Two teams from the University of Ulster will compete in the national final of a worldwide technology competition in Dublin today.
The Imagine Cup is a global software design and development competition that aims to encourage students to apply their imagination, passion and creativity to create high-tech solutions to international problems.
Two groups of first year computing students from Ulster’s School of Computing and Information Engineering, Coleraine campus, have won a place among the last 12 in the Ireland Imagine Cup 2010.
The theme of this year’s competition, which is hosted by Microsoft, is 'Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems'.
Ulster’s teams are: ADDS (Aid, Disaster and Distribution System) Adam Currie, Carrie-Lynn Kane, Christopher Newton, Jonathon McKinney and mentor Stuart Henry
SHAUN (Software Help for Autistic User Needs) Ciara Murphy, David McFaull, Rebecca Lynam, Gary Marrs (mentor).
“ADDS is a system that unites the voluntary work of government bodies and charities worldwide in preparing for and dealing with natural disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, famine and droughts. This system enables provision of aid and resources to victims to meet their basic human rights such as food, drinking water, shelter and warmth,” said Stuart Henry.
“Many disasters, including the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, have reaffirmed concerns regarding the lack of aid, support, resources and speed of response when reaching the victims.
“With technologies today already being able to predict natural disasters, our system will use this to prepare and have on standby, resources and aid that would be required should a disaster occur.”
Mentor Gary Marrs explained: “ The SHAUN software is designed to help autistic children at primary school level develop their communication skills with others.”
“The package aims to help children receive a full primary education and therefore prepare them for secondary learning and their everyday lives.
“Typically autistic children lack in the areas of social interaction and communication. By introducing SHAUN into special needs schools and mainstream schools we hope to increase the inclusion of autistic children and at the same time improve their educational and social abilities.”
Both teams have been developing their software using Microsoft technologies and have been greatly assisted by David Gibson, a current final year student, who is the Microsoft Student Partner at the Coleraine campus.
Dr Michaela Black, senior lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Engineering, said: “This type of competition offer students a great experience as a team of developers creating a valuable solution to a real world problem. This is a great achievement for these first year pupils within the School."
The winner will be announced tomorrow (Thursday) following an intense two day final at Microsoft Ireland Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology.
She added: “The dedication of the teams, their mentors and the staff has been fantastic – what a great opportunity for the students’ personal development. Our teams are prepared for the finals where they will showcase and market their ideas and software to the judges in Dublin – true dragons' den style.”
Students from the School have had previous success in this software development competition with the Phonic Fun team coming second in 2007, followed by Enviro-KUDOS team making to the finals in 2008 with their advergaming within social networking. Two teams also made into the top 20 in the world games competition in 2008. The Imagine Cup continues to encourage students around the globe to imagine a better world in which people are empowered by technology.
The United Nations has identified some of the hardest challenges in the world today in its Millennium Development Goals — ranging from reducing poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.