What I Saw at Imagine Cup Day 2014

Carrie Francey (Microsoft)

Saturday, August 4, 2014 was a perfect Seattle summer day. The annual Seafair festivities were happening all over the city, on the lakes, and in the air. This year, the vibes were even livelier with the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals happening in Seattle.

The highlight of my weekend was taking my daughters to Imagine Cup Day, held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) by Lake Union. It was a fantastic day full of hands-on learning opportunities and family-oriented entertainment. We had a chance to see all the Imagine Cup finalist teams showcase their projects and talk to the team members directly. The enthusiasm and dedication of these young technologists are contagious.

One of the most fun (and super marketable) project was by Team Butterfly from Bahrain. The two-woman team, Alaa Abdulraheem and Marwa Buhaila, gave us a quick run-through of their creation: a one-of-a-kind Nail Polish Mixer. It is the combination of a patented, Wi-Fi enabled device and a universal Windows app that delivers custom nail polish on-demand in 50 seconds. Your very own nail color, in 50 seconds! Add some glitter or coordinate with your hair or outfits, this combination of hardware and software is both fun and practical. Team Butterfly won 3rd place in the innovation category. I can’t wait to see their invention at day spas and in the cosmetic product aisles someday soon.

My daughter, a budding scientist, was especially excited about a project called Molecular Maker, by Team CodeBlue from India. With this app, students and researchers can view and display a 2D or 3D graphical representation of the element or molecule entered by them. It was built to work hand-in-hand with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which makes it so much easier to work on projects for research documentation, school assignments, or lecture presentations. You can even zoom in or rotate the model! The app provides details about a large number of molecules, or users can add their own molecules to the database. It makes complex chemistry tasks easy to understand and show.

Speaking of documentation and presentation, another great app we saw was by Team iGeek from China: Educational Toolkit for Office. This one is especially useful for developers who need a better way to show their codes or discuss them during a meeting. It adds dynamic features familiar from development environments to PowerPoint including: syntax highlighting, code block expand/collapse, click-jump, and so much more.

While the showcases were happening inside the museum, there were hands-on science experiments, concerts, and cool treats for everyone to enjoy. Blitz the Seahawk made an appearance, too. All in all, it was a wonderful day of learning and interactive fun. Thanks to the Microsoft Imagine Cup team, Avanade, and MOHAI for making the day possible.

I invite you to check out all the 2014 winning teams’ projects on Imagine Cup’s website. Feeling inspired? What would you build? You could be at Imagine Cup 2015. Find out how here. Maybe I’ll be visiting your project showcase next year.