Students From Across America Arrive at U.S. Imagine Cup Finals

Bleary after their red-eye flight from California to Washington D.C., the members of Team Darkwing Duck were still amped to have arrived on the day before the U.S. Imagine Cup finals were set to begin. Sitting in the lobby of the Embassy Suites while waiting for their rooms, Zachary McIntosh and Paul Purtell had arrived in at 5 a.m. They promptly hit the ground running and explored as much of the capital as they could. By 4 in the afternoon, though, they just wanted to catch a little rest.

Slouched down in lobby chairs, the pair from Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., was running on empty. Until they were asked about the project they would be presenting at the Imagine Cup, that is.

“Ever hear of the Pacific Garbage Patch?” McIntosh asked after popping to his feet. He then launched into a description of their project, a video game that draws attention to ocean pollution. “It started with seeing all the trash on the beach,” he explained. “It turns out that what you see barely scratches the surface.”

Paul Purtell and Zachary McIntosh of Huntington Beach, Calif., head to their hotel room in Washington D.C. Friday for some rest before the U.S. Imagine Cup finals start.  April 23, 2010.
Paul Purtell and Zachary McIntosh of Huntington Beach, Calif., head to their hotel room in Washington D.C. Friday for some rest before the U.S. Imagine Cup finals start. April 23, 2010.

The students are two of about 80 arriving today for the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals, a worldwide student technology competition sponsored by Microsoft. More than 14,000 students registered for this year’s U.S. competition, and the students shuffling into the Embassy Suites had been selected to compete in categories like software and game design. The participants were tasked to use technology to make a difference in the lives of people in their local communities and around the world, addressing issues in education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability.

“As excited as we are to have these students come to the Imagine Cup, we’re more excited to have them show their work,” said Jodie Ellias, Microsoft’s director of Academic Developer Marketing for the U.S. Imagine Cup. “On Monday, (when the winners are announced) more than 500 people from government, businesses, and high schools will come to see what the best and brightest students are doing to solve the world’s most challenging problems.”

Two member of team Extraplaid, from Utah State University, also strolled in after a long day of travel. One member, Yiding Han, had helped out with last year’s Extraplaid team, but he was excited to actually be here in person and present his team’s project, a social-networking application that connects entrepreneurs to investors in the micro-banking industry. “It’s cool to be able to design something and show it to the world,” Han said.

Meanwhile, Team Darkwing finally got to their hotel rooms. They were eager for the competition to get underway, the two said as they wheeled their luggage away. After a little rest.

“After an hour of sleep, we’ll be good,” Purtell said.

Posted by Lukas Velush
Editor, Microsoft News Center