Four UH teams compete in Microsoft challenge
UH’s Computer Science students are competing in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011, to promote their life and environment saving, computerized games.
The four teams competing in Seattle from April 8-12 are Team Righteous Noodle (Windows), Team STC (Xbox360), Team AAMP (Windows Phone 7) and Big Impact Bear.
Team leader of Righteous Noodle and computer science undergraduate Jack Chaiyakhom gave his ideas about the team and competition.
“My team competes in the PC/Xbox game design category,” Chaiyakhom said. “In the game design category, we can be creative and imagine a non-existing technology to solve an existing problem. The problems that I am referring to are related to UN Millennium goals. These problems include poverty, wide-spreading disease and lack of education.”
Team Righteous Noodle has created a game, Eva Frontier, which is a humanitarian mission game that involves delivering food and medicine to needy villagers.
“I believe my team will win this year,” Chaiyakhom said. “Eva Frontier is more original and has more depth than the games I have seen so far.”
The team’s mentor, computer science professor Chang Yun, explained his affiliation with the competition and how he and UH got involved with the Imagine Cup.
“Since 2008, I have taught Interactive Game Development courses and I have served as mentor every year since then,” Yun said. “It was back in 2007 when Bradley Jensen, the Microsoft Academic Relationship Manager, approached and informed me about the Imagine Cup competition. Since then, I have encouraged my students to participate in the International Imagine Cup competition each year.”
Yun talked briefly about the success of UH teams in the past and how they achieved high-ranking positions in the Imagine Cup competitions.
“We have been successful in this competition, one in top 20 in 2008, one in top 50 in 2009, four in top 150 in 2010 — and our new competition record is six in top 50. We beat our own record.”
Yun also described details about the competition itself.
“The Imagine Cup … brings together young technologists worldwide to help resolve some of the world’s toughest challenges,” Yun said. “The Imagine Cup compromises of five major technology competitions, including Software Design and four challenges.
“Competitors create projects that address the Imagine Cup theme, ‘Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.’ Started in 2003, it has steadily grown in size, where in 2010 more than 325,000 competitors representing 100 countries and regions registered for the Imagine Cup with 400 finalists coming to the worldwide finals in Warsaw, Poland.
“This is the first time the International competition will be held in the US,” Yun said.
Though the UH teams will be participating in both the national and international competitions, the team’s first task will be the US competition in Redmond, Wash., the location of Microsoft headquarters. After that, they head to New York City for the international competitions in July.
Even with the extreme competition coming in from the US and worldwide teams, Yun said the team’s chances of winning are similar to last year’s UH teams — they placed 2nd and 3rd in the Imagine Cup 2010.
“Despite the fact that the UH gaming program is relatively unknown, both internally and externally, the students’ skill levels and their games are highly competitive,” Yun said. “We expect both good results in this year’s competitions.
“There are two divisions — PC/Xbox 360 and Mobile. In the US competition, our games are contenders in both divisions. In the international competition, one of our teams has a significant chance to advance to the final (top five in the world). This is significant because only one US team has ever made it to the finals in the past three years.”
According to Yun, the teams already have the upper hand in the competition.
“This year, UH has the biggest representation, four teams in US, of any university in the US competition,” Yun said. “We also set a record in the international competition with a record of six teams ranked as top 50 in the world.”
Ranking in the top 50 and beating their own record makes it a guarantee that this year’s team will come out on top — which will hopefully lead to an awarding outcome.
First-place participants will earn $6,000 and a potential internship. Second to fourth place winners will earn a lesser amount of money, though they will still have the same internship opportunity.
Regardless of whether the UH teams take first place, Yun still wants his students to come away from this competition with more knowledge and experience.
“It will be a great experience for my students,” Yun said. “In the end, I want them to have successful careers. They may not end up having game-related professions, but having international finalists on their resumes helps.”
Yun wants everyone to realize how much work his students put into their games.
“In addition to other school works, my students contribute 10-40 hours per week to perfect their games,” Yun said. “It’s no wonder why UH teams are so successful in both national and international settings.”