Students need to be qualified to work in 21st-century workplace

14 Apr 2009

Ireland needs a pipeline of innovation-oriented students qualified to work in the 21st-century workplace, Microsoft Ireland boss Paul Rellis said today, as he announced that 550 students north and south have entered for the Imagine Cup.

Now in its seventh year, the Imagine Cup challenges students around the globe to imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.

Microsoft is bringing together a group of leading organisations to support the competition in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland is a Gold sponsor of the event, and is joined by Silver sponsor Invest NI and bronze sponsors Lero and Lenovo.

Over 550 students from 35 institutions have already registered for the 2009 Microsoft Imagine Cup. The competition is open to all third-level institutions to compete in nine 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 2008 was a phenomenal success,” Rellis said. “The passion and enthusiasm of the students and their colleges was inspiring and a credit to Ireland.

“The quality of projects submitted by teams north and south once again far exceeded our expectations, and that standard was 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 represented at the world finals.”

He said the Imagine Cup is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in technology, engineering and the sciences by demonstrating the practical and innovative applications of their work, and to attract the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

“It is essential that we look to the future economy and the skills that will be required in the years to come to ensure Ireland’s competitiveness. If we hope to develop a true innovation economy, we need a pipeline of enthusiastic students qualified to work in the 21st-century workplace.

“We believe that programmes such as Imagine Cup will reignite the enthusiasm and passion about the rewards that a career in technology can bring,” Rellis said.

After advancing through the online and local competitions, a short list of students will participate in the finals, which will take place at the end of April in the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin.

The winners of the national final will then compete at the world championships in July 2009 in Egypt, where their entries will be presented to a panel of judges from academia and the technology industry.

Prizes for Imagine Cup 2009 will total more than US$250,000 across the nine categories.

“It truly represents the next generation of technology and business leaders, and will allow Irish students to showcase their talent, ability and prowess on a global stage,” explained Evelyn Smith, corporate marketing, Enterprise Ireland.

“One of the elements that makes this competition so attractive is the fact that the focus is on developing solutions for the real world. We expect to see some really good ideas at the national final, and hope that there may be opportunities for some of the entries to be considered as investment opportunities so that they can actually be deployed,” Smith added.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the Worldwide Finals of last year’s Imagine Cup were hosted at the Musee du Louvre in Paris, France