Over on Microsoft’s Redmond campus today, teams from schools around the country gathered for the U.S. finals of the company’s Imagine Cup student technology competition.
Finalists in the marquee software design category included a University of Washington team using Kinect sensor to teach math, a Winona State University (Minn.) team developing a smart sleeping pad to prevent SIDS, and a University of Arkansas at Little Rock team that made an online collaboration tool for physicians.
The winner of the category was just announced this afternoon: Arizona State University took the top software design prize for its “Flash Food” project that connects restaurants that have extra food at the end of the day with people in the community who need the food, using an online service, smartphone apps and large-scale group text messaging.
Demonstrating the project at Microsoft earlier today, members of the Arizona team said they were already forming a non-profit to pursue the venture, regardless of the outcome. So in that way, their victory is just a bonus.
With the win, they’ll be going to Australia to compete in the worldwide Imagine Cup finals this summer.
The student projects this year were heavy on cloud computing and mobile technologies, mirroring trends in the industry, said Mark Hindsbo, Microsoft’s vice president of developer and platform evangelism. In addition, Imagine Cup teams have become more multidisciplinary, with graphic artists, medical students and others joining software engineers to create more well-rounded teams.
Imagine Cup also includes a People’s Choice Award. Public voting on Facebook runs through May 19.