Since the Imagine Cup was launched by Microsoft in 2003 with about a thousand students taking part, it has expanded its reach and last year saw over 300,000 students registered.
Given the level of concern about the technological skills gap and the shortage of students qualified in STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), it is very encouraging to see so many students all over the world participating in this contest and its associated national level challenges.
The aims of the the competition have also expanded, giving it an emphasis on developing technology solutions for widespread global problems. The theme for the 2012 competition is:
Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.
Microsoft has made some changes to the structure of the 2012 competition. It has removed Embedded development, although students can still submit embedded-related projects to the Software Design category, and has placed increased focus on the Game Design competition, which now has two tracks: Game Design: Phone and Game Design: Xbox/Windows. The Digital Media competition has been removed in order to keep the focus of Imagine Cup on its "developing for a better world" theme.
As well as giving students a way to helping others, the Imagine Cup offers benefits to participants. Students can download a free copy of Visual Studio 2010 through the Microsoft DreamSpark website
which offers a wide range of free developer tools and free online training from Pluralsight.
One motivation for entering the Imagine Cup is the prospect of a career as a developer. For students who want a job in the software industry Microsoft has established a Students to Business
Program, whereby Microsoft and its partners offer career opportunities and recruit graduates.
A new initiative, the Imagine Cup Grants
, a 3-year program announced at the 2011 Imagine Cup Finals, has just started to accept applications. All the 2011 Worldwide finalist teams are eligible to apply for grants to do further work on the same projects. Awards worth between $75,000 and $100,000 depending in the project scope will be granted to between two to five teams. Applications must be submitted by: November 11.
Since the Imagine Cup began student teams have come up with inventive and innovative solutions, many of which are in use today. Participation in this competition. really does give students an opportunity to make a difference to both their own and other people's lives.
Imagine Cup 2012
Imagine Cup 2011
Imagine Cup 2011 Winners
Can we fill the good jobs of the future?
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