Imagine Cup Egypt 2009: Tackling Tough Problems & World Can’t Wait


Round one doors closed, this year, more than 300,000 students from 100 countries are registered for Imagine Cup 2009, a Microsoft Corp. competition that challenges them to use their technology skills and imagination to address the world’s toughest problems. Winning students from local, national, regional and online competitions will compete at the Imagine Cup finals in Cairo, Egypt from July 3–7, 2009.

Imagine Cup continues for the 7th year to encourage students around the globe to imagine a better world in which people are empowered by technology created by the students’ talent and innovation. The United Nations has identified some of the hardest challenges in the world today in its Millennium Development Goals — ranging from halving extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education. Microsoft is calling on young programmers, artists and technologists to rise to this challenge: “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.”

Students will participate in categories ranging from software design and games development to multimedia and self-expression. Their work will showcase new solutions to many of the world’s most difficult issues, while giving them the opportunity to win generous cash prizes.

People who don’t know the categories: this year Microsoft is calling on participants to bring their ideas to life in nine categories, each catering to a different talent:

  • Software Design. Students create real-world software and services applications that use Microsoft tools and technology — including mobile devices. Competitors are asked to demonstrate innovation on the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Windows platform as they conceive, test and build applications that will help improve the world they live in.
  • Embedded Development. Students develop their own embedded device designed to function for the betterment of all. This invitational challenges students to go beyond the PC desktop and work in both hardware and software environments to build an embedded solution using Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and the provided embedded platform.
  • Game Development. Students create a new game that uses Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 and Microsoft Visual Studio. This category offers students who’ve always enjoyed playing games a chance to create their own game and, at the same time, help change the global community.
  • Robotics and Algorithm. This invitational is a mathematical obstacle course where students must navigate a series of brainteasers, code challenges and algorithmic puzzles to demonstrate their ability to understand the potential of robots in our world.
  • IT Challenge. Students are challenged to develop, deploy and maintain IT systems that are elegant, functional, robust and secure. This demanding competition requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the science of networks, databases and servers. They also need to show their analytical abilities and make tough decisions in IT environments.
  • MashUp. The object of the MashUp competition is to create a new and useful Web 2.0 application. Students will use Microsoft PopFly to leverage current third-party data and services available on the Internet to create a new and unique tool that is effectively accessed by other Internet users.
  • Photography. In this competition, students communicate a story that explores a critical issue through a photo essay of inspiring still images.
  • Short Film. This category challenges students to create an original short film and also demonstrate excellence in filmmaking at all levels from concept art to polished editing.
  • Design. Students create an innovative design for easier-to-use machines that help improve human interactions. Students are encouraged to use the power of technology as means to manifest their creativity.
After advancing through the online, local and regional Imagine Cup competitions “Round 1 – Qualification” which closed May 20th, 2009; qualifying students will gather in Egypt at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals to win prizes for Imagine Cup 2009 which total more than $180,000 (U.S.) across the nine categories. The second round constitutes with eligibility for worldwide finals.

During Round 2, Teams must make a thirty (30) minute presentation that includes a demonstration of the solution; provided, however, that additional entry deliverables may be required, and participation in the Round 2 – Worldwide Finals will be subject to the Round 2 Details that they will establish and provide to teams on-site at the Worldwide Finals.

I wish the participating teams good luck for making the world a better place.

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Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.