IT students compete in Microsoft Imagine Cup National Finals
IT students to compete in Microsoft Imagine Cup National Finals
A team of four Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Information Technology students will compete at the prestigious Microsoft Imagine Cup New Zealand finals this weekend in Auckland, where they will present their app ‘AquaFORCE’ to a judging panel, ‘Dragons Den’ style.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s most prestigious student technology competition, bringing together student innovators from all over the world. The presentations will take place at Auckland University this Sunday, 24 March and the awards evening will be held the following night on Monday, 25 March at Q Theatre.
The ‘AquaFORCE’ app has been designed for high-end fish tanks allowing the computer in the tank to communicate with the app via a smart phone. The app allows the user to monitor and control the fish tank from anywhere in the world as long as there is internet access.
“Our project is a smartphone application for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone that allows you to monitor and control the environment of your aquarium,” says AquaFORCE Project Manager and third year IT student, Carl Crawford.
“The application connects to the aquarium controller, monitoring temperature levels and allowing for adjustments to be made to the environmental conditions. The unique selling point is that you can do this from anywhere in the world, which provides the user with significant flexibility.”
The competition will involve a seven to ten minute presentation in front of a judging panel of industry experts, followed by a ten minute Q and A session.
“We are pretty excited to be selected for the final rounds of the competition. It validates all the hard work we have put in over the last eight months. Fingers crossed, we hope to get a place in the top three. We also look forward to meeting our fellow competitors and networking with prospective employers,” says Carl.
Professor at the School of Information Technology, Dr. Samuel Mann, says entering these competitions provides students with the opportunity to get some real industry experience.
“Many of our students will be put in this very position in the real world; having to pitch their idea to an employer, potential client or financial backer. The more experience they have presenting in front of a professional audience and receiving constructive criticism, the more confident they will be when they enter the workforce,” says Dr. Mann.
“We know the students have the technical smarts, but it’s important they know how to solve real business problems and have an understanding about what the business need is.”
Imagine Cup received 549 proposals from student teams across the country. In December 2012, they invited the top 100 teams for Skype interviews out of which, 25 national finalist teams were selected. These teams are currently working to build functional prototypes of their software solutions. The winning team will win a trip to represent New Zealand at the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, this July.
“New Zealand teams have done quite well during the past four years, normally placing in the top ten. Hopefully, we will be able to continue this as a business, after the project has finished,” Carl says.
The AquaFORCE team consists of Fiorenzo Rutschmann (iOS Developer), Carl Crawford (Project Manager and Web Developer), Daniel Hampton (Development of the Android Version, Lead Programmer and Conceptualiser) and David Jackson (Windows Phone Developer).
New Zealand first prize winners will receive NZD$6000 and second prize winners, NZD$3000.