CAIRO: “Imaginative, inspiring, innovative and world changing. This is how the winners of Imagine Cup 2009 were introduced at the awards ceremony organized by Microsoft Tuesday night at the Pyramids.
As the lights dimmed, traditional Egyptian dancers surrounded the stage, an accent to the historic Pyramids that set the background for the closing ceremony, where it was announced that next year’s finals will take place in Poland. The Imagine Cup flag was passed on from Egyptian officials to the Polish prime minister and Microsoft Poland’s general manager.
“We are truly in the presence of greatness, and everybody here is a winner, said Joe Wilson, senior director of Academic Initiatives, Developer and Platform Evangelism Division at Microsoft.
Wilson kicked things off, followed by an impressive array of presenters including Microsoft General Manager Jon Perera, Corporate Vice President Walid Abu-Hadba, Corporate Vice President Michael Golden, Microsoft Vice President for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Ali Faramawy, and Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Tarek Kamel.
Over the course of three days, 444 students from 149 teams representing 70 countries competed in the global student technology competition in nine categories and for 10 Achievement Awards.
All projects and applications were formulated using Microsoft technology based on this year’s theme: “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.
“The creativity and imagination that students poured into their projects this year was incredible, Wilson said. “Many of these projects have the potential to have a serious impact on how we address society’s most pressing issues.
Students beamed with pride and the aura was one of satisfaction to have participated in the competition and creating a project with a humanitarian cause.
Trailblazers from India, winners of the Unlimited Potential MultiPoint Education Award created a project to raise awareness about malaria. With malaria being one of the leading health problems in India, the team decided to come up with an animated program that educates users about symptoms and how malaria spreads in rural areas, the students told Daily News Egypt.
As well as learning about a range of issues targeted by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the students honed other skills that will help them in their quests to become future entrepreneurs.
“Throughout the development process we worked really hard and learned a lot about game design, about our world and about ourselves. A project that demands this kind of dedication and teamwork is a unique experience and opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally, said members of LEVV IT from Brazil, first place winners of the Game Development category.
Some teams faced several obstacles to attend the competition. The Palestinian team had difficulties getting through the Gaza border, and was unsure “until the last minute if they would be able to be to enter Egypt. The team had assembled a weather forecast project in the Software Design category.
The students arriving from Chile were sent back home after arriving at Cairo International Airport after one of them team members was diagnosed with the HIN1 flu virus.
Big Buddy, a program that sets out to solve early education distance learning problems and designed by an Egyptian team from the German University in Cairo, won second place in the Suzanne Mubarak Award.
Wilson urged students to build a solid network with each other: “This is only the beginning; it is an opportunity that has been put in your hands. What matters now is what you do with it.
Imagine Cup 2009 Winners
Software DesignFirst place: SYTECH, RomaniaSecond place: Vital Lab, RussiaThird place: Virtual Dreams, Brazil
Embedded DevelopmentFirst: Wafree, KoreaSecond: iSee, ChinaThird: Intellectronics, Ukraine
Game DevelopmentFirst: LEVV It, Brazil Second: Epsylon Games, USThird: Sanquine Labs, UK
Robotics and AlgorithmFirst: Lukás Perutka, Czech RepublicSecond: Byron Knoll, CanadaThird: Lin Fuming, China
IT ChallengeFirst: Cosmin Ilie, RomaniaSecond: Wu Chang, ChinaThird: Miklos Cari Sivila, Bolivia
MashUpFirst: CURIOS, USSecond: Monastery of Innovations, PolandThird: PlanetKY, Singapore
PhotographyFirst: Voodoo Delirium, CroatiaSecond: Woolgathering, SingaporeThird: Terada, Japan
Short Film First: Fulham Four, UKSecond: ChennaiCoolers, IndiaThird: Just4Fun, Ukraine
DesignFirst: Willburn, BrazilSecond: eXchangeFun, USThird: Paindepices, France
Suzanne Mubarak Special AwardFirst: kAMUflage, PolandSecond: Big Buddy, EgyptThird: WikiChildProtect, France