S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
I spent the evening earlier today in the Imagine Cup ’09 Finals event.
It was a great experience to hold the Imagine Cup Awards ceremony at the foot of the Giza Pyramids in Cairo – one of the most ancient sites of engineering history.
Think of the countless weeks, months and years of detailed planning that it took to envision this end result. And of course, one person did not build these structures alone… the amazing amount of collaboration, man-hours and teamwork is staggering. Built over 4500 years ago, one of the most amazing parts of these Pyramids is the accuracy of the ancient architectural designs. Even today there is still debate on how they were even able to build these structures.
We started the Imagine Cup programming contest 7 years ago. Back in 2003, we started with about 1000 students participating in this from about 11 different countries. Fast forward to 2009 – we had over 300,000 students participating from over 100 countries around the world. It has been a phenomenal journey these last 7 years. The Imagine Cup is one of its kind competition that allows students to showcase their passion and excitement for technology by turning ideas into real world change.
I personally get jazzed at the creativity, passion and desire to have a positive impact on this world that the students participating in this have in common. This eagerness to innovate leads to breakthrough ideas that will serve us well in the future, which reminds me of what I witnessed last year at the Imagine Cup finals.
Last year, there was a team from Ireland that used embedded development to create a new and efficient way to transform diesel fuel to plant-based fuel. They decided to really put their money where their mouth was and rent a truck, driving from Ireland to the Imagine Cup finals in Paris, using the fuel that they developed. As they were crossing the Chunnel to France their truck broke down. NOT due to the fuel, mind you, but to unforeseen mechanical difficulties. They were stuck and did not have the cash or insurance to fix the truck. The question they asked themselves was surely: “Will we make it to the competition on time or even at all?” Well, they ended up calling their local ADE (Academic Developer Evangelist) and were able to secure local resources to fix their truck. To cut a long story short, they finally made it to the Imagine Cup Finals, on time, and won the second prize. The passion that these students had for wanting to solve problems, wanting to demonstrate in real time what someone could do using technology and software, is a lesson in determination for all of us.