Saturday, June 9, 2007

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2007


Kuala Lumpur, 8 June, 2007 – The annual Imagine Cup competition is back and better than ever! Sponsored by Microsoft, the competition returns this year with a fresh challenge for tech-savvy tertiary students themed “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all". This time around, Microsoft encouraged young programmers, artists and technologists around the world to bring their ideas to life in nine competition categories on three different subject matters, namely Technology Solution, Skills Challenge and Digital Art.

In the lead up to the worldwide finals in Seoul, Korea, the top young minds in our country battled it out in Malaysia’s Software Design category finals - the only category which requires teams to compete locally to earn their right to represent their country at the worldwide finals.

“Imagine Cup represents the emergence of the world's next generation technology and business leaders. The students’ creativity and passion speaks volumes about the promise of technology to really make a difference in peoples’ everyday lives, in the way we think, and in how we work and communicate. For Microsoft, this is another opportunity for us to highlight the necessity of supporting student talent and fostering innovation in science and technology for future progress in the industry,” said Tyson Dowd, Senior Director, Malaysian Software Economy Division, Microsoft Malaysia.

Speaking of the Malaysian finals, Dowd continued, "We are pleased to have brought Imagine Cup to Malaysia for yet another year. The local competition has seen many inspiring entries, including the winning solution, the I-Learning Platform from team The Return. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and application of artistic talent as exemplified by the team that we hope to cultivate and further nurture amongst students in Malaysia via Imagine Cup".

Team The Return of USM, comprises of Low Khong Teck, Ng Tiong Kuan, Ooi Boon Sheng and Eng Aik Kian took home RM5,000 worth of prizes, including an all-expense paid trip to Seoul, Korea to participate in the worldwide finals after defeating 5 other local teams for the title of Malaysia's best. Team The Return impressed the judges with their winning solution, the I-Learning Platform. The solution aims to promote a dynamic multimedia education system on computers, and comes with comprehensive monitoring and control features. The system allows the distribution of education software remotely and promotes a safe environment for children to use computers for education purposes.

“Throughout the duration of this competition, we have learned so much more than just technology but applying what we know, utilising our different skill sets to package a solution that is user friendly yet has significant impact in solving a real-world problem," says Team The Return. “The experience is invaluable and we would like to thank Microsoft for encouraging innovation through initiatives like Imagine Cup, where students can develop and showcase their creativity and technology talents. We are honoured for the opportunity to represent Malaysia at the finals in Korea and look forward to competing with the world's top innovators. We will give it our best!"

“We are confident that our local teams have the talent to compete globally. We wish team The Return all the best in Seoul. Malaysia Boleh! ” Dowd added.

The Imagine Cup, now in its fifth year, is an annual technology competition designed to provide an outlet for students to explore technological and artistic interests outside the classroom. Over the past five years, the Imagine Cup has experienced tremendous growth in the number of students participating and the number of countries and universities represented.

Imagine Cup 2004 drew more than 10,000 students from over 90 countries competing for a total cash prize of $85,000 USD. In 2005, the competition added five invitationals for a total of nine for tertiary students, and 3 more invitational for high school students, seeing the number of participants growing to 16,000. Last year, competition in New Delhi attracted more than 65,000 students from 100 countries with a $125,000 USD cash prize up for grabs. In August 2007, students all over the world will convene in Korea to earn the right to call themselves world champions and win a total of more than $170,000 USD across the nine categories.

The nine invitationals for Imagine Cup 2007 are:

Technology Solutions

· Software design. For this category 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 Microsoft Windows® platform as they conceive, test and build applications that can change the world for the better.
· Embedded development. Devices are becoming smaller, more portable and are having a greater effect on our everyday lives. Formerly called the Windows Embedded Student ChallengE, this competition challenges students to go beyond the desktop and use their creativity to build a complete hardware and software solution using Windows CE and the hardware provided. Teams of three to four competitors and a faculty mentor will build a working prototype of a device that can help solve some of our world’s toughest problems.
· Web development. The Web has redefined how people inquire and learn, opening new possibilities for individuals to become exposed to ideas, movements and topics. This invitational calls on students to use the Web to create innovative educational sites for their peers using ASP.NET and leveraging new technologies creatively to take Web development to the next level.

Skills Challenges

· 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. Programmers are faced with real challenges, and compete directly online with people around the world to see who can create the fastest program to save the day. The game requires coding skills and algorithmic ability to devise and implement strategy for a multiplayer head-to-head game. The results play out in a real-time 3-D environment for all to see.
· IT challenge. In this category students are challenged to develop, deploy and maintain IT systems that are efficient, functional, robust and security-enhanced. Students must also demonstrate proficiency in the science of networks, databases and servers, as well as the areas of analysis and decision-making in IT environments.
· Algorithm. Through a series of brain teasers, coding challenges and algorithmic puzzles, students discover and implement the right algorithms, attempting feats such as decoding the human genome and routing millions of packets across networks.

Digital Arts

· Photography. Through a photo essay format, students are challenged to communicate a story about education using only photos as the communication medium.
· Short film. This invitational highlights the art and science of telling a story. Students are challenged to share a perspective on the Imagine Cup theme and express themselves in the digital media of film. From concept and storyboard through shooting 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. Creativity and usability are the necessary ingredients of a well-designed user interface, one that contributes to a successful piece of software or Web application. This invitational challenges designers all over the world to create functional, compelling and forward-thinking user interfaces. Competitors have a unique opportunity to envision an application, connect it to the Imagine Cup theme, and show the world how their skills bring it to life.

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