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Imagine Cup: Anxiety, expectation as 21 teams advance to final round

By Emeka Aginam reporting from New York
As the 2011 edition of   Microsoft Imagine Cup student’s software competition in New York city, the United States of America is drawing to a close, there appears to be growing anxiety and expectations among 21 teams advancing to final round of the completion.

With this, six Software Design teams, six Embedded Development teams and nine Game Design teams respectively across three different categories are among the 21 teams advancing to the finals.

With excitement, the  21 teams heading for final presentation tomorrow  (Tusday), Suzi LeVine, Director, Microsoft Academic Programs have said that the finalist “have clearly shown how they adhere well to the Imagine Cup theme of solving the world’s toughest problems using technology.”

Team Nerds Inc. from Nigeria tests out some of the cool projects at the Imagine Cup.

This year, more than 350,000 students from 183 countries had registered for Microsoft Corp’s Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition.

It would be recalled that 18 teams in the Software Design category and 12 teams from Embedded Development had initially scaled through the semi final.

However, each team will present their projects to a new panel of judges and the winners will be announced Wednesday at the world festival and awards ceremony.

Although no African country made the list for final round, the following countries were shortlisted for finals in different solution categories.

*Software Design: China, Ireland, Jordan, New Zealand, Romania, and United States
*Embedded Development: Brazil,   China, France, Romania, Taiwan and United Kingdom
*Game Design Mobile, France, France, and US
*Game Design Web: Philippines, Poland and Slovakia
*Game Design XNA/Windows:  Brazil, Czech Republic and Thailand.

It would recalled that more than 400 of the brightest young minds from around the world  came to  New York to showcase their innovative ideas in using technology to solve the world’s toughest problems.

As the winners of regional, national and online Imagine Cup competitions, these high school and university students represent the pinnacle of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism from 73 countries and regions around the globe.

For one thing, the   124 student teams had secured their places at the ongoing  worldwide finals event, where they have been   demonstrating technological advancements in problem solving and competing  for international recognition and $215,000 (U.S.) in cash prizes in categories including Software Design, Embedded Development, Game Design, Digital Media, Windows Phone 7, IT Challenge, Interoperability Challenge, Windows 7 Touch Challenge and the Orchard Challenge. The students’ projects tackle serious humanitarian issues, often inspired by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, such as the environment, health, accessibility and education.

“Some of history’s greatest inventions were created by students. With the Microsoft Imagine Cup, students apply their innovative thinking to real-world causes in order to generate the future’s greatest inventions as well,”  S. Somasegar, senior vice president, Developer Division at Microsoft had earlier said, adding that, “To see young innovators and entrepreneurs harness their creativity and talent to benefit a greater good is absolutely inspiring.”

Last year, Team GINA from the Czech Republic was among the finalist teams that competed at the Imagine Cup 2010 Worldwide Finals in Warsaw, Poland. The team developed GINA (Geographical INformation Assistant), an innovative software system for mobile equipment that provides navigation in difficult terrain, helps coordinate rescue teams, and enables the efficient exchange of geographical information.

Together with the humanitarian organization Hand for Help Europe o.s. and its partners, the GINA system has been deployed in Haiti to track the progress of the cholera epidemic, and recently has been helping rescue workers in Japan monitor areas affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country.


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