We stood in San Francisco's Creativity Museum, waiting for the announcement of the top six teams at the Imagine Cup US Finals. Twelve teams from universities across the country had qualified for the US Finals, earning a trip to California and a chance to pitch and demonstrate their software, hardware, and business ideas to a panel of judges. Coding, planning, pitching, and judging were complete on this warm California evening and all that remained was the award announcements. The top six teams would win cash prizes up to $10,000 and a chance to compete in the International Imagine Cup Finals held in Redmond, WA in July.
One by one, the finalists heard their names called and were called to the stage to accept their awards. The winners jumped with joy and hugged one another when they were called. It was a reward for months of planning and hard work.
I was able to be a part of this event for the first time this year, serving on the selection committee, advising as a team mentor, and assisting the judges during and after the presentations. I was impressed by the projects, which showed remarkable creativity; I was impressed by the presentations, which were far more polished than anything I could have done at their age; I was impressed by the judges and their commitment doing to a thorough evaluation and providing constructive feedback; and I was impressed by the team that pulled together this amazing event, involving hundreds of students, professors, mentors, judges, contractors, and volunteers.
- Using cameras and artificial intelligence to assist wheelchair-bound people;
- A drone that captures and analyzes images to detect potential forest fires;
- A HoloLens app to assist with remote, real-time training;
- Using Facial Recognition AI to reunite separated refugee families