Yesterday, I competed with my team-mate, Edd Slipszenko at the Microsoft Imagine Cup UK final (hosted at Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading). The day itself was a lot of fun and I got to meet and talk to a lot of cool people as well as play some Kinect, Portal 2 and Halo: ODST.
The road to the Imagine Cup final was an interesting one. Edd suggested that we should enter and we eventually wrote the entry for the first round – a proposal for an application to help optimize the use of farm land in the third world. At a loss for a better name, we called it OptiFarm. We also started writing code for the application. We decided to use C# and Windows Presentation Foundation but were lacking experience in these areas. We knew it would be a challenge – but were definitely up for one.
To our surprise, we made it through to round 2: the video presentation round. For this round we had to make a video talking about our project – hopefully with a demo of what we had working so far. At the time we hand almost no actual code to show. All we had were a few classes for storing the data and the start of the internal database. No user interface and no actual results from the application. Despite this, we still managed to create a nice video talking about OptiFarm – although this was rather last minute with the file still uploading to the server when the deadline passed.
With this video we made it through to the UK final ad the real work could begin – except we let it wait and decided not to go with a week to finish. I thought it would be impossible to create even a reasonably good application with 5 days to go. Then Edd convinced me to try anyway.
Within 5 days we created almost 100% of the application we eventually demonstrated to the judges. In that time I think I learned more than I have this year at University – turning from a complete WPF novice into a reasonably competent developer. (Maybe not.)
Either way, we eventually found ourselves at Microsoft’s UK offices to present the fruits of our labours. Although we came 4th, we both learned a lot – both on the way and at the finals. Had we actually worked on it more and prepared our presentation better, I’m sure we could have done better. I’m definitely up for entering again next year.
Congratulations to the winners: Kevin Pfister and Project OVE – I hope you guys have fun in New York (and win the global final of course). I would like to thank Ben Nunney and everybody else who was there for a great experience yesterday.