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Imagine Cup US 2010 Finals – Day Two

Sunday morning was the more relaxed day of the competition. No one was presenting to any judges on Sunday. Everyone seemed a bit relaxed. Sure they had a big announcement coming later that day, but it was time to rest.

The day consisted of the competitors going around the D.C. Office attending sessions about new Microsoft technologies. They had sessions about the KIN, NUI, .Net, Windows Phone, and plenty more. I was able to sit in on the NUI/Natal session, which was very informative and interesting.

Between sessions, I was able to catch up with Team AwesomeSauce, a game design team, and talk with them about their project:

 

After that, I sat in on the Microsoft Recruiting session, to learn a bit about what it’s like to interview for a technical position at Microsoft. I’m not going to go into details about that session now, but I will cover the important notes in a later blog post.

Before long, 4:20PM rolled around. I made my way to the room where the finalists would be announced, and got ready to tweet the results. During the time before the announcement, I chatted with Mark Hindsbo, General Manager of Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism for Microsoft USA, about the event. He was excited to see so many young people passionate about computer science and innovation. He felt proud to be a part of the event. Before I knew it, the time was 4:30 and the announcement had to begin.

The announcement started of with Jessica Anderson, the business manager for Microsoft Student Insiders, talking about the trip to the Newseum for the finals. Once that was done, the announced that special guest James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic, would be joining us for the finals at the Newseum.

Once the logistics was out of the way, it was time to announce who was going to be competing on Monday. Mark Hindsbo took center stage, announcing the top 4 SDI and GDI teams:

Software Design Teams

  • Extraplaid, Utah State University
  • MangoBunnies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, DePauw University
  • Mobilife, University of California, Davis
  • Team Blob, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Game Teams

  • Coffee Powered Altruism, Yale University
  • Ifrit Salsa, University of Houston
  • LeveL 13, University of Houston
  • To Be Announced, Central Piedmont Community College

After this, each team was debriefed, and the rest of us made our way back to the hotel for some rest before another busy day.

Imagine Cup US 2010 Finals – Live Blog

Join us live on April 26th as we cover the Imagine Cup 2010 US Finals at the Newseum in Washtington D.C.. We’ll have Alfred Thompson from Microsoft, Gen from Geninc.tv, and Erin “Ed” Donahue, mentor of finalist team MangoBunnies. Set a reminder for yourself below.

Join us Monday, April 26th, for a Live Blog covering the final 8 presentations in the US Imagine Cup Finals. Set a reminder below.

Imagine Cup US 2010 Finals – Day One

The first day here at the Imagine Cup was pretty hectic, with competitors scrambling to make sure their presentations were ready for the judges. Each team was given a 50 minute block of time with a panel of judges, where they would demo their project, pitch their business plan, and field questions from the judges. After that, they were released from their presentation rooms to talk with the camera crews from Microsoft Press. I was lucky enough to grab a few minutes with some of the teams for a filmed interview.

Team Fortran and C:

Team Extraplaid:

Team Team Name Not Found:

Team Darkwing Duck:

After the morning presentations were over, the teams split off to go on different tours and activities. I joined quite a few people on the Segway tour around Washington, D.C.. Needless to say, the tour was phenomenal. After our three hour Segway tour, we made our way over to the ESPN Zone for dinner and games with the rest of the competitors.
 
So far the weekend has been running great, and there is still so much more to see.
 
I also wanted to remind people to follow #ICUS10 on Twitter, and keep an eye out for our Live Blog, Monday Morning at 9:00 AM, where Alfred Thompson, Gen from GenInc.tv, and myself will be covering the presentations from the top 4 teams in each category.

Imagine Cup US 2010 Finals – Anthony Salcito Interview

During the first day of the US Imagine Cup Finals, I had the pleasure to speak with Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s Vice President of Worldwide Education. We talked about the need for new approaches to technology in education, and then spoke for a while about what the Imagine Cup means for Microsoft and for the community. I filmed our conversation about the Imagine Cup, which you can watch below. A very special thanks to Austin Stewart, from Microsoft’s PR team, who helped get me this great opportunity to meet Mr. Salcito.

More tomorrow morning.

Imagine Cup 2010 US Finals

This weekend I have the great opportunity to be at the Imagine Cup 2010 US Finals in Washington DC. Throughout the weekend, I will be covering the events, interviewing team members, and bringing a clearer picture of just what the Imagine Cup is back to my readers. I’ll have blog posts and videos surrounding each event up here throughout the weekend. And if you’re on Twitter, follow #ICUS10 to see any and all tweets related to the finals this weekend.

And be sure to tune into our live blog on Monday, where Alfred Thompson, myself, and possibly Ashley Myers will be covering the Imagine Cup Community Showcase this Monday, live, as the event occurs.

Microsoft Student Insider Kick-Off: Scott Hanselman

During my time at the Redmond campus, I was fortunate enough to meet with Scott Hanselman, Principal Program Manger Lead for Microsoft’s Developer Division. He also runs a very successful blog and podcast. Mr. Hanselman’s position at Microsoft requires him to travel a lot. This, combined with his living in Oregon, makes it difficult to snag a meeting with him. But we were lucky enough to meet with Mr. Hanselman for an hour in Building 5.

We started off our time with Mr. Hanselman by introducing ourselves. He then lectured us on the history of Bulletin Board Systems, relating it to a recent interview he had done on his podcasts. He then talked about his blog, and how useful social media is.

And then we got to the new technology. Mr. Hanselman first showed us Boot to VHD, a new feature in WIndows 7 that allows us to take the VHDs created in Virtual PC 2007, Hyper-V, and other parts of the virtualization platform, and boot our machine to this virtual OS. This allows the virtual hard disk to use hardware rather than the emulated environment when running. This follows the idea of “less virtual, more machine”.

The next demos Mr. Hanselman showed us struck me as very cool. He decided to demonstrate two new features of .Net 4.0: PLINQ and MEF. Now when I heard him say PLINQ, I had to do a double take. My understanding was PLINQ had been around for at least a year. But I was happily surprised to find that PLINQ (Parallel Language Integrated Query) was finally shipping as a part of the .Net Framework. This made me happy. Finally I could add support for multi-core processors with very little hassle. Simply invoke a query with the .AsParrallel() extension method, and you’ve got yourself a query working across multiple cores. There are other features in PLINQ, and I urge you to check out the Parallel Programming With .Net blog for more info.

The final demo Mr. Hanselman showed us was MEF. MEF stands for the Managed Extensibility Framework. Imagine the following situation: You are an enterprise developer working for a company that keeps inventory of different kinds of cars. Each car has similar qualities, defined in an interface, while being unique in itself. Your boss approaches you, requiring a new brand be added to the application used for keeping inventory. Due to the lack of a quality plugin system, this task would be very tedious and an all around pain in the neck. What MEF allows you to do, is simply create your new class, implementing this interface, export it through a new DLL, and the inventory application will do a “composition”, loading any and all classes that use the interface declared in the core of the API. I was extremely excited when Mr. Hanselman showed us this new feature. I’ve always loved the idea of extensibility, but hated using slow Reflection based techniques for dynamically loading classes. I highly recommend you take a look at MEF over on CodePlex. It’s a very cool framework and could make great leaps in improving application development productivity.

After that demo, we had to go our separate ways again. Like I said, Mr. Hanselman is a very busy man, and I was very grateful to have met with him. I highly suggest your follow him on Twitter or read his blog, as he frequently provides interesting links related to social media and new technology.