The competitors have arrived in Washington DC (OK technically Chevy Chase MD) for the US Imagine Cup finals. Tonight started with a light dinner, some social time, and then some welcoming remarks and discussion of logistics for the next couple of days.

We started with greetings from Microsoft VP for Education Anthony Salcito. An 18-year veteran of Microsoft he will be holding “office hours” to meet with the competitors on Sunday. This will be a great opportunity for students to ask questions of and learn from a senior executive. One of the key points that Anthony made was that the students should regard the weekend as more than just a competition but also an chance to network and make friends. The computer science industry is still a somewhat small community in many ways. The people you compete with today may be co-workers and partners tomorrow. With people from all over the US here this weekend the chance to make friends and learn from each other as well as the formal program is a real opportunity.

Tomorrow the competition starts in earnest. The teams drew for their presentation time slots and now know when they will be presenting their projects. I know that many of the teams will be working into the night polishing their talks and perhaps event tweaking their demos. We start bright and early at 7AM with breakfast and there will be presentations all morning.

The afternoon the competitors will have an opportunity to see some of the sights in Washington. It would be a real missed opportunity not to see some of the sights. I’m going on a trolley tour that promises stops at some 30 different sights. I love DC and am thrilled to be here and get to see some things. Often on business trips, which is what my last visit to DC was, I don’t get to see anything but the inside of a hotel, a conference center and maybe the sidewalk between hotel, conference site and restaurants.

Sunday will have a number of top notch presentations on a number of topics by industry professionals. A good chance to get some education that they may not get in the classroom. Honestly I think this weekend and what students can learn in it is good enough reason for students to enter and work hard to make the finals. Hopefully the students will feel the same way by the time they go home on Monday. Monday will be the community showcase which is open to the public as well as the final round of judging and the announcement of winners.

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