Randy Guthrie – Microsoft Academic Developer Evangelist
http://blogs.msdn.com/MIS_Laboratory

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup is one of the world’s largest student technology competitions, and this year’s events promise to be just as exciting and rewarding as last year.  The Imagine Cup is a lot like the Olympics where competitors from all over the world compete in a variety of events for prestige and big prizes. Many countries (like the US) hold local eliminations for the software design category, but it’s a international smack-down for the game, phone, cloud, and Kinect events. What makes the Imagine Cup different is it’s theme: all of the projects are designed to “help solve the world’s toughest [social] problems”.

With such a wide variety of events, there is something for almost any student with a passion for technology. Getting started is easy, but some key registration and entry deadlines are approaching. This year’s Finals will be held in Sydney, Australia, and Microsoft will be covering all expenses for the finalists who are selected to compete in the final rounds (about 450 students!).

Here is a quick summary of each event, the key dates, and a link to all the details you need to register and compete:

United States Software Design Competition
Scope: create a software project based on Microsoft technology that relates in some way to the Imagine Cup theme. Great way to get extra recognition for capstone or graduate projects.

Round One: Team Formation and Draft Business Plan – February 14, 2012 4:59pm Pacific Time

Round Two: Final business plan, 5 minute video and software at beta level of completion: March 13, 2012 16:59 Pacific

details: http://www.imaginecup.us/competitions/SoftwareDesign/index.aspx#fbid=MyWo7JoClsa

United States Console/PC Game Design Competition

Scope: create a game using the XNA framework that relates in some way to the Imagine Cup theme.

Round One: Team Formation and Draft Storyboard – February 14, 2012 16:59pm Pacific
Round Two: playable game (at least one complete level), game instructions, detailed description, and video “trailer” March 13, 2012 16:59pm Pacific time

details: http://www.imaginecup.us/competitions/GameDesign/index.aspx#fbid=MyWo7JoClsa

United States Mobile Game Design Competition
Scope: create a game using the XNA framework or XMAL (Silverlight) that will run on a Windows Phone emulator or device, or the Zune music player that relates in some way to the Imagine Cup theme.

Round One: Team Formation and Draft Storyboard – February 14, 2012 16:59pm Pacific
Round Two: playable game (at least one complete level), game instructions, detailed description, and video “trailer” March 13, 2012 16:59pm Pacific time

details: http://www.imaginecup.us/competitions/GameDesign/index.aspx#fbid=MyWo7JoClsa

NOTE: the United States and International Game competitions are separate competitions and student teams are highly encouraged to enter BOTH. The deliverables are the same. Students who are enter the US Game competition are not automatically entered into the International competition, nor do the winners of the US competition advance to the International finals. They are separate competitions that just provide more opportunities for students to win.

International Console/PC Game Design Competition
Scope: create a game using the XNA framework that relates in some way to the Imagine Cup theme.

Round One: Team Formation and Draft Storyboard – February 14, 2012 23:59pm GMT

details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=61

International Mobile Game Design Competition
Scope: create a game using the XNA framework or XMAL (Silverlight) that will run on a Windows Phone emulator or device, or the Zune music player that relates in some way to the Imagine Cup theme.

Round One: Team Formation and Draft Storyboard – February 14, 2012 23:59pm GMT

details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=62

Kinect Fun Labs Challenge
Scope: Design a Kinect for PC game that relates to the Imagine Cup theme

Live Webcast Competitor Briefing – February 14, 2012 16:00 and 23:00 GMT

Round One: Team Formation/Registration and submission of your Kinect gadget project plan March 6, 2012 23:59 GMT

The top 100 teams get FREE Kinect for PC sensors so you’ll have all you need for Round 2!

details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=68

Windows [8] Metro Style App Challenge
Scope: Pass one quiz and design an app for Windows 8

Round One : Pass at least one quiz about Windows 8 with a score of 50% or higher (15/30) and you automatically advance to Round Two!
Quiz Start Time (00:01 GMT)

Quiz 1    31 January 2012
Quiz 2      7 February 2012
Quiz 3    14 February 2012
Quiz 4    21 February 2012
Quiz 5    28 February 2012
Quiz 6       6 March 2012

Round Two: Submit your Windows 8 app: Start date March 13, 2012 end date May 3rd 2012

details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=70

Windows Azure (cloud) Challenge
Scope: Design a Windows Azure (cloud) app

Competitor briefing: February 16, 2012 16:00 GMT and February 17, 2012 03:00 GMT

Round One: Registration, concept and prototype design  March 13, 2012 23:59 GMT
Round Two: Finished application submission May 3, 2012 23:59 GMT

details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=69

Windows Phone Challenge
Scope: build a Windows Phone app (not a game) that relates to the Imagine Cup theme

Round One: team registration and concept design March 13, 2012 23:59 GMT
Round Two: app submission May 3, 2012 23:59 GMT

Details: http://www.imaginecup.com/Competition/mycompetitionportal.aspx?competitionId=66

Cheers,

Randy