Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Office ambassador. I was provided transportation and lodging in order to cover this event. All thoughts, opinion and massive amounts of jet lag were purely my own. I recently had the great pleasure of attending the Microsoft Imagine Cup finals in Redmond. I was more than blown away by all of the participants and their technological creativity. Here's a little of what I learned.
What is The Imagine Cup?
It is the world's premier student technology competition. Microsoft invites all eligible students to use their imagination and passion to create a technology solution in one of our competitions and challenges. You have to be 16 and up. This is also a team competition so each team must have a minimum of 4 people.
What can you create?
Whatever your mind can conceive. That's what I love about this. There are three main categories which keeps things interesting: Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship. The teams have to create an original technology project from beginning to end. Idea, plans, building, submission, marketing and everything in between. The technology stipulation is that it needs to use either Windows, Windows Phone, or Windows Azure.
Kids from around the world compete in their countries and then, compete with one another in their category. The semifinals happen in Redmond and from those 3 category winners, one team takes home the cup.
These teams present to judges throughout the week (and those of us lucky enough to be able to sit in the rooms). They talk about their inventions, the marketing, the money behind it, it's like a nicer, more creative version of Shark Tank.
I was really impressed by the semifinalists and what they brought to the table. Check them out...
- World Citizenship: Virtual Dementia Experience - Australia
- Games: IzHard - Russia
- Innovation: eFitFashion - Brazil
I don't know about you but these were amazing products! I may or may not have these on my devices because...support the young people, folks!
My eyeballs got a little sweaty during the presentations. Why, you ask? I kept thinking about those kids. How hard they'd worked to get there. I also thought that the collective creativity and brain power in that one room would've probably solved many of the world's problems.
I was not envying the judges because out of those 3 awesome teams, one had to be the winner of the Imagine Cup. The winner took home $50,000 and bragging rights. That cup is sitting in Brazil at this moment with eFitFashion!
I was proud to have witnessed so much innovation and awesome coming from these kids. I got a chance to hang out with some awesome folks AND a group of ladies I'll tell you about later.
I may or may not have been plotting for ways to get back to NYC when I was 16. Meanwhile, these kids are out here changing the world. I see you, kids. I see you!