Got an old problem? Put a young mind to it. Microsoft’s Imagine Cup has announced its 2009 winners, with Oregon’s MultiPoint Web edging out the other 14 U.S. finalists in a competition with the lofty aim of tackling United Nations Millennium Development Goals: like ending poverty and hunger, curbing HIV and AIDS, and improving maternal health.
The winners: three brothers–Jimmy, Mark and Luke Dickinson, respectively attending Georgia State University, Portland Community College, and Tigard High School–took top honors for creating a Web-based education application that allows several students to use the same computer simultaneously. The low-cost program, furthering the Millennium Goal of universal education, could stretch cash-strapped schools’ technology budgets.
Built on existing education plans, the program can be constantly updated with new lessons and activities that can be shared around the world in multiple languages with little or no hardware or software investment. Further, it has the potential to stretch existing hardware resources several times over, benefiting developing nations where students are many and resources are few.
The first all-female team to reach the U.S. finals, Team MangoBunnies of Indiana, was named first runner-up for their development of CAMRA, a computer-assisted medication regimen adherence program that keeps HIV and AIDS patients mindful of their medication timing via their mobile devices. Second runner-up went to Team Special Child from the University of Arkansas Little Rock for its application streamlining the adoption process.
The People’s Choice award went to Aurora Borealis from the University of Alabama Birmingham for its mobile health-care infrastructure serving expectant mothers and children in rural parts of the world. Other finalists’ entries ranged from applications improving coordination of search and rescue to a tool for monitoring aid shipments from donor countries all the way to delivery.
Now in its seventh year, the Imagine Cup encourages students to find innovative ways to apply technology to real-world problems. Nearly 300,000 students from more than 100 countries competed in this year’s worldwide competition. MultiPoint Web will head to Cairo in July to put its program up against more than a hundred of the most creative technology applications developed by students from around the globe.