REDMOND, Wash. — April 20, 2009 — How can technology help address some of the world’s toughest challenges? That is the mission facing students across America competing in the Imagine Cup, Microsoft Corp.’s annual technology competition where students design and deliver innovative software solutions that can change the world for the better. Thousands of students from over 125 schools throughout the country registered, and 15 student teams were chosen to participate in this year’s Imagine Cup 2009 U.S. Finals. For the first time, Microsoft is conducting a People’s Choice online voting competition, inviting the public to rally behind their favorite U.S. finalist team. Between now and April 30, people can go online to view videos, read more about the U.S. student finalist teams and their innovations, and vote for their favorite at http://www.icuspeopleschoice.com.
“The students who participate in the Imagine Cup are software visionaries of the future who have a deep commitment to creating a better world,” said Dan Bricklin, president of Software Garden Inc., and judge at this year’s Imagine Cup 2009 U.S. Finals. “The Imagine Cup encourages this type of innovation and helps equip the next generation with skills to grow academically, start companies, and have an impact in their communities and the world.”
Each of the teams participating in this year’s Imagine Cup have developed exciting new ways to use technology — often inspired by personal experiences — aimed at achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The challenges the students took on this year include these:
Combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The finalists’ software applications range from a discreet way to provide HIV/AIDS patients with personal complex medication regimens directly to their mobile phones, to a worldwide database where doctors, medical researchers and cancer patients can enter demographic and environmental data, thereby enabling data mining of globally collected information.
Improving education. Projects include low- to no-cost, Web-based learning activities that allow multiple children to participate with multiple mice on one computer, and downloadable and expandable lesson plans designed to work as a virtual learning environment for classes in remote areas.
Improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. There were many ideas from students, including a mobile telemedicine monitoring system that tracks expectant mothers and their pre-delivery vital signs remotely, and a cost-effective, mobile healthcare infrastructure that captures images of patients’ conditions — specifically for rural, underdeveloped countries looking to ensure that medical help reaches patients in a timely manner.
Ensuring environmental sustainability. Students developed a number of unique technologies, such as a system that enables companies to monitor carbon footprint and temperature differences in their racks of data servers; mobile devices that take picture images on the spot and send them to a database for scientists and environmentalists to perform analysis and determine pollution levels; and a distributed pollution prediction system accessible via mobile handsets where people can compare local pollution conditions with their location in real time.
“The imagination and creativity, and the global responsibility these students have for making the world a better place, are an inspiration to technologists and entrepreneurs around the world. Many of the biggest breakthroughs we see come from the creativity and imagination of students,” said Anthony Salcito, general manager for Education, U.S. Public Sector, Microsoft. “It’s apparent through the students’ passion that this next generation has social responsibility in their DNA.”
From May 2 through 5, the teams will gather at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, Mass., to showcase their innovations to a panel of judges. They will also receive coaching and hear from distinguished innovators and entrepreneurs, including Dan Bricklin, best known for co-developing VisiCalc, the pioneering electronic spreadsheet, and they will participate in an Advanced Invention to Venture workshop organized by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (http://www.nciia.org) where they will receive instruction and interact with qualified coaches to develop and articulate a strategic plan for their venture. Over the course of the three-day event, the judges will select a winner to represent the United States at the Imagine Cup 2009 Worldwide Finals in Cairo, Egypt, which will take place from July 3 to 9. There, the U.S. winning team will join their imagination and passion with those of the brightest young technologists from around the world. Students from more than 100 countries around the world are participating in the Imagine Cup this year.
“The Imagine Cup served as a springboard for bringing our ideas and solutions to market. Today we are pursuing our dream of green business, which we never would have thought possible,” said Ryan Tilton, from Team CarbonCart, which placed second place in the 2008 Imagine Cup Software Design competition. “We’ve learned through Imagine Cup how to recognize the potential of an idea and go through the steps to make it a reality.”
More information about the Imagine Cup can be found at http://www.imaginecup.com and http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/imaginecup.
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