Imagine Cup Stories from 2011

These two bulletins came out earlier this year and I know the university community would find them of value so I’m sharing…

The Bulletins provide a good background for an interview appearing today with Professor Gabriel Wainer where his students are vying for the 2012 Imagine Cup. Here is a link to Gabriel’s profile, research links and interview:


Today's Topic: ACM CEO John White on Finding Tomorrow's Tech Superstars at Imagine Cup
Arizona State's Team Note-Taker, led by ACM member John Black, Featured in Video
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ACM CEO John White thinks young people are good at coming up with creative solutions to real problems. "Competitions like the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup offer a window into the world of computing and its power to address the planet's toughest problems," said White in an interview to highlight the Imagine Cup finals July 8-13 in New York. The event challenges students to build life-changing projects that can transform the world. It also raises the visibility of computing as a driver of innovation beyond the technology industry.

"The ubiquity of computing technology means that the more kids who get familiar with the fundamentals of computing, the more kids we can get involved in using technology in creative ways to do things we can't figure out how to do on our own," said White. He noted that the winning participants in these contests, which include 350,000 registrants from 183 countries, are seen as superstars who are highly recruited for internships and positions at major computing companies.

Among the 2011 finalists is Team Note-Taker led by ACM Professional Member John Black of Arizona State University. The team, which appears in a video produced by Microsoft, developed Note-Taker, an assistive technology to help low-vision and legally blind students take notes in their secondary and post-secondary classrooms as quickly (and with the same ease) as their fully-sighted peers. (Enter password goodmsft to watch the video.)


Today's Topic: Team Note-Taker, led by ACM member John Black, Takes Second Place in Imagine Cup
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Team Note-Taker led by ACM Professional Member John Black of Arizona State University won second place in the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup Software Design competition at a gala ceremony at New York's Lincoln Center. Note-Taker is an assistive technology to help low-vision and legally blind students take notes in their secondary and post-secondary classrooms as quickly (and with the same ease) as their fully sighted peers. The competition, which honors student innovations that address global problems, included more than 350,000 students from 183 countries. The finals featured more than 400 students from 70 countries.

An ACM member since 2004, Black is also a member of ACM SIGACCESS, the Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing. He has participated in numerous ASSETS conferences, which explore the potential of computer and information technologies to support individuals with disabilities as well as those around them.

The Note-Taker project combines a portable, custom-designed camera and a touch-screen tablet PC to allow the user to simultaneously view live video and take typed or hand-written notes on a split-screen interface. View a one-minute video at

Comments (5)

  1. Christopher Frey says:

    Of course this is one of the most important initiatives for the future. We need to use young peoples ability to be creative and to find new ways which we might have missed in the past. It is very important to develop those skills and to listen to our kids when they are young (and not yet spoiled from their first years in a career :)). Regarding 'young kids' I would still suggest to FIRST let them develop the grounders of creativity in a non-virutal world, a world they can touch, smell and listen to. This 'entry level of creativity' you still gain the old fashioned way: playing child games, sports, music, literature, scene play and rethoric … computers are machines – there is no (and I mean really zero) value of teaching young kids how to use a computer. LET THEM PLAY with other kids; the computer they will discover later and more mature.  

  2. Elisabeth Vanderveldt says:

    Having seen and spent time with Imagine Cuo teams in 2010 for the U.S. finals I can attest to the amazing technology solutions these students are producing. More impressive is the burning desire these students have to be socially reposnislbe citizens and create solutions that will benefit the most disadvantaged citizens globally.

    HOWEVER I'd love to see more CANADIAN participation. We have the best and brightest. Let's get them engaged.  Kudos to Microsoft for keeping this going year over year.

  3. Stephen.Ibaraki says:

    Chris, as you indicated, there is much value from encouraging a wide range of activities. However, I see value in early exposure to computing as well due to reality of the information age that we live in.

  4. Stephen.Ibaraki says:

    Elisabeth, your points on improved Canadian participation are good ones. I commend Gabriel on his mentorship of students and encourage those in academia to spread the word.

  5. Susan Ibach says:

    Hi Elisabeth,

    I agree 100% that it would be great to see more Canadian students participating in the Imagine Cup. That's why I am very excited that we are hosting Canadian finals for the 2012 Imagine Cup. We are supporting two categories. Software Design & Windows Phone/Game. The top 3 teams in each cagtegory will be flown to Toronto for the Canadian Finals. The way Imagine Cup categories work, when you host finals, the winner in Software Design attends the worldwide finals in Australia, so we know there will be a Canadian team representing us in Sydney next year! The phone teams who attend the world finals are selected by an international judging panel, so we'll have to wait and see how they judge our Canadian entries to see if we have a Canadian team in that category as well.  But Canadians will definitely have a bigger presence in Imagine Cup this year. Keep an eye on our student blog, and for more details. Or email me at for more details.

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