Tips from the 2014 Imagine Cup judges: Follow your vision, be enthusiastic, have fun!

The judges for this year’s Imagine Cup, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, are a notable group of innovators, entrepreneurs, social advocates and most importantly, dreamers, who share one key characteristic: an insatiable passion for technology.

They have the difficult task of determining the winners from the 34 teams descending on Seattle from around the world for the 12th annual Imagine Cup World Finals July 29 – Aug. 2.

Teams will compete in three categories: World Citizenship, Games and Innovation. Here, we bring you, straight from three of our distinguished judges, a how-to for success.

Listen up, finalists!

judge_3No. 1 quality you’re looking for?

Innovation and fresh thinking in design and approach, as well as a solid underlying mechanic that supports that forward thinking.

Advice to Imagine Cup finalists?

Follow your teams’ own vision. Look inside to build upon your strengths, interests and skills, and use those collaboratively. Keep it simple.

–Stephanie Barish is founder of IndieCade, an international festival of independent games.

 

Mary-Jo FoleyNo. 1 quality you’re looking for?

Usefulness. It’s great to be innovative, but I’m not a big fan of innovation for innovation’s sake. I want to see something different enough to be innovative, but still applied enough to be useful.

Advice to Imagine Cup finalists?

Be enthusiastic. Have an elevator pitch. Be open to constructive criticism.

Mary Jo Foley is editor of ZDNet’s “All About Microsoft” blog.

 

fullertonNo. 1 quality you’re looking for?

Heart. By which I mean a real expression of ideas and emotion. The wonderful thing about heart is that any size or scope of project can have it.

Advice to Imagine Cup finalists?

Be prepared. Practice your pitch and practice speaking slowly and clearly but passionately. Have fun. Be in the moment and meet as many people as you can.

Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an associate professor and chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she directs the Game Innovation Lab. 

Fullerton, Foley, Barish and the other Imagine Cup judges will be busy listening to finalists’ presentations, watching their demos and asking the tough questions during sessions next week on the University of Washington and Microsoft campuses.

Winners will be announced August 1 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The first-place teams in the Innovation, Games and World Citizenship categories will then face Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Code.org Founder Hadi Partovi and Reddit.com General Manager Erik Martin for a final round of questions, live.

The winning team will take home the Imagine Cup and get to meet Microsoft Founder and Technology Advisor Bill Gates. Tune into the live stream to see who will be crowned the victor.

Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff