Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm still alive, but I've been so busy the last couple of months that I haven't had the time to update the blog. So here comes a blog post a bit longer than usual.

A lot of things have happened since the last post from August 3rd:
- Team Norway got third place in the Software Design final in Imagine Cup
- My internship at Microsoft is over
- I'm back in Norway at school

So, let's take the first things first.

From the 4th to the 12th of August I had one week off from my internship at Microsoft to participate in the International finals of Imagine Cup 2006 in Agra and New Delhi, India, together with my team mates from Norway. I flew from Seattle to New York, had 20 minutes to get on the plane to New Delhi and then spent the next 14 hours on that plane. We actually flew right above Trondheim, the city where I study here in Norway. I took around 30 hours in total, and then add the 11,5 hours of time difference and staying up the first night in India to get our demo up and running, and you're there.

We didn't really expect to get as far as we got in India, since we knew there were going to be very many good teams and solutions. But we wanted to do our best, and at least we would get to see what India and the Imagine Cup finals are like :-)

Our team consists of four students from NTNU; Jan-Kristian (who is a FTE at MS now), Jonas, Gøran and me. We participated in the Software Design category, in which you are to come up with an idea on this year's Imagine Cup theme and design a software solution around this.
The Software Design category consisted of three rounds. The first round was a 20 minute presentation where we presented our solution to the judges, and then 10 minutes with Q&A after wards. We held our presentation, and we thought it went pretty well, but we were still a bit surprised when we were selected to be among the 12 best teams that went to the second round. Now we were starting to think "maybe we're onto something here", and went for the second round presentation to do our best.

As always, things didn't come together before the last moment. We stayed up all night before the first round to get our demo up and running, and when we got to the second round, we had to improve it a bit. So we were coding to the last moment. After the second round, things got even better when it was announced that we were among the six best teams, along with Denmark, Italy, Japan, China and Brazil. We were to present our solution to all the other contestants at the biggest conference center in New Delhi! The presentation went well, and we managed to answer the questions the judges came up with pretty well. Finally we ended up third, winning $10 000 and a trip to England in January!

The trip was great; we got to see India and met a lot of other smart people with the same interests. The only showstopper was that I got sick a couple of days, probably because I ate some ice cream which I shouldn't have eaten. I missed a couple of things, the trip to Taj Mahal, among others.

Thanks to all the people who made Imagine Cup 2006 possible and to all the participants for a great time in India!

Us on stage in Delhi, presenting the MSN bot in our solution.

After the prize ceremony. We won $10 000! (Me on the far left)

Gøran has published a few photos from India on his Flickr site:

When we got third place, we got a lot of publicity on many internet sites and in many newspapers. The number of results when you google my name has skyrocketed from about fifty to several hundred.

Here is a collection of links to news paper articles about Imagine Cup (mostly in Norwegian, unfortunately): Demokraten: Fredrikstad-student i verdenstoppen Dagbladet: Nerde-bronse Fredrikstad Blad: Bronse til Hvaler-gutt i Imagine Cup Fredrikstad Blad: Til topps i Imagine Cup? Fredrikstad Blad: Til "data-VM" i India Microsoft Announces Imagine Cup 2006 Winners - Norwegian Students Take 3rd Adressavisen: NTNU-bronse i India NTNU-studenter i verdensklasse Adressavisen: NTNU-studenter i verdenstoppen Computerworld: Tredjeplass for NTNU-studenter Dagens IT: Forsvarer Norges ære Dagens IT: NTNU-studenter på verdenstoppen NTNU-studenter på global medaljeplass Nordmenn i global teknologikonkurranse  Grunder: Stor seier for NTNU-studentene Nettavisen: NTNU helt i tet Nordlys: Lakselv-studenter kan nå helt til tops Gjør suksess i India Nordlys: Lakselvgutter i verdenstoppen

I'll talk more about my internship at Microsoft in a later blog post.

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