MANILA, MAY 9, 2008
(STAR) By Rey Galupo - Move over Beijing and give way to the most prestigious technology “Olympics.”

The world’s premier student technology competition, “Imagine Cup 2008,” will hold its global finals in Paris, France on July 3-8 with more than 100,00 students from over 100 countries expected to showcase their wares and apply their imagination and creativity to technological innovations.

Now on its sixth year, the Imagine Cup has grown to be the mecca of technology competitions, inspiring students worldwide to come up with daring but innovative ideas that would not only enhance their talents but also tap the unexplored potentials of technology for human consumption.

Spearheaded by Microsoft Corp., the world’s leader in software, services and solutions, this year’s competition banners the theme, “Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment” and is focused on dealing with creative solutions to problems plaguing nature.

“The Imagine Cup is a venue where students anywhere in the world explore and push the limits of software to see how they can address the toughest problems that we are facing today,” said Tim Vergel de Dios, academic developer evangelist of Microsoft Philippines.

More than 1,500 teams from universities and high schools all over the Philippines registered to qualify for the first stage of the competition held at the local level.

Each team was paired with representatives from environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who guided the students as they worked on their projects by identifying the organizations’ needs and the kind of program that could help them perform their tasks more efficiently.

Five teams qualified for the Software Design Category in the local finals for this year’s contest: Team 3*Pi/4 and Team Tibecom from the Ateneo de Manila University; Team IMI2.0 from Colegio de San Juan de Letran; Team DLS-CSB from the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde; and Team Tala comprised of students from the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Philippine Christian University.

Ateneo’s 3*Pi/4, composed of Roderick Tan, Salvador JR Reyes, and Wilhansen Joseph Li, landed at the top for their software database program that rates products on their environment-friendliness.

The three will join other winners from other countries in the finals in France where they will present their entries to a panel of judges from the academe and the technology industry. They will also be competing for a total prize of more than $180,000 across nine categories.

“Finally, our hard work and persistence paid off,” a Reyes, an incoming Computer Science senior, said.

First runner-up, Team Tibecom, composed of Marion Joren Olmillo, Kristine Ester Pascual and Victor Patrick Tanedo, also from Ateneo de Manila University, submitted a software program dubbed GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out), which seeks to provide households with a system to track their garbage output and assist in the segregation of waste.

Second runner-up Team DLS-CSB, composed of Riela Isabel Antonio, Arjay Orcasitas, and Roberto Galang Jr., submitted a software program called “Philippine Prairie Watch,” which seeks to provide a software program to track the wildlife profile and monitor the movements of animals in a certain forest or jungle, thus aiding in efforts by environment groups to protect them.

Franchere Chan, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science student of De La Salle University, knows what it takes to be in the finals having represented the country at the 2007 Imagine Cup in Seoul, South Korea.

Chan and company did not win the competition, but they have no regrets.

“Some countries have technical advantage because they have updated software. We came into the contest armed only with the knowledge that we have a great determination to be recognized. This year, I think, Microsoft Philippines has seen everything and they will try to plug in the holes,” Chan said.

The whole endeavor, however, is not a one-way street.

Vergel de Dios admitted that one of the reasons why Microsoft is investing time and resources in the activity is because they want to look for potential talents, adding that in fact, some of the students who had joined the contest are now part of Microsoft.

“We are pushing for this because we want to show the world that our talents here are just as good as those of other countries. We are not here not only to spur new innovations but also to spot good talents,” he said.

“This competition gives us a peek at the potential of the students to become great business and technology leaders. We can also witness new innovations that can have a transformative and lasting impact on the way we live,” he added.

Now that’s a lot of terrain to cover — pushing for environmental advocacy, spotting new talents and putting their product label on top of the industry board.

It’s as if Microsoft is shooting three birds with one stone.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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