I’m in New York for the worldwide finals of the Imagine Cup this weekend. On Monday I will move over the the Computer Science Teachers Association CS & IT Conference. For right now I an enjoying the excitement of 400 competitors from around the world who are here competing and representing their home countries. There are 70 different countries represented here making this a truly international event! There are languages other than English being spoken everywhere (honestly not that unusual in New York ) But English is the common language as students are making friends and learning for others constantly. I hear a lot of sharing of ideas going on and there will be more as the showcase opens up I am sure. Last night was the welcoming ceremony. (From the Imagine Cup blog)
Today’s Imagine Cup 2011 Opening Ceremony was packed with celebrities and successful American business leaders, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, foursquare Co-founder Dennis Crowley, Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Also yesterday, CNN featured Steve Ballmer and some of the Imagine Cup finalists in a segment called "The world cup of science fairs" It’s a short but interesting interview talking about how students are actively working to change the world and make it a better more healthy place for everyone. Health care does seem to be a theme for a lot of competitors this year by the way.
For myself this is a time to meet people whose work I admire (from the various teams), connect with old friends (Microsoft employees from around the world) and to connect with people I have so far only known online. Top of this latter list is Rob Miles from the University of Hull. Rob and I have been commenting on each others blogs and linking to each other for years. A bunch of years. But until today we had never met in person.
I’m about six foot tall and I think the hat adds height so you can see how tall Rob is. His personality is also large and it was every bit as cool meeting him as I had hoped. Rob is the captain of the Imagine Cup Software Design Invitational which is the premier event in this assortment of competitions and challenges. This means he is hard at work making sure the judging is as fair and as transparent as possible. The role of the various captains is critical and we really appreciate someone like Rob taking the time and spending the energy helping to make this all work.
I’ve also attended some of the competition presentations to the judges. This picture is of Team Dragon who are developing a way to make testing ones breathing capacity a game for asthmatic children. It turns out that children with serious asthma need to check their breathing twice a day. For most of them it is a tedious “homework assignment.” This makes it very difficult to get regular and consistent results that can be used for diagnostic purposes. By attaching a device to a Windows Phone they are making this process into a fun game. The kids get to “breath fire” in an imaginary game. The game provides incentives for playing it twice a day with some hours in between.
These teams are giving some very professional presentations. The judging job is going to be tough. Yeah, I’m glad I am not a judge. Well that is a brief look into what is going on. More news as it happens. In the mean time, please take a look at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide People’s Choice page and vote for your favorite. Personally I’m voting for the teams from the US.