Imagine a world where technology can help reduce poverty; feed a hungry child; improve maternal healthcare; enable basic education facilities or solve serious environment issues. Now in its seventh year, the Imagine Cup 2009 is calling on students in the Gulf to set their imagination on fire and rise to the challenge to "imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." As the selection process gets underway, university students from across the Gulf region will get a chance to unlock their creative genius and vie for a spot at the regional finals of Gulf Imagine Cup 2009 scheduled to be held in Dubai next year.
This year's event is being supported by several organizations across the region including Burgan Bank in Kuwait, du Telecom in the UAE and the Information Technology Authority (ITA) in Oman. In addition, CNBC Arabiya, the 24-hour pre-eminent Arabic language business channel, is the media partner for Gulf Imagine Cup 2009. The winners of the regional finals will advance to the Imagine Cup worldwide finals being held in Cairo, Egypt in July 2009 where they will pit their imagination against the world's best young programmers, technologists and designers. At the global finals, students have a chance to win over $180,000 (U.S.) across nine categories.
Commenting on the event, Vimal Sethi, Director, Developer and Platform Group, Microsoft Gulf said, "Microsoft Imagine Cup is where legends are born and lives are changed - where an application starts as an idea and ends up being used all over the world. It is about igniting the imagination of tomorrow's technology visionaries and leaders. When coupled with the power of technology the potential of young people is unlimited and the ideas they develop for the event could significantly improve the lives of millions of people around the world. For Microsoft, this is another opportunity for us to highlight the necessity of supporting student talent in science and technology for future progress in industry."
Explaining why du is sponsoring the Imagine Cup for the second year, Hala Badri, EVP Corporate Communications, du, said, "This programme fits into our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, which is committed to supporting education and enabling young talent to grow. The Imagine Cup creates a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm - not to mention remarkable ideas from students who are working towards a career in computer science, information technology and the digital arts. It also gives students the ability to think beyond the usual boundaries to develop solutions to solve real global issues. du is pleased to be associated with this year's Gulf Imagine Cup to help foster innovation in the region."
Steven Hall, CEO, CNBC Arabiya added, "Being part of the Microsoft Imagine Cup is a great way for us to move beyond the world of business by producing and showcasing innovative programming featuring students who truly want to make a difference in people's lives. The competition also gives students opportunities, separate from their academic work, to test and develop a wide range of skills. CNBC Arabiya is pleased to be associated with Microsoft in creating more awareness through the competition by encouraging students to harness the power of technology to develop innovative projects."
The Imagine Cup 2009 categories include:
- Software Design : We are asking students to create real world software and services applications that use Microsoft tools and technology. It's not just about the PC anymore - students need to think about taking advantage of mobile devices as well.
- Embedded Development : The object of the Embedded Development Invitational is to unleash students' creativity in an effort to change the world into a better place. They will develop their own embedded device whose function it is to better us all. The Embedded Development Invitational challenges students to go beyond the PC desktop and work in both hardware and software to build an embedded solution using Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and the provided embedded platform
- Game Development : The object of the Game Development Invitational is to create a new game that uses both Microsoft's XNA Game Studio 3.0 and Visual Studio. Competitors' games should illustrate the Imagine Cup theme "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." This is a chance for students who've always enjoyed playing games to create their own game and at the same time help change the global community.
- Robotics and Algorithm : Robots need more than gears and wires - they require highly sophisticated algorithms to interpret and interact with the world around them. This competition is a mathematical obstacle course where students must navigate a series of brain teasers, 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.
- MashUp : The object of the MashUp competition is to create a new and useful Web 2.0 application that is connected to the Imagine Cup theme. Students will use Microsoft PopFly to create a new and unique tool that is effectively consumed by other internet users as their Imagine Cup entry.
- Photography : Great photographers know a single image can change the world. In this competition, students communicate a story that explores a critical issue through a photo essay of inspiring still images. The photos must grab the audience and illustrate the students' personal insight into these global issues.
- Short Film : Filmmaking is a technical craft combined with the art of storytelling using moving images. In this competition, students will be challenged to create an original short film and also demonstrate excellence in filmmaking at all levels from concept art to polished editing.
- Design : The object of the Design Invitational is to create a solution of an innovative design for easier machines and human interactions by inspiring students to use the power of technology as means to manifest their creativeness.
- Mobile Development : This category has been specifically introduced by Microsoft for the Gulf region in association with Du in an aim to create a new generation of mobile applications developers. The objective is to unleash the students' creativity and innovation in developing intelligent mobile application suites around specific themes.
As the world's premier student technology competition, the Imagine Cup is Microsoft's initiative to encourage young people to apply their imagination and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference and address real-world issues. Imagine Cup compliments Microsoft's Unlimited Potential commitment to create social and economic opportunity through programs and products that transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities worldwide. It is also endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which is the UN agency that is responsible for the promotion of international cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.
The United Nations has identified some of the hardest challenges in the world today in its Millennium Goals. This year the Imagine Cup uses these ambitious challenges as a guiding light to inspire change all over the world. More information on Imagine Cup can be found at http://www.imaginecup.com