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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Imagine Cup 2013: Start Thinking Now

Well, it is still summer, but we are now in August, which is when students and teachers start thinking about heading back to school. While we are on the subject of school, if you are looking for something to do with your computer science class this year, look no further than the Imagine Cup.

The Imagine Cup is a software competition for students that Microsoft holds every year. Each year has a theme based on the UN Millennium goals. Depending on the sector of the competition you are a part of, you have to design a piece of software that reflects the theme.

There are a few sections of the Imagine Cup, but the most popular are Software Design and Game Design. In Software Design, students have to come up with a solution to a problem (based on the UN Millennium Goals) using hardware and Microsoft software. The team who comes up with the best solution to the team's problem wins. In game design, students design a game (based on the UN Millennium Goals) for either Windows Phone or Xbox which reflects the year's theme.

Participation in the competition can be done by both high school students and college students.

The competition (at least, for the competitions mentioned above) consists of 4 rounds. In round 1, the team submits a plan, which includes a storyboard and a description. A team can also submit an alpha or beta build, but it is optional for this round. All entries which survive round 1 move on to round 2. In round 2, teams need to submit a working prototype, an updated project plan, and a video describing the whole thing. If you survive round 2, things get better.

Round 3 is the US finals (or if you don't live in the United States, your country's finals). Here, you and your team get flown out to Redmond for a visit to Microsoft's headquarters where, incidentally, the US Finals are held. As a bonus, anyone who makes it this far in the competition gets a free opportunity to interview for a Microsoft internship or, if you are a senior in college, a full-time job at Microsoft. This also the round when your project gets voted on by millions of people on Facebook to determine the People's Choice. The first place winners of the Software Design competition move on to round 4, the last round of the competition. The first place winners of the Game Design competition are recognized, but do not get to move on to round 4 because every country participating in the Imagine Cup has a Software Design competition, but not every country has a Game Design competition.

Round 4 is the World Finals. Here, the winners of the Software Design competitions from all over gather to see which one is the best in the world. Word has it that the world finals are going to be held in Russia in 2013.

So, I hope I've gotten your interest. While the theme for the 2013 competition has not been revealed yet, you can preregister. For more information on the Imagine Cup competion, please see For everything you need for the competition, students can get any software you need via Dreamspark.

If you have any thoughts or comments of your own about the Imagine Cup or if you are thinking of entering the 2013 competion, feel free to share your thoughts and comments via the comment box below or e-mail me at can also find me on twitter (twitter username is @rctechgeek). Feel free to subscribe to my rss feed too. I am now on Tumblr now as well (link to Tumblr is, so please follow me on Tumblr too.

If you're feeling thirsty while using the computer or can't quite stay awake while using one, drink  (or give someone you care about) some tasty Mystic Monk Coffee (use this link or click on the picture below to access the store and purchase). Trust me, it's good coffee (in most instances, much better than Starbucks coffee) and you won't regret buying some (just keep it away from your computer keyboard or laptop/tablet). For the summer, they are also offering Iced Coffee as well. If you like tea more than coffee, they also offer tea. Using the link (or picture below) to buy the coffee (or tea) helps the monks out and helps me with college expenses as well.

Feel free to try out my apps for Windows Phone: Mobile Media Manager, a media player app I made which has some features which (I feel) are missing from the system Zune player, and BSA Eagle Tracker, an app that boy scouts can use to track their progress to Eagle Scout (when the scout handbook isn't always handy). The update for the paid version of Mobile Media Manager is out, but my last submission update for the free version in Microsoft Apphub certification failed, so release of the update to the free version will be a few days (< 7). BSA Eagle Tracker is also getting a bug fix for an obscure bug I noticed recently.

BSA Eagle Tracker download:
Mobile Media Manager (paid version) download:
Mobile Media Manager (free version) download:

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