Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Microsoft says You Can Imagine Yourself to Victory

L-R: Dele Akinsade, Technology Lead for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa & Ngozi Ife Anene, PR & Communications Lead for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa

Team Indwell posing with Microsoft officials after receiving Windows 7 phone at the press conference


This year’s Microsoft sponsored Imagine Cup competition, an annual technology contest among Nigerian students of tertiary institutions will hold in May 2011. The global finale comes up in New York City, USA between July 8 and 13, 2011.
Students from all over the country are therefore, invited to register now for the Imagine Cup 2011, which this year offers a way for organizations working on the world’s big problems to get help from brilliant, passionate young people. In addition, the competition gives Nigerian students the opportunity of learning, collaborating and changing the world by applying their imagination, passion and creativity to technology innovations.
With a theme inspired by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems,” the competition begins with local, regional and online contests before the global grand finale. The Imagine Cup has since grown to become the world’s premier student technology competition with over 350,000 students representing 100 countries participating in the 2010 edition.
At a press conference held today at the Microsoft office in Lagos, Ngozi Ife Anene, PR & Communications Lead for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa said this year’s competition will be different from previous ones because Microsoft has invited intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and non-profits for the first time to submit real problems for the students to consider for their projects, through a new program called Imagine Cup Solve This.
“These organizations recognize that technology solutions can expand the reach of their services and help them more effectively meet the needs of their audiences, while Microsoft can help provide a marketplace of ideas that students can select to address issues that matter most to them,” she noted.
Contributing, Dele Akinsade, Technology Lead for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa said the theme for this year is based on solving tough technology problems adding that the competition has enabled previous winners to become mentors to future winners. “The experience is quite enriching and has significant impact on the lives of the students participating in the event,” he said.
The 2010 edition of the Nigerian Imagine Cup finals was won by Team Indwell, a team of three students from Obafemi Awolowo University made up of Olaniran Abiola, Adeboye Oshinaga and Omole Akinbiyi. The team represented Nigeria at the global finals which held in Warsaw, Poland in July 2010.
“Representing Nigeria at the Imagine Cup finals in 2010 was a great experience. Not only were we able to showcase our knowledge and use of innovative software, we were able to network with other students from around the world and learn more about software development from a global perspective. We plan to participate again this year and win the finals for Nigeria,” said Adeboye Oshinaga, member of Team Indwell.
Relaying their experience before journalists, the team called for greater support from government for programmes of this nature and highlighted the need for a review of the curriculum of tertiary institutions in the country to be in tune with what is obtainable in other countries.  
To commend their efforts at the global finals, the team were presented with Windows 7 phones at the media briefing which held today at the Microsoft office in Lagos.
The winning Imagine Cup team from Nigeria will have the opportunity to travel to the Worldwide Finals in New York, where they will join the brightest young minds to compete on the world stage. Like the three students from Obafemi Awolowo University that represented Nigeria at the Worldwide Finals in Poland last year, the 2011 competitors will gain real life experience, make new friends, and harness the power of technology to take on the world’s toughest problems.
As an example of the type of real-world solutions the Imagine Cup judges are looking for, in 2010, the winning team at the Worldwide Finals from Thailand developed a project that would help the hearing-impaired communicate in the classroom. Their software, called eyeFeel, used a number of technologies, including speech and facial recognition systems and a text-to-sign language translator, to facilitate real-time conversations with someone who is deaf. They were awarded USD25, 000 to bring their innovation to market.
Last year, for example, the Imagine Cup national team winner from the Czech Republic developed a mapping software program known as GINA, for Geographical Information Assistant. The program was used in Haiti last year to help coordinate the efforts of earthquake rescue and recovery workers. More recently, the GINA team launched an online portal to follow the latest developments in Haiti.
Prospective Nigerian participants are encouraged to register their entries in the main categories of software design, embedded development, game design, digital media and Windows Phone 7.

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