Imagine Cup 2010 IT Challenge Final Competition Blog

Following the 24-hour Head to Head International Competition

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We are using Microsoft Live Messenger, a component of where we have a group chat setup.  Any time any of the competitors or judges posts something to the group chat, everyone gets the message, so ALL questions and ALL answers to those questions are shared by everyone in the group.We've used Microsoft Live Meeting for shared desktop and voice over the Internet communications where the judges have been able to peer into the systems of the competitors to browse their work, and the judges have been able to collectively review competitor progress on the milestones.  Despite the judges literally on opposite sides of the globe with the competitors and judges spanning 5 continents right now, we are working and communicating as if we were all in the same room together!So while I had a lot of reservations of the potential for success of a fully online final competition, with a little Microsoft technology on our systems, and a lot of Microsoft technology in the cloud, the online competition is a new experience and so far, so good...


Saturday, 24-April, 5:40pm GMT (10:40am California time)

A visit from Cosmin Ilie, the IC2009 (Cairo) IT Challenge Champion!

Fewer than 6-1/2 hours left in this competition, I don't quite know what happened in the past half hour, I think I must have nodded off at my keyboard...  The competitors have been given the Milestone #4 challenge, so in the next half hour, we'll check in with them on their progress toward that milestone.

In the meantime, the 2009 Imagine Cup IT Challenge champion, Cosmin Ilie, popped in on Judge Valy at his University office in Romania!  This is all part of that personal relationship / camaraderie that I mentioned in my last post that the IT Competition builds.  We have seen Cosmin for the prior 3 years as he competed in 2007 in Seoul (took 3rd), then in 2008 in Paris (took 2nd), and finally 3rd time was the charm as he ended up in 1st place in Cairo in 2009!

Cosmin has been active on the Imagine Cup forum, providing guidance and tips to the competitors, it was great to have him pop into Valy's office and come in on the judge's concall to chat with us here in California!

Back in 2008 when we were all in Paris, the 2005 (Yokohama, Japan) Imagine Cup IT Challenge Champion, Stefan Plizga popped in on us at the final competition in Paris when we had the face the face competition there.

It is GREAT to have the Imagine Cup IT Challenge alumni continue to participate, mentor, and lead as role models!


Saturday, 24-April, 6:25pm GMT (11:25am California time)

Milestone #4 - SERVER CRASH! / ALERT!!!

The competitors just finished Milestone #4 which was to simulate a server crash and to be alerted that one of their key systems had failed.  In IT, being on top of system operations is very important, and knowing the state of servers and systems is crutial.  As we get to the final 6 hours of this competition, the competitors have already (should have already) built out their core infrastructure including Windows, Exchange, SharePoint, File/Print, Databases, etc.  So now it is a matter of making sure they can keep their systems patched and updated, have monitoring and alerting enabled, and fine tune their environment.

In milestone #4, we brought down one of the students servers (we were nice and had them tell us which server they would like us to bring down), and with the server going offline, the person they designated as the System Administrator should have received an email alert notifying them that a server is down and give them specifics.

For you techies, this is a feature in System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, a part of the competition that Judge Chris likes as his 1050-page book System Center Enterprise Suite Unleashed thru Sams Publishing just became available worldwide on Monday that covers the step by step process of implementing SCOM, ConfigMgr for patching/updating, Service Mgr for helpdesk management, DPM 2010 for backup, and Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 for virtual server management...

Anyway, 4 milestones down, 16 left to go and 5-1/2 hours left...  Chris just emailed all of the competitors the final ruberic of how the last 16 tasks will be graded.  Usually we keep it a secret and just see what the competitors come up with from the description of the case study, however since the final scoring will be done by just the judges instead of a face to face interview and demonstration by each of the competitors as we have done in the past, we need each of the competitors to document their scenario so we can zip through to see that everything is working (or not).

So, onward, the final kick here to the end...  5-hours, 27-minutes, 18-seconds...


Saturday, 24-April, 9:45pm GMT (2:45pm California time)

Milestone #5 - Documentation Done...  2-hrs, 15-min, 11-sec to go...

Whew, wouldn't have believed 20 hours ago that we would be near the finish line, but we're really really close...  All of the competitors completed the last mid-competition milestone, #5, which was to submit documentation of their planned/current environment.  Basically, what is it that they are building to meet the requirements of the case study, what technologies do they plan to do, how do they have (or plan to have) the servers configured, etc.  EVERYONE submitted their docs and earned more points.  According to my scorecard, the Top 5 competitors are all within 10 points of the mean, and considering each task is worth 10 points and we have 15 more tasks to grade them on, the 5th place person can jump into 1st place right now simply by doing just 1 task that the current 1st place person doesn't complete, that's how close this competition is right now...

The Top 3 out of the 6 competitors today will go to Warsaw this summer to spend a week participating in the Imagine Cup cultural exchange activities meeting finalists from other Imagine Cup competitions (Software Design, Digital Media, etc) and ultimately walking the stage during the Awards Ceremony to pick up either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd prize awards!

