Contest challenges students to get creative, tackle a major global issue and win big money with their ideas.
Imagine a world where technology solves a country's water shortage and provides a cleaner source of fuel or reduces the demand for energy. Imagine coming up with a concept that could help solve some of the world's biggest environmental issues and winning big for coming up with the idea.Students interested in saving the environment while earning cash and traveling to great places can get involved by entering the Imagine Cup 2008. Microsoft Corp. has opened registration for the competition, inviting students from the United States and around the world to use their talent, imagination and know-how to address those and other sustainability issues.
Now in its sixth year, the Imagine Cup challenges students around the globe to imagine a world made better by technology and created by their talent and innovation. More than 100,000 students from 100 countries competed in last year's Imagine Cup. This year, Microsoft hopes to top that, calling on students to go green, dream big and rise to the challenge to "imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment." After advancing through online, local and regional competitions, finalists will be chosen to compete on the global stage at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Paris next summer. There, students will have a shot at winning more than $180,000 (U.S.) across nine categories.
But the Imagine Cup doesn't just give students the chance to win money; it also can help kick-start their career. A number of Imagine Cup competitors have gone on to turn their software designs into real-world business realities, including Imagine Cup winner Tu Nguyen of Omaha, Nebraska, who is now the vice president of technology at DocCenter Inc., a Software as a Service (SaaS) content and document management solution provider.
"After the Imagine Cup, things started to click for me because people see the potential in the student," Nguyen said. "It's not about the grades anymore. It's about what the student can imagine and deliver."
Putting Creative Ideas to the Test
The nine categories of competition for Imagine Cup 2008 range from software design and video game development to challenges involving algorithms and programming. But the Imagine Cup is not just for high-tech enthusiasts. It also features digital arts categories such as filmmaking and photography for the artsy types. Students who enter get the opportunity to compete for generous cash prizes and career-boosting opportunities such as having their very own booth at the PAX Penny Arcade Expo, the nation's largest gaming expo; showing their winning film at the Seattle International Film Festival; or getting a two-page spread in American Photo Magazine, to name just a few.
Imagine Cup 2008 Categories
- Software Design. Students create real-world, dynamic and powerful software solutions using Microsoft tools and technology. Competitors are asked to demonstrate innovation on the Microsoft .NET Framework and the Microsoft Windows platform.
- Embedded Development. This competition challenges students to go beyond the desktop, challenge their creativity, and build a complete hardware and software solution using Windows CE and the hardware provided.
- Game Development. Video games have become a major source of entertainment for kids and adults alike. So, for the first time, Imagine Cup is challenging students to utilize Microsoft's groundbreaking new XNA Game Studio Express to create a game that is not only entertaining but socially responsible as well. The Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge will be the ultimate test of students' creative and technical skills.
- Project Hoshimi. Comic-style graphics bring to life the world of Professor Hoshimi and his faithful crew of scientists and programmers as they engage in a fantasy battle of life and death.
- IT Challenge. Students are challenged to develop, deploy and maintain IT systems that are efficient, functional, robust and secure. They must also demonstrate proficiency in the science of networks, databases and servers.
- Algorithm. Through a series of brainteasers, coding challenges and algorithmic puzzles, students discover and implement the right algorithms.
- Photography. By using a photo essay format, students are challenged to communicate a story about education using only photos as the communication medium.
- Short Film. Students are challenged to share a perspective on the Imagine Cup theme and to express themselves in the digital media. From concept and storyboard to footage and editing, the participants must be able to create a film that moves the audience while conveying its strong purpose and meaning.
- Interface Design. This invitational challenges designers to create functional, compelling, forward-thinking user interfaces. Competitors have the opportunity to envision an application, connect it to the theme of the Imagine Cup and show the world how their skills bring it to life.
The finalists in several categories are competing for cash prizes and career-boosting opportunities at the worldwide finals to be held in Paris from July 3 to 8, 2008.