Team Sasrutha from the University of Moratuwa crowned as the winners of Imagines Cup 2008 Competition - Team Sasrutha consisting of Sapumal Ahangama, Chethiya Abeysinghe, Supunmali Ahangama and Dasuni Kannangara receiving their award from Professor P. W. Epasinghe, Chairman ICTA.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Sri Lankan leg of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008 came to a grand close on the 22nd of April, at the Galadari Hotel Colombo, when the best of the six software design finalists bagged the championship title. Team Sasrutha from the University of Moratuwa, is the lucky team to head out to Paris in July this year, to compete at the Global Finals. This year an unprecedented 700 students registered for the competition from around the country; more than triple the number of registrations compared to last year. Local teams have shown a keen interest in almost all the competition categories this year, with 20 teams having competed in the Short Film category, 10 teams in the Photography category and 43 submissions in the Software Design category.
Sponsored by Microsoft, the world’s premier student technology competition – the ‘Imagine Cup’ encourages teams from around the world to send in innovative submissions, for an opportunity to compete at the global finals. Every year, the competition welcomes students to apply their technical and creative talents toward solving a different social challenge; "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment” being the theme for this year.
Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Microsoft Country Head commenting on the competition said, “The quality of entries at this year’s Imagine Cup, as indeed those in previous years, is proof of the vast pool of IT talent available right here in Sri Lanka. Microsoft is happy to provide the creative youth of Sri Lanka an opportunity to showcase their talent and address real world issues through their innovations. It is only through exposure to international level competitions such as these that Sri Lankan talent can become competitive and achieve recognition. I congratulate the winning teams and wish them the very best in France as they seek to make Sri Lanka proud.”
UNESCO, which has signed a global cooperation agreement with Microsoft to promote socio-economic development around the world, has officially endorsed the ‘Imagine Cup’, which is in keeping with their unique mandate to promote international cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.
The winning teams speak of their projects, experience and mounting anticipation to take on the world at the Global Finals in Paris later this year;
Team Sasrutha consisting of Sapumal Ahangama, Chethiya Abeysinghe, Supunmali Ahangama and Dasuni Kannangara with their project “Haritha Prayathna” was adjudged the winners in the software design category at this year’s local competition. Though commonly from the Universtiy of Moratuwa, this team was made up of two students from the Faculty of Engineering and two students from the Faculty of Information Technology respectively. Their project, titled “Haritha Prayathna” is an aim to popularize and encourage the public to reuse and recycle waste as a measure of reducing environmental pollution. According to Sapumal, leader of team Sasrutha, “Any development to meet the requirements of the present should be without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In this regard, maintenance of the quality of the Earth’s environment for the future generations is a prime responsibility of the present generation. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 Governments affirmed the importance of solid waste management in maintaining quality of the Earth’s Environment. At this summit, it was decided to give priority attention to reuse and recycling of solid waste, in addition to waste prevention and minimization as a strategy for environmental protection. Thus, in our project, we try to popularize and encourage the public to maximize environmentally sound waste reuse and recycling as a measure of reducing environmental pollution.”
Pro. Dileeka Dias, Dean Faculty of Information technology and Dr. Visaka Nanayakkara, Head of Department, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Moratuwa hailed the university’s performance at the event, saying “All of us at the Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Moratuwa are thrilled about our students winning the top award at the Imagine Cup 2008 after competing with the best young talent in the IT field. They have been working extremely hard, spending many sleepless nights designing and then fine-tuning their products. It is a very well-deserved victory, and we are proud of them. I wish the winning team all the very best at the Imagine Cup international competition. It is also noteworthy that this is the fourth consecutive year that our students have won this award. Microsoft has, through this competition, given a chance for innovative young people to excel and be recognized. I hope that more students will be encouraged to participate in this in the future, and make use of this valuable opportunity.”
