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Imagine that Cup!

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The Imagine Cup is taking place next month, this time at the Farm Inn in Pretoria. The idea of the Imagine Cup is for some of South Africa’s brightest young students to use their technology studies to take on some of the world’s toughest problems.

South Africa’s brightest young minds will join together, using technology to take on the world toughest problems, at this year’s Imagine Cup competition taking place at The Farm Inn, Pretoria on 07 December 2010. The Imagine Cup was created nine years ago by Microsoft with the idea that students can change the world by marrying their technology studies with entrepreneurial projects that present solutions to real-world challenges. Students are creating technology solutions that combat diseases, improve education, ensure environmental sustainability and reduce child mortality, among others. Open to students around the world, the Imagine Cup spans one year, beginning with local, regional and online competitions. The finalists go on to attend the Worldwide Finals in New York City, USA in July 2011. The competition brings students together, motivates the competitors to give it their all, and provides opportunities to form friendships that last well beyond the competition itself. Last year, more than 325,000 students representing 100 countries and regions entered the competition. Vis Naidoo, Citizenship Lead at Microsoft South Africa, says what begins with a burst of inspiration and a lot of hard work for these students can become a future software breakthrough, the jump-start for a budding career, and even create a flourishing new industry for South Africa. ‚The Imagine Cup is unique because it’s so much more than a technology competition. It’s an experience that encourages students to apply technology in ways that tackle the biggest humanitarian issues of our time,‚ says Naidoo. ‚Fundamentally ‚ the Imagine Cup is not a competition ‚ it’s a forum where young people turn their ideas into reality to truly improve the lives of others.‚ This year’s competition is divided into three categories, namely: 1. Software Design This is for the best programmers, thinkers and solution builders who can go after the really tough problems. It’s a chance for the participants to start competing locally, show off their skills and then hopefully advance to the global stage at the Worldwide Finals. This can be formed with a team of three and the team can apply their creativity to developing a solution inspired by the 2011 theme. This is a chance for students to create innovative software and service solutions that unleash the power of technology to benefit South Africa or‚Ķ the entire planet. 2. Development The development level is designed to reward students for basic understanding of the fundamentals of development and problem-solving techniques. This category is designed for beginner developers and to encourage new entrants into the competition. We expect students to come and showcase a working prototype.

This category also helps us bring in universities that have not focused on advanced software development in their curriculum, this is also a good chance for them to come and experience the standard of the Software Design Category 3. Game Design Game Design is where art and science come together. Through one of the three Game Design competition tracks, students can learn and advance toward a career as a game developer or entrepreneur. In this category, students have several options, either to use 3D or 2D, to make it multi-level or single player but they should not forget one crucial thing ‚ they have to take on the 2011 theme in their game which is ‚Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems‚ . They can create a game that is accessible for users with disabilities or an educational experience for children to learn about the environment the options are endless. This year, Microsoft South Africa has partnered with the CSIR Meraka Institute, whose major objective is to facilitate national economic and social development through human capital development and needs-based research and innovation. ‚I’d encourage Imagine Cup students to conceive much-needed solutions to grassroots challenges in rural Africa, by applying innovative business models to their technology solutions,‚ says Roux. BB&D is a gold sponsor in the local finals of the Imagine Cup competition. ‚As South Africa’s premier custom software development company, we want to encourage the local adoption and innovative use of software technologies. This competition is a great opportunity for young minds to demonstrate their problem solving and design skills – used in a manner to benefit society and communities at large – which we are proud to be a part of,‚ says Richard Kantor, Executive: Marketing & New Business Development at BB&D. The applications belong to the teams that created them. In fact, many teams go on to pursue commercial endeavours with their applications. Award prize sponsors are attributed to The Department of Science and Technology as well as Microsoft’s Student to Business program such as the Women in IT initiative.

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