And it's time for the next set of challenges in the context of the ImagineCup competition, hosted by Microsoft. It's a great opportunity for students to show their technology skills in various domains, by being able to create projects that help solve several of the most important problems today.
If you are currently a student in high school or college, then you pretty much qualify for the competition. You can check the official competition rules here. Make sure your country is eligible and your educational institution is able to provide proof that you are attending it, since eventually you will undergo a process called Eligibility Verification - you will have to prove that you are a student.
I want to participate! What do I have to develop?
The contest theme requires participants to develop a project (or several projects in various categories) that would somehow help solve or minimize the impact of one of these 8 problems:
- Ending hunger and poverty
- Achieving primary education for everyone
- Promoting gender equality and empowerment
- Reducing child mortality
- Improving maternal health
- Combating widespread disease
- Ensuring enviornamental sustainability
- Developing a global partnership for development
The project should be included in one of the three competitions:
- Software design - Basically, you have to develop a computer application that will follow the competition theme and can be used in real-world to help solve one of the problems mentioned above.
- Embedded development - You will have the possibility to develop an application that helps solve the problems outlined in the theme on mobile devices - working everywhere, anytime and with limited hardware resources.
- Game design - This is your chance to prove that games can be an educational tool - accessible and useful. The theme is still tied to this project.
You have to sign up for each competition separately - just registering on the ImagineCup doesn't automatically sign you up for any of the competitions.
I'm not really a programming kind of student. Can I still participate?
Of course you can! There are two separate challenges that you can get involved in. If you are passionate about video, photo and graphics, then you can enter the Digital Media competition. In case you are more about general information technology, you can enter the IT challenge, where you will be required to answer questions - this challenge is not about basic knowledge, but rather about applying extensive technology knowledge in enterprise and real-world environments.
I'm in! What do I get?
First of all, you get the first-hand experience on creating a project that can be applied in real-life and that can influence millions of people around the globe. As perks for participation, once you advance beyond round one, for some competitions you might get free Microsoft software - this was the situation for last year when I entered the Internet Explorer 8 competition.
This year the Worldwide Finals will be held in the United States of America. The prizes really depend on the competition, but generally if you win in the Worldwide Finals, you will get $25,000 divided equally between team members. For second place - $10,000 (divided equally) and for the third place - $5,000 (divided equally). Of course, you can also be the only person on your team.
Besides, you get the opportunity to establish connections with peers rfom all over the globe who have similar goals, interests and aspirations - that is also one of the main goals of ImagineCup.
Where can I get more information about ImagineCup?
Here is a list of resources you might find interesting if you want to be up-to-date with what's going on at ImagineCup and find out how to get involved in the competition.
- Official ImagineCup Website
- ImagineCup Twitter Account
- ImagineCup YouTube Account
- ImagineCup Flickr Account
- ImagineCup Facebook Account
Here are some resources that describe previous experiences with ImagineCup:
- Wired: Imagine Cup 2010: The Winners!
- Bill Gates: Imagine Cup: the Olympics of Great Ideas
- The Seattle Times: Microsoft's Imagine Cup aims to inspire creativity
- Gizmodo: Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010: Students Take On Big Problems With Tech
- The Huffington Post: The COOLEST Projects From Microsoft's Imagine Cup (PHOTOS)
Ready? Then wait no more and sign up. Personally, I registered for two competitions - software design and embedded development - seems like a great opportunity to develop something interesting. We'll see how it goes, but I am really interesting in putting some of my ideas in code.