Students bring innovation to global technology competition

Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems, says VOANews.com. That is the challenge posed for innovative young people participating in the ninth annual Imagine Cup in New York. The event, which runs through Wednesday, is billed as the world’s premier student technology competition, is hosted by the Microsoft Corporation…

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Microsoft’s Imagine Cup aims to inspire creativity

As the world’s best soccer players battle for the World Cup in South Africa, an elite group of student engineers will gather in Poland from July 3-8 to crunch code for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, reports the Seattle Times. The competition will feature students showing off software aimed at fighting global problems—such as reducing hunger and poverty, and improving education and child health. The Imagine Cup competition has drawn 325,000 students from 100 countries this year. Microsoft uses the competition to spark software creativity and to encourage students to use Microsoft software. “It’s about getting the next generation of innovators doing exciting things not only for the world, but doing great and amazing things on the Microsoft platform,” said Jon Perera, general manager with the Microsoft Education group. The competition began in April with national finals that took place online and in 68 events in different countries. The finalists from those competitions—about 400 high school, college, and graduate students representing 78 countries—are competing in Warsaw. As in the Olympics, student teams compete for titles in several categories, such as game design and digital media. Microsoft, which declined to say how much it spends on Imagine Cup, awards $240,000 in cash prizes and pays for student travel to the national and international final events. Cash prizes range from $2,000 to $25,000. “Our jaws drop on the floor” when they see the entries, Perera said. A University of Washington team designed a touch-screen diagramming program for blind students to collaborate with other students; two United Kingdom students built a Facebook app to help families separated by natural disaster, such as the earthquake in Haiti, find each other online…

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Avatar’s James Cameron: ‘We need innovators’

Avatar director James Cameron urged young Americans on April 26 to pursue careers in science and technology to keep the United States at the forefront of technical innovation, AFP reports—and his remarks came at the U.S. finals of the 8th Microsoft Imagine Cup, where students presented projects they developed that use technology to fight global problems. “We can’t fall behind in that area. We need engineers, we need innovators,” Cameron said, adding that Avatar would not have made it into cinemas without innovative technology developed by Microsoft and the out-of-the-box thinking of a young team, average age 23, who put the technology to work in the movie. The Imagine Cup aims to inspire young people to use their talents and technology to do everything from making movies to saving the planet. Cup participants have to develop projects that use technology to make a difference in the lives of people in their local communities and around the world. Eighty students out of a starting field of 22,000 made it to the U.S. finals of the competition with projects that dealt with everything from pollution to pediatric illness to poverty. The winner of the software division—a project called Mobilife, by students at the University of California, Davis—will travel to Poland in July to compete against teams from more than 150 nations in the world finals of the Imagine Cup. Mobilife uses the Windows Mobile platform and computer-assisted microscopy to allow doctors who work without the benefit of the facilities of a modern hospital to detect vascular diseases in children. The game design division was won by a game called “Sixth,” developed by students at the two-year Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, which raises awareness of global poverty by putting players into the skin of a child in a slum in India who has to battle his way past obstacles to collect water for his family…

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