I was honored to be a judge again this year for one of my favorite community initiatives: Imagine Cup Junior. Imagine Cup Junior is a technology-centered competition hosted by Microsoft for teams of 1-6 students ages 13-18. Judges this year were asked to evaluate teams’ contest submissions using a standardized rubric for the theme, AI for Good. I am so very inspired by the ingenuity and heart behind the solutions presented.
This year I had the privilege of serving as one of 165 judges for Imagine Cup Junior 2021. Imagine Cup was new to me last year (2020), and I knew immediately I wanted to play a part in this amazing program. As a Microsoft MVP I was eligible to help and threw my name in the ring for judge selection for both Imagine Cup (collegiate division for ages 16+) as well as Imagine Cup Junior (ages 13-18). While I wasn’t selected as an Imagine Cup judge, I was thrilled to be asked to serve in the Junior division process.
Imagine Cup is basically a tech skills-based competition that not only has teams entering amazing projects and ideas in a bracket, but it serves as a learning journey as well. Teams are given resources, learning event opportunities, and information throughout the duration of the competition to help from beginning their Azure or other tech learning to completion of a robust and impressive project. The Junior division doesn’t actually build their solution, but proposes a comprehensive idea and often prototypes or videos to help illustrate the concept. The collegiate division, however, does actually build their project.
While both divisions focus on solving global issues using Microsoft tech, submissions and specific technology focuses may vary. For example, the collegiate division (Imagine Cup) this year accepted a broad array of team project submissions in the categories of Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle. The Junior division (Imagine Cup Junior) focused the tech aspect specifically on AI for Good, and had categories of AI for Earth, AI for Health, AI for Accessibility, AI for Humanitarian Action, and AI for Cultural Heritage.
In the Junior division, there isn’t one winning team but a top 10. As a judge, I was asked to evaluate a group of submissions using a standardized rubric. I was so blown away by the ingenuity and compassion behind many of these submissions and am excited to see what these young innovators do next. The future is in good hands.