On the eve of Microsoft's annual Tech*Ed 2004 conference, the company announced the top contenders in two competitions that recognize technological innovations created by the student developer and IT professional community. At a judging exhibition held today at the University of California at San Diego, three U.S. finalists for the Imagine Cup 2004 software design invitational were chosen, including the first-place team from the University of California at Los Angeles, which will head to the worldwide finals in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in July. In addition, Microsoft recognized winners of the Windows Server 2003 Challenge, a worldwide contest designed to recognize customers that cut costs and improved efficiencies in their business by building innovative solutions with Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server System.
The Imagine Cup, now in its second year, is a programming competition designed to provide an outlet for students to explore technological and artistic interests outside the classroom. More than 10,000 students from over 90 countries competed in the four Imagine Cup 2004 invitationals, including software design, rendering, algorithm and short film. Within the United States 650 students from more than 75 top research and technical universities competed in the software design invitational.
Twenty-eight students representing nine winning teams from regional competitions competed in today's exhibition. The student teams were asked to submit an application that demonstrated the theme of imagining a world where smart technology makes everyday life easier. The top three finalists are these:
First-place winner: Chris To, William So, Tree Li and Alex Chang of the University of California at Los Angeles developed Project PICKS, a "digital concierge" that runs on mobile devices and is designed to help users answer lifestyle questions, such as where to eat. Project PICKS was built on the .NET Compact Framework with Visual Studio .NET 2003 and leverages the power of Web services and Microsoft MapPoint Location Services. Team UCLA received the U.S. National Champion title, a cash reward of US$8,000 to be shared equally, and a trip to the worldwide finals in Sao Paulo.
Second-place winner: Mark Woods, Taylor Peterson, Stuart Lim and David Smith of Washington University created ALIVE: Adaptive Learning and Interactive Virtual Education, an application to sophisticate educational techniques for educators and students. Professors can use a curriculum design editor to create tests, among other learning tools, that students can access. Team Washington University received a cash reward of US$4,000.
Third-place winner: Two teams tied for third place. Dave Kaplan of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed ALADIN (An Ldap ADministration Interface with .NET) to create a fast and easy way to browse and administer Ldap and Active Directory servers. Using Microsoft Speech Server, ALADIN can also integrate with Andover building automation software to open doors on voice command. Viswanathan Ramachandran, Sriam Thaiyar, Srinivas Vadrevu and Swami Venkataramani of Arizona State University created Holding Hands, a system designed to assist the physically disabled, such as the blind, in becoming more independent in their daily lives. Using radio frequency identification technology (RFID), a mobile device with Holding Hands can help individuals learn more about their surroundings. Both teams received a cash reward of US$2,000.