Microsoft hosts ‘Imagine Cup’ event at Tuskegee


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (March 14, 2011) — Microsoft hosted a “Realizing Your Dreams: Imagine Cup” event at Tuskegee University on March 7. This is the first year Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been involved in the technology and engineering initiative.


Two hundred high school students from the Macon County School District attended the event where they saw presentations from four of the 15 Imagine Cup teams that Tuskegee University is fielding from its Ethics in Engineering course. The curriculum for this course was designed around the Imagine Cup, a worldwide competition in which students develop projects, products and applications to create solutions for global good.


Donna Woodall, community outreach manager for Microsoft, said the “Realizing Your Dreams: Imagine Cup” event was designed as a way to get students involved in the connection between people, information and systems. 


“It’s encouraging to see Historically Black Colleges and Universities get involved in the Imagine Cup competition for the first time this year,” Woodall said. “The Imagine Cup is an ideas marketplace, where students tackle real world problems. By engaging further with minority youth and exposing them to Microsoft’s student programs, including the Imagine Cup, it is our hope that students will become excited about technology and pursue an education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. At the end of the day, if we’ve inspired any of the 200 high school students from Macon County School District to explore a career in technology, then our country’s future is better for it.”


The Imagine Cup, which attracts more than 300,000 students worldwide, empowers them to use technology, innovation and creativity to help solve some of the world’s most challenging social issues outlined in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. From designing mobile healthcare applications to enabling access to quality education for all children and creating games that teach disease prevention, young social innovators are using technology to make a difference in the lives of people all over the world. Contests are conducted in several categories including: software design, game design and Web design.


 “According to the National Science Foundation, 26 percent of blacks earned science and engineering bachelor's degrees from HBCUs in 2000, while only 20 percent earned them from HBCUs in 2008,” said Tara Walker, academic developer evangelist for Microsoft. “Hopefully, the representation of HBCUs in Imagine Cup 2011 will result in an increase in more students pursuing science and engineering degrees. Microsoft is committed to attracting talented women and minorities to the company and high-tech industry at-large and the Imagine Cup is a great way to build excitement about a career in computer science and technology.”

Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College and Morehouse College have also fielded teams for the Imagine Cup. Team members will present their Imagine Cup solutions or projects on March 23 in Atlanta for the U.S. National Competition.  Also on this day, and at the request of the White House
Initiative on HBCUs, Microsoft will conduct a meeting for HBCU presidents and chief information officers about Microsoft programs centered on college students.

Howard University and Johnson C. Smith University are among the other HBCUs participating in the Imagine Cup 2011.

Ten finalists in the Imagine Cup competition will go the U.S. finals – expenses paid by Microsoft. Winners from the U.S. competition will be sent to the world championship.


At each stage of the competition, the student teams are allowed to tweak their work, based on what they learned in the process, and are given access to additional resources.


In addition to competing for a monetary prize that can be used to further their research or used in other ways, the students get to meet people in the industry, and many have been hired or approached by venture capitalists interested in funding their projects.


Microsoft’s push to bring HBCUs into the competition is also in conjunction with a White House effort to get more black students, especially HBCU students, into STEM programs.



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