In ‘Imagine Cup,’ students with computers compete for gold

Thanks to Microsoft and other companies, students no longer need to be Division I athletes to dream of competing in the Olympics.

The Imagine Cup is a technology development competition designed to find the best software and web designers in the world that has been dubbed the “Software Olympics.”

Instead of medals, though, these athletes compete for prizes totaling over $170,000 in the nine competition categories.

Not bad for amateur athletes.

The theme of this year’s competition is “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all.”

In order to reach the world championships in Seoul, Korea in Aug. 2007, students must compete online and at the local, regional and national levels.

The competition is not just for software and web designers.

Other competitions include photography, short film and interface design within the larger digital arts category.

There is also a category for special skills in which students compete to design and maintain IT systems or use algorithms to attempt feats like decoding the human genome.

Project Hoshimi is a competition in which students compete online to design a program in order to save the day in a fantasy life or death battle.

Now in its fifth year, the competition continues to work toward the goal of challenging students to create a better world through technological development, according to the Imagine Cup website.

More than 65,000 students in 100 countries competed in last year’s Imagine Cup competition.

In total, over 100,000 students have competed in the competition.

“The students who participate in the Imagine Cup represent the next generation of technology and business leaders,” says Sanjay Parthasarathy, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism Group. “Their creativity and innovation speak volumes about the promise of technology to really make a difference in peoples’ lives and in the way we think, work, and communicate.”

The official Imagine Cup website for the 2007 competition includes several online forums that allow students and competitors to share general experiences, advice and opinions on category-specific topics.

Previous world championships were held in Spain, Brazil, Japan and India.

To be eligible for the competition, persons must be at least 16 years old and enrolled at an accredited high school, college or university.

Official rules also state that in order to claim prizes, competitors must grant the competition’s organizer royalty-free access to assess, test and market their designs.

Winners, however, do not have to sign over financial rights to their designs.

Students living in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria are ineligible for the competition, according to official rules on the competition’s Web site. No explanation was offered for these exclusions.

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