By Emeka AGINAM
At the just concluded world’s premier student technology competition, Imagine Cup 2011 held in New York , the United States of America, speakers rose from the event saying that attainment of Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) by the year 2015 deadline requires urgent assignment by the creative students who showcased their products at the event that had about 400 technology wiz kids from 70 countries around the world.
With the participation of eight African countries including Nigeria whose Medicare product was ranked fifth in the People’s Choice award even with zero support from both private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy, Microsoft had asked some of the world’s most talented students, software programmers, hardware developers, game designers, video enthusiasts, and dreamers to imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems as identified by the United Nation in the Millennium Development Goals.
Although no African country won in the finals, the products and solutions showcased during the technology contest by these creative students can compete in the international market. For one thing, products showcased during the event and the lecture series, according to findings have the capacity to transform the world.
Speaker after speaker at the signature event of Microsoft were optimistic that significant strides have been made towards the MDGs , yet reaching all the goals by the 2015 deadline remains challenging, unless technology students that represented the world at the 2011 Imagine Cup competition take their project to the next level in form of home work.
Meanwhile, the special advisor to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) Dr. Jeffrey Sachs at the opening ceremony of the premier technology event told the participating college high school students that they have a home to do in the Millennium Development Goals using Information technology as a tool.
Standing before hundreds of creative software incubators who represent pinnacle of innovation in software incubation, he said that there are many challenges ahead on how to solve many problems facing the world especially, hunger, disease among others as outlined by the United Nation in the MDGs
“So, we’re giving you a homework/assignment. It’s not for the semester; it’s for your lifetime. But a homework / assignment really that is nothing less than saving the planet and making sure that we have the future of the prosperity and hope that future generations yearn for and that we, as fragile as we are, as stewards of the planet are desperately seeking.
“The Millennium Development Goals, which I’ve advised Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, the two great recent secretaries general, are our first way station in this effort. They go to the core of whether we have the decency and the smarts on the planet to ensure that everybody can survive on the planet because it’s nothing less than that.
“You already are on a path of global change through ICT. Now, the truth is this is an incredibly weird time in the world that we’re living in. By virtue of your being here, you are the problem-solvers that are going to solve these problems.
“Now, I have been a professor for 31 years now, and I’m pretty tough on the exams that I give, and I have to say that my generation is giving you guys a pretty tough exam. The MDGs can be achieved with your technology works” he said.
For the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer who was pressing for bold measures to meet the MDGs by these students using technology, he urged the participating students to act boldly to meet the social and economic targets of MDGs.
“This is an assignment for all of you. The MDGs must be achieved using technology. All of us are involved in this business. We’re involved in changing the world. We get to do things, just based upon our creativity and ingenuity, and brain power they really can make the world a better place, whether it’s a technology innovation that actually translates into technology, or technology innovation that transforms healthcare, the environment, accessibility for the disabled, quality of life for the elderly, or many, many other things.”, he said.
While advising the students to be tenacious, he said that products that were showcased should be taking to the next level.
“If you want to take your ideas to the next level, they would require more time, more attention, and more tenacity. The MDGs using technology is an assignment for you all” he said.
Foe the excited Jon Perera, General Manager, Academic Programs, Microsoft, the student’s achievements, innovation, hard work could be used to solve the world’s toughest problems, adding that the participating students have got a home work to do ahead of deadline of MDGs.
“ You guys represent your cities, your universities, and your countries, and the world, in fact, is already a better place because of what you guys have done.
“You’ve started a conversation. You’ve built new solutions. You’ve started discussions with partners around the world. That’s critical. And that’s what the Imagine Cup is all about. We challenge you to solve the world’s hardest problems using technology” he told the gathering.
Meanwhile, at the closing ceremony of the premier student technology competition, most of the speakers were very optimistic that the MDGs can be achieved with the efforts of the students who have designed products that can tackle world’s toughest problems.
Eva Longoria, CEO of the Startup America Partnership Scott who was on hand to present the Imagine Cup People’s Choice Award to Team Rapture, from Bangladesh. told the gathering that solution to global problems lies in the hands of the student’s work.
“You are reason why we are here. You represent the world. The assignment we are giving you is to take your works to the next level. Develop it. Deploy it. We are proud of you” he said.
For the judges who were selected from the globe, Imagine Cup student’s software contest can retool student’s creative work to the next level.
“It is sometimes very difficult to sort out the best work fro these students. They all have amazing and creative works that can sold to the international market. They works ca solve poverty, disease, better education, equal opportunities for women, and healthier environment” Rob Miles, a lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Hull who is also Captain to the judges said.
“The solutions developed by these students can be taking to the next level. The products developed by these students if fully developed can go a long way in solving the world’s toughest problems, Dr. Kayode Alese of the Federal University of Technology Akure, a mentor to the Nigerian team said.
According to him, Team Nerds has done Nigeria proud having ranked 5th position out of 124 products in the people’s choice ward. We will take the product to the next level, he said.