It’s that time of year again when students all over the globe get their thinking caps on and vie for a place in the prestigious Microsoft Imagine Cup, and this year a record 600 Irish students from the Republic and Northern Ireland of Ireland have registered.
This year’s Imagine Cup theme
The theme for Imagine Cup 2010 is based upon using technology to tackle the world’s toughest problems ranging from reducing poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education drawing on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals: education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/Aids & malaria, environment and global partnership.
The competition is open to all third level institutions and there are five categories spanning software design and short film to challenges involving algorithms and programming.
Students’ work will reflect valuable, real-world solutions that address pressing global issues while giving them the opportunity to compete for generous cash prizes.
"Imagine Cup has been a phenomenal success in Ireland. The passion and enthusiasm of the students we have met over the years has been inspiring and a credit to Ireland," said Dr Kevin Marshall, Head of Education for Microsoft Ireland.
Quality of Irish entries exceeds expectations
"The quality of projects submitted by teams north and south has continuously exceeded our expectations and that standard has been reflected in the success of our teams in the world finals. We are looking forward to building on that success this year and we hope that Ireland will be once again be represented at the world finals."
Dr Marshall added that the goal of the Imagine Cup is to encourage students to pursue STEM-oriented (science, technology, engineering, maths) careers by demonstrating the practical and innovative applications of their work and perhaps breed a whole new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Preparing for the global finals
There will be two levels of competition – online and local – before entries are chosen for the finals which will take place on 29 April in the Kevin Street DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) after which the finalist will receive Enterprise Ireland mentoring before they go on to compete in the global final.
The final will take place in Poland in July with prizes totaling more than US$250,000 across the five categories.
"The Imagine Cup is a unique opportunity for students to help solve real-world problems while gaining experience outside the classroom," said Joe Carthy, head of the UCD Computer Science Department and a member of the judging panel for the Imagine Cup Irish finals.
Developing technology innovations, working in a team environment and understanding how to create a viable business plan are invaluable to students who want to successfully achieve careers in today’s world. I am delighted to be part of Microsoft Irelands Imagine Cup judging panel and I look forward to reviewing all of the innovative projects that make it to the Irish finals."
By Marie Boran