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Update: North American Imagine Cup 2008 Crowns Winner

Team Sparx takes away top honor and trip to global final in Paris in July.

With a theme like "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment," the North American Imagine Cup 2008's "green" theme seemed to mesh with the many Earth Day celebrations taking place across the city of Los Angeles this week. All six finalists' entries in this year's competition had something to do with lessening the impact of humanity upon the environment.

Emerging from the competition with top honors was Team Sparx, made up of three Rochester Institute of Technology undergrads -- Ziyan "Joe" Zhou, Zachery Shivers and Adam Risi.

Team Sparx developed Reactivity, which Risi, as designated spokesperson of the group, said was "built using Windows Presentation Foundation and Communications platforms to design a multiple-node sensor and control network for homes and business to minimize energy use." Risi said the group could see immediate and practical application.

Zhou's win puts him in familiar territory -- he competed last year when it was still a one person, one software development project format and placed high enough to go to South Korea for the 2007 global final. Still, Zhou said he felt "more pressure, since we had to depend on each other to develop and finish this project."

The other five finalists:

  • Team CarbonCart.com based out of Seattle Pacific University created CarbonCart.com, a carbon offset system that allows for a partial fee from online purchases to be redirected to help pay for reforestation efforts or building or developing of sustainable energy resources.
  • Team CU GameDev from the University of Colorado at Boulder developed the Carbon Footprint Calculator, which lets users calculate one's carbon-based energy output. Much of the data can then be gathered, anonymized and then spit out into reports that can provide carbon-derived demographic data.
  • The Gridlock Guys from California State University at Long Beach developed Got a Ride?, a .NET/Silverlight/XML/SQL Server mashup application built for Facebook users; primarily, it matches up university commuters with empty vehicles.
  • Team IcedTeamLemon, with members coming from Carnegie Mellon University, The College of William & Mary, and University of California, Los Angeles, said its LemonSketch application started out as a drawing tool primarily for getting people familiar with the Tablet PC interface, but morphed into a learning and collaboration tool to teach users a different way to take notes and share them in a networked environment.
  • Team Iowa's Footprint is another carbon footprint calculator, but with a twist -- it catalogs carbon use of everyday things based on information culled from public Internet sources, with the data measured against what duo of developers from the University of Iowa called a "Hummer" Index.

The Team Sparx members appeared visibly excited at the prospect of traveling to Paris, France, where they'll be pitted against several dozen winners around the world in a global final that takes place July 3-8.

"I've always wanted to visit Europe," said Risi. "Paris is one cool introduction" to the continent.

For more information: Imagine Cup 2008, Team Sparx Reactivity blog and wiki.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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