Microsoft Announces U.S. Winners of 2003 Imagine Cup Programming Competition

REDMOND, Wash., June 10, 2003 — Today Microsoft Corp. announced the U.S. winners of the Imagine Cup competition, which seeks to provide students around the world with resources to use technology and Web services to solve everyday problems. The U.S. winners advance to the world championships, which will be held June 30–July 1 at Microsoft®
TechEd Europe 2003 in Barcelona, Spain. The 2003 winners from the United States are Tu Nguyen from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Robert A. Wlodarczyk from Stony Brook University in New York.

After reviewing an overwhelming number of submissions and narrowing the list to 12 finalist student projects in Seattle last month, a joint team of judges from Microsoft and the University of Washington selected the Nguyen and Wlodarczyk projects as winners based on the criteria of 30 percent innovation and creativity, 20 percent implementation of Microsoft .NET technologies and Web services, 20 percent social responsibility and commercial value, and 20 percent overall presentation.

“Imagine Cup is about empowering students to apply their creativity and knowledge toward making the world a more-connected place,”
said Dave Mitchell, group product manager of U.S. Academic Developer Marketing at Microsoft.
“Both student teams embody the pioneering spirit that is so important to the computer science, engineering and business discipline and the high-tech industry overall.”

The inspiration for Tu Nguyen’s Point of Delivery Systems (iPODS) solution came while working in his parents’ Vietnamese restaurant in Omaha, Neb. The application, which runs on a Pocket PC device, helps bridge the language gap between English-speaking waiters and Vietnamese-speaking chefs by translating the order into each person’s native language. The waiter enters the order into the device, from which it is transmitted to a local server that in turn translates the data from English into the chef’s native language and sends the order in that language back to a printer in the restaurant’s kitchen. The automated ordering process eliminates the dual data-entry process and the inconsistency of paper tickets, ultimately saving the staff time and the restaurant owner money.

“Many restaurants today face language barriers between the customers, wait staff and the kitchen. The inconsistency of orders due to the naming convention of the entre items often adds to the frustration for everyone involved,”
Tu Nguyen said.
“Web services and the Microsoft .NET Framework have helped streamline the ordering process for employees while boosting customer satisfaction.”

Robert Wlodarczyk was inspired by the explosive interest in digital photography in developing his application. Wlodarczyk’s Photo Album Web Service solutions provide users with advanced cataloging and organizational capabilities. Users can keep their photos in a central location and make them accessible to others via the Web. Web services enable users to manage photos by creating categories and make comments as well.

“The main goal of this project was to address the problem of users who want to do more with the photos that they’ve just taken with their new digital camera,”
Wlodarczyk said.
“In most cases, users want to share their photos with friends and family and also want to organize photos in a categorical fashion along with providing some additional personalized information about the photos. This organization provides them with somewhat of a living database of their activities.”

The Imagine Cup is designed to energize the creativity and technical savvy inherent in academic institutions throughout the world. After winning regional competitions, which cover five continents, student teams will convene in Barcelona at TechEd Europe to present their entries to a panel of judges from academia and the greater technology industry. The top three regional finalists will be selected, and the overall winner will be revealed during the TechEd Europe 2003 keynote presentation on Tuesday, July 1. Prizes for the Imagine Cup total $50,000 (U.S.).

About Microsoft

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