Microsoft announces UK Imagine Cup winners

Find out which university won the fourth annual Imagine Cup Software Design Challenge

It's a hoary old cliché for the older generation to be worried about its youth, but in terms of the IT industry the future looks like it could be in safe hands. Microsoft has just announced the UK winners of its fourth annual Imagine Cup Software Design Challenge, who proved to be the best of a very bright bunch.


The Imagine Cup is designed to provide an outlet for students to explore technological and artistic interests outside the classroom. More than 38,000 students from over 140 countries have registered to compete in the six categories that comprise this year's competition: Software Design, Algorithm, Information Technology (IT), Short Film, Interface Design and Project Hoshimi Programming Battle.


The theme for the UK leg of the competition was 'enabling us to live healthier lives' and received unprecedented interest, both in the UK and abroad. All of the entries were built using Microsoft technology and .net web services. The top 10 entries showcased at the UK final included a system to help medical staff reduce the spread of healthcare acquired infections and a system to allow medical staff to administer prescriptions.


After much deliberation, the judging panel - comprised of academics and experts from the technology and business world, including Microsoft, BT, Capgemini and The Council of Professors and Heads of Computing Science - announced the winner as Team Three Pair.


The team consists of Andy Sterland, Tom Randall and James Lissiak, all students of the University of Hull , whose winning application was called Digital Recovery Environment. The project aimed to reduce the emotional trauma caused through periods of memory loss suffered by critically ill patients in intensive care units, with personal messages, news and media delivered to the bedside.


As winners, Team Three Pair received a project development package, including an Xbox 360 pack for each participant and £1,500 for the academic mentor to fund teaching resources. They will now travel to Delhi to compete against other countries in the Imagine Cup for international recognition as the finest student developers in the world.


Mark Quirk, head of technology at Microsoft's Developer and Platform Group, explains what the competition means to the company. "The great thing is seeing the creativity and imagination and passion that is inside people to deliver solutions and be innovative.


“This takes guts; you have a rare breed of people. These ideas can all fly and they are all very impressive. There's no doubt that the [quality] bar gets raised [every year] and this year there have been some interesting innovations. The tangible things we get are the association [with the new breed of developers] and we want to show that we support the innovation that is coming through; to provide the spark and see the ideas through to completion."


Quirk reveals that his biggest challenge in developing the project has been narrowing down the entries to a winning idea. He says, "Ultimately you have to look as to whether the core idea is something that you feel some connection with - that is, can you do something with the idea, is it viable? [With this year's entries] it has been a big challenge as the ideas are fabulous, so how do you pick the right one?"

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