This has been a GREAT competition so far, counting down...


Saturday, 24-April, 11:48pm GMT (4:48pm California time)


Okay, 23-hours, 48 minutes through the competition, and the final results are...

Oh, not of the competition, I was looking inside my trash can of what I've managed to choke down for the past 23-hours and 48-minutes while I tried to stay awake, and the tally is:

  • 3 Snicker bars
  • 1 bottle of Cherry Coke-Cola Zero
  • 1 bottle of Crush Cherry
  • 1 large bottle of Crystal Geyser sparkling water
  • 2 McDonalds Sausage McMuffins with Egg
  • 1 Hash Brown
  • 1 McCafe Orange Juice
  • 1 Order of greasy Chinese take-out
  • 1 Order of Dak Gui Korean take-out
  • 2 packages of M&Ms (with peanuts, of course)
  • 1 bag of Kettle Brand Salt and Pepper potato chips
  • and 2 packages of Skittles (Berry flavored)

I have my doctors appointment this coming Tuesday, he'll have a field day when I tell him my diet this past week...  Actual competition closure happening VERY soon, 7 minutes and counting...


Sunday, 25-April, 12:10am GMT (5:09pm California time)


The 2010 Imagine Cup Competition IT Challenge has come to an end.  After 24 solid hours from 6 of the BEST IT finalists we've ever had, the judges will now individually review each competitor's project across 15 tasks to score the outcomeI want to thank ALL of you who have followed my blog over the past 40 or so hours.  I think I have imprints of my keyboard on my forehead as I fell asleep a couple times on my keyboard...I will update this blog one more time in the next couple days once the official announcement is made on which of the 3 competitors will be traveling to Poland the first week of July to participate in the Final Awards Ceremony and World Showcase activities.From there, it'll be July 8th when I post the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners... (this is like the TV show Survivor, the tiki holder flies away from the island from a bunch of dirty, stinky, unshaven folks, and in July we'll fly in all clean shaven, hair cut, clean clothes, make-up on (okay, no make-up for me), and the finalists will be named...)As I closed the competition today with the finalists, there are NO losers today.  These 6 are #1 in their respective countries, and even #1 on their contienent. They ARE their country representatives for the best of the best that have risen from THOUSANDS of college students from over 100 countries (okay, was curious and had a few minutes of free time and went through and did a data sort, and actually 86 countries):Just to BE in the Top 6 in the world is something these students will be able to put on their resume for the rest of their lives!  They have spent the past 24 solid hours (after a normal long week of school (and for most of them, work as well)) in a head to head competition!I am VERY proud to have been able to participate once again as the Head Judge for this year's competition, and I thank my Co-Captin and Judges Chris Amaris and Valy Greavu for their continued support, and for our Judge Kim Amaris for her contribution this year! (we want to see more women compete next year!)

Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam , Zimbabwe

Watch the Final Wrap-up session here:

GREAT competition, looking forward to a week in Poland this summer to greet the competitors in person and participate in a wonderful week of festivities!Rand


Thursday, 29-April, 9:37am California Time

Top 3 Finalists Announced!!!

From the 6 finalists who competed head to head last weekend, the Top 3 were announced.  These 3 will fly to Poland this summer for a week of cultural activities, a chance to meet other Imagine Cup finalists, and at the end of the week to walk up on stage and learn whether they are #1, #2, or #3 in the world.  I look forward to meeting these Top 3 competitors in Warsaw in July!

The Top 3 are as follows (in alphabetical order of the company they are representing):

Miklos Cari (Bolivia)

WeiQiu Wen (China)

Hu Zhengbin (Singapore)

CONGRATULATIONS to the Top 3, you have advanced a LONG way in the competiton!!!

However I would be remiss if I did not again recognize the other 3 finalists in the competition who endured a very long journey this year in a challenging competition that tested their knowledge and experience working with Microsoft technologies.  So a huge congratulations to the other finalists who competed last weekend!

Sherif Talaat (Egypt)

Bastien Sivera (France)

Dominik Trojnar (Poland)

I will update this Blog post on or around July 9, 2010 announcing the sequence of the competitors once the awards ceremony presents the finalists with their awards!

And again, thank you to ALL of you who have followed my Imagine Cup 2010 Blog!!!


Thursday, 8-July 10:34pm Warsaw Poland Time

IT Winners Announced in Poland!

Updating my April 2010 blog posting now that the 2010 Imagine Cup IT Challenge competitor order of finals was announced.  It is with great pleasure for me to wrap up this post noting the prize winners:

First Place:  WeiQiu Wen (China) 

Second Place:  Miklos Cari (Bolivia)

Third Place:  Hu Zhengbin (Singapore)

I did a final awards ceremony wrap-up post up on   The Imagine Cup 2011 competition will be held in New York City in the United States during the summer of 2011.  THANK YOU everyone for following my post!


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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