While some of you may have been following the NHL Stanley Cup competition, there’s another “cup” that we’ve had our eyes on…the Imagine Cup.

Presented by Microsoft, the Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition where students, ages 16 and older, use their imagination and passion to create technology solutions that address the world’s toughest social problems. This year’s competition builds on the trends that have been most popular with students in the past 10 years – social impact and gaming

The yearlong competition culminates in a Worldwide Finals event in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 8-11.


Over the past ten years, more than 1.65 million students from more than 190 countries have participated in the competition, giving “whip-smart creatives” from all over the world an extraordinary opportunity to share ideas, have fun, and be present when the “next big thing is unveiled”.

Women’s participation in the Imagine Cup grew to 20% of participants in 2012. In an effort to see that percentage continue to increase, Microsoft, in partnership with U.N. Women, established the Women’s Empowerment Award. This award will be presented to two student teams, of any gender, that create projects that best address issues impacting women globally.

Recently, Microsoft announced the 86 teams that will continue through to the Imagine Cup finals, meet some of this year’s young women vying for the $300,000 grand prize:

Hope Bretischer (University of Chicago)
Bretischer is a team member of Project Sam. The team developed a mobile application that streamlines a health clinic’s inventory and provides real-time updates to suppliers via text, in the absence of computers or internet.

Mira Chen (Rice University)
Chen is one of three computer engineers on team SwagFace, who created FaceFun: an innovative facial recognition game for Windows Phone 8, where players mimic amusing, famous and funny faces using their smartphone and win points.

Michelle Enfinger (University of Central Arkansas)
Enfinger and her team Bears Unlimited, created the Bear Claw System, which uses a motion glove and smartphone to assist physical and occupational therapy patients.

Parbati Sangel (Winona State University)
Sangel’s team, The Miracle Workers, designed a baby monitor application that tracks respiration, heartbeat and body movement of an infant. In case of an emergency, the application sends an alert to parents on their smartphone. Parents are also able to check the live streaming of baby’s vital signs in on their phone.

Teresa Scaife (University of Arkansas)
Scaife’s team, Verbatim Signers, developed the Word of Hand Project using X-Box Kinect to interpret American Sign Language. The user simply signs in front of the Kinect, and the application translates it into both written and spoken text.

Lauren Truong (University of Houston) Teresa Scaife (University of Arkansas)
Team Lost Spectrum created Chroma Tales: a fast-paced 2D action game for Windows Phone 8, where each level lasts approximately five seconds. Each player’s mission is to restore color to the world.