Coming in at a close second place with their project “EDUMS” was team Gagana from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) consisting of Randima Egodawatta, Amila Gamlath, Minosha Jayasuriya and Thiwanka Kaluarachchi. According to the team their project - Electronic Document Management System (EDUMS) is the solution to the problem in which, the current paper based communication areas are replaced with a simple, low cost and easy to use electronic document generation and management system. Following them in third place was team Will Power, again from the University of Moratuwa Faculty of Engineering, with their project “Cleaning License Management System” by team members Hasini Gunasinghe, Chamini Annakkage, Saumya Wanniarachchi and Shyama Gunarathne. CLMS, according to them is a web based application to be used as a general policy in order to reduce the smoke emitting vehicles and overcome air pollution caused by vehicles in the country.
The final was adjudged by a panel of judges headed by Professor P. W. Epasinghe, Chairman of ICTA, assisted by Mr. Harsha Purasinghe, Chief Executive Officer – Microimage (Pvt) Ltd., Mr. Ranil Pathirana, Finance Director – Hidramani Group of Companies, Mr. R. Semasinghe, Director Natural Resources – Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Mr. Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager - Microsoft Sri Lanka. The judges weighted the teams’ performances on a model that laid emphasis on how well each project was planned, executed and presented and was also rated for their ability to provide a clear proposal with the right context in a predetermined time limit.
The ‘Imagine Cup 2008’ which has been slightly altered from last year, in relation to its nine categories, has discontinued the Web Development category, whilst a Game Development category has been introduced, thereby inviting students to develop games using Microsoft XNA Game Development Studio. Also, these nine competitions are grouped overall under three main sections, namely, Technology Solutions, Skills Challenges and Digital Arts. As a result, this year the competition saw two teams from the Game Development category making it to the next round, with six teams for Project Hoshimi as well as two teams from the Short Film category joining them as well. It is noteworthy that Team Tear of the University of Moratuwa who competed in the short film category for the second consecutive year, made it right through to the ‘Worldwide Six’ in the ‘Short Film’ category last year at the World Festival in Seoul, South Korea, thus creating the hope that this years teams too will either follow suit or better yet, top last year’s performance at the global finals.
To add to the satisfaction of creating innovative solutions to real-life social issues, winners at the world competition are also rewarded with many cash incentives. In addition to the main competition prizes given out at the worldwide competition, Microsoft has also introduced several new prizes, such as the Software Design Windows Live Award with a cash price of $10,000 and the Interface Design Accessible Technology Award with a cash price of $8,000. In addition, the Software Design Interoperability Award has been designed to recognize the software solution that best leverages ‘out-of-the-box’ Microsoft technologies and blend them with other technologies, to connect people, data, or diverse systems in an innovative way. The experience gained by participating in this challenge is geared to help students build important technical skills that are highly valued in the job market.
The ‘Imagine Cup’ also exposes students (sometimes for the first time) to work in depth with the latest Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft.NET XML Web Services and Microsoft Visual Studio® programming tools. The competition also introduces participants to some of the company’s other academic support programs such as MSDN® Academic Alliance, which provides access to Microsoft developer tools - platforms, and servers for instructional and research purposes, Microsoft Student Partners - a global outreach effort on university campuses worldwide, and Academic Days - which are conferences sponsored by Microsoft that bring together faculty to discuss current topics in computer science teaching and research.
The Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator (ICIA) programme is an extension of the competition, which takes the software design champs into the next stage of developing their innovative ideas as a business. The ICIA, a joint project from Microsoft and BT, is a prize awarded to the best software design teams from the Microsoft Imagine Cup. Teams selected for the Innovation Accelerator program receive technical support and business coaching to create the must-have technology and communications applications of the future. Over an intensive two-week period, students further develop their designs and viable business plans with close guidance from some of the best minds at Microsoft and BT. And that’s not all - locally too the the to Winner, 1st runner-up and 2nd Runner up teams have also gained internships from ACLO Information Technologies , Teamwork Technology and hSenid Software respectively.
The students maintain intellectual property rights over their projects and can create businesses from their concepts in their home country or gain venture capital funding elsewhere - the future of their dream is in their hands. The Innovation Accelerator program is designed to inspire new generations of students to apply their skills and creativity to make a difference, both locally and globally, through technology.