Harvard MBA Student Looks to Change the World at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Finals

Back in 2006, college student Cy Khormaee found himself participating in a Microsoft competition. Little did he know he’d find himself in the same competition five years later, competing again as a Harvard MBA student with a project that could change the future of diagnosing malaria.

Each year, thousands of college students like Cy participate in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition. The goal of the contest is to demonstrate how technology can help solve the world’s toughest problems, such as poverty and hunger, widespread disease and environmental sustainability.

After college, Cy moved on to a position with Microsoft. In his role as Academic Relations Manager, Cy was heavily involved in last year’s Imagine Cup competition. He became particularly interested in MobiLife, a team that created software that allowed people in developing countries to diagnose vascular disease in children by using cell phones to take pictures of the patients’ eyes. Cy knew he wanted to lend some business insight to this team, so when he decided to leave Microsoft and enroll at Harvard for his MBA, he became a part of that team, now named LifeLens.

LifeLens’ 2011 Imagine Cup project addresses the diagnosis of malaria, one of the world’s most preventable diseases, with a Microsoft Windows Phone that has a lens attached to it. The lens can visualize a blood sample on a cellular level, while the LifeLens software can analyze it to detect malaria, all for very little money. Implementing a cost-effective and powerful tool like LifeLens for the diagnosis and treatment of a widespread disease like malaria could have incredible impact on the management of this disease.

“Imagine Cup is a tremendous springboard designed to get students the exposure they need to implement their ideas on a larger scale,” contends Cy. “We hope to roll out the LifeLens project in countries most affected by the disease, and in the future, use LifeLens to help address other diseases such as diabetes and scoliosis.”

Microsoft shares this vision with Cy and is committed to giving people like him and his LifeLens team the opportunity to bring to life ideas that can positively impact the world. Some past competitors have gone on to secure a great internship or the perfect job, while others have started their own companies based on their Imagine Cup project—and it's all in the name of helping to solve the world’s toughest problems by using technology.

LifeLens will be heading to the Imagine Cup U.S. Finals at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, April 8-11. For more information on LifeLens’ project and Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, view the team’s video here and the Imagine Cup website here.

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