When you think of a computer programmer, do you imagine a man? Many people do. But when I think of a computer programmer, I think of my mother.
In the mid-1980s, when the personal computer revolution was just getting underway, my mother became a programmer. Her college degree was in art and her paintings and sculptures were all over our house. But she got interested in computers, went to school in the evenings, and was soon a professional developer. She worked on "big iron" -- IBM System/34 and System/36 minicomputers. They were called minicomputers because they only weighed about 700 pounds, much smaller than the mainframe computers they were replacing. She worked in languages like RPG, COBOL, and even FORTRAN, creating and maintaining large accounting and inventory software packages. After several years at one company she went freelance, becoming a "hired gun" who would parachute into a company for a project for several months and then move on to the next gig. She loved life as a dev and my mother was the first programmer I ever knew.
At Imagine Cup, we have seen quite a few female student developers make it all the way to world finals. This year, for example, we had Team Thrizers from Oman who competed in the Innovation Competition with their project ReadX. We want to see more female students pursue their dreams of creating great software, more people like Team Thrizers and my mother.
With this in mind, a few months ago we launched the Women's Athletics App Challenge. We asked teams of female students all over the world to create great software related to athletics and fitness.
Today, we have our winner! Team AdaJAMM from Serbia created Playground, a Windows Phone 8 application for teachers and students. It presents six physical-activity playground games suitable for kids with video tutorials and a system for students to form teams, score, track progress, and compete. Teachers can create challenges for the students using some or all of the games in sequence. They can also add new games and tutorial videos to the roster to expand the list.
The team consists of four members: Jovana Kovac, Ana Rodic, Jelena-Marina Bradaric and Masa Pejcic. All are in the IT program at Belgrade Metropolitan University under the mentorship of assistant professor Dr. Miroslava Raspopovic.
The team writes:
Even though we are a team of freshmen and sophomore year students, we are highly motivated to further our education, as well as academic and professional development in becoming engineers.
This competition really helped us to gain experience in software engineering. It challenged us to work as a team, and to learn how to organize ourselves in software project development.
You can check out their project video below:
Later this month, Team AdaJAMM and their mentor will fly to Seattle as Microsoft's guests to visit the campus, meet with Microsoft's Executive Vice President Lisa Brummel, and attend a Seattle Storm women's basketball game with Microsoft staff. Each student will also receive $1,000.
Meanwhile, the next season of Imagine Cup with be kicking off soon. Make sure you are one of the first to know by signing up for our Insiders Newsletter. There are also a number of opportunities and tools available to students now, so please visit Microsoft Student for all the details.
And finally, congratulations to Team AdaJAMM for a great project and a great effort. And to all the female students out there pursuing their dreams of creating great software: you can do it, too! Just ask my mom.
John Scott Tynes Imagine Cup Competition Manager Microsoft Academic Programs