Tech Talent Tournament

As a high profile showcase for Jordan’s brightest young minds, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup is hard to beat.

By Zeid Nasser

The Imagine Cup is Microsoft’s global technology competition for students between the ages of 16 and 24. Since it began in 2003, a significant number of Arab teams have made their mark at the closely-fought event.

Three Jordanian teams made it to the pan Arab semi-finals of this year’s tournament, which was held in Bahrain between May 31 and June 2. They were Jordan’s national champions in the categories of Games, Innovation, and Global Citizenship. They were competing against national champions from 11 other Arab countries. The winners will go on to compete in the finals, slated to take place in Seattle later in the year.

Of the three Jordanian teams at the pan Arab competition, two came in the top three in their chosen categories. Clinching second place in the Innovation category was the University of Jordan’s WeLink team, which produced a glove for people with hearing disabilities that converts sounds into vibrations.

Securing third place in the Global Citizenship category was the Captiosus team from the Jubilee School. The year eleven students created a Windows Phone application that serves as a personal assistant for the vision-impaired.

The CodeFathers team, which was made up of fourth year IT students from the Middle East University, failed to win in the Games category. But even so, they still brought a unique and well presented creation to the competition. Wadro is a 2 dimensional multi-level adventure game which aims to raise awareness of water conservation. It features a drop of water which goes on a journey through a maze of pipes, changing from liquid to solid to gas state.

All the teams showed bags of energy and enthusiasm, a fact which wasn’t lost on John Scott Tynes, Student Developer Evangelism Program Lead at Microsoft who runs the Imagine Cup worldwide. “All of you here are winners,” he told the competitors. “Your participation in the Imagine Cup will reflect positively on your professional life and your chances in progress in the fields of information technology. This is the ultimate goal of educational programs and events at Microsoft.”

It’s important to note the competitors’ creations were developed for various platforms, not just for Windows, and utilized various non-Microsoft programming tools. Hana Habayeb, the Open Source Strategy Lead at Microsoft Middle East and Africa said: “Regardless of the technology that students, startups, or enterprises prefer to use, Microsoft wants to be there for them. We have a legacy of being the platform and productivity company, therefore we want to grow the pie for everyone in this Mobile First Cloud First world.”