For the last few weeks, thousands of students in dozens of countries all over the planet have been competing in the Imagine Cup Local Finals. They've formed teams, dreamed up big ideas, and then set to work making amazing software. This July, we're going to send several hundred of them, the best of the best, to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. With more than one million dollars in prizes at stake, the pressure will be on and I know these students are going to deliver.

Come the Imagine Cup awards ceremony on July 11, they won't be alone up there on stage: Matt Smith will have their back.

Who better? Smith's intelligent and witty portrayal of the BBC's iconic time traveler has won fans young and old all over the world. The Doctor's mastery of technology is only matched by his creativity, his compassion, and his sense of wonder at all the amazing things people can accomplish when they are inspired by hope instead of being ruled by fear.

I certainly learned from the Doctor's example. As a kid in Memphis, Tennessee, in the early 1980s I loved two things: programming on my computer and watching the Doctor. I even built my own K-9 out of a cardboard box, duct tape, and a calculator! And from all of this I grew up to make my own career as a creative technologist who gets to spend his days helping the next generation find their path.

Each year at Imagine Cup we dedicate ourselves to showing the world how young people can rise from anywhere and shine a brilliant light on our future. I'm grateful that this year Matt Smith will be there with us to infuse that light with his own charm and intellect. And you can watch live online as Matt hosts our award ceremony on July 11, right here at ImagineCup.com. I can't wait!

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon in the studio with Matt as we shot the video you see below. He's just what you hope for: enthusiastic, warm, collaborative, and deeply optimistic about what young people can accomplish. And like the rest of us, he's eager to find out: What's next?

John Scott Tynes
Imagine Cup Competition Manager
Microsoft Academic Programs