design summary and submit it by February 14, 2012 for the Spring Round 1 competition (the deadline for Fall Round 1 has already passed). If you make it to the next round, submit a playable game, game summary, game play instructions, and a short video introducing your team and the game by March 13, 2012 for Spring Round 2.  For the finals (in beautiful Sydney, Australia!) bring along a playable game, a game summary, three game screenshots, and a short game video.

3. Software Design Competition: Submit your project plan (required template here) and wireframes or a prototype if you have one by February 14, 2012 for the Spring Round 1 competition. If you make it to the next round, you will need to submit a working prototype, an updated project plan, and a short video by March 13, 2012. For the finals, you will present up to two different 20-minute live presentations with a 10-minute Q&A about the software application along with a beta version of the software.


Still have questions? See if you can’t get answers here. If not, post your questions here and we’ll answer them the best we can!

Comments (3)

  1. Jonathan says:

    really helps me understand what this contest better- sounds cool. thanx

  2. Son Chung says:

    How much could someone win if they go all the way?

  3. @Son Chung- Depends on the challenge! If someone were to win the US contest and the worldwide contest, in addition to a trip to Sydney, Australia (including airfare, hotels, and select meals and outings totally covered) their cash prize totals would be the following:

    Software Design: $31,000

    IT Challenge: $16,000

    Game Design: $14,000

    Pretty sweet, right?

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