SA students heading for Seattle in international coding competition

Three teams of student programmers are celebrating today, as they dust off their passports for a trip to the US. There, they’ll compete against challengers from around the world for cash prizes of up to R521 000 and the prestigious Imagine Cup.

Sponsored by Microsoft, the Imagine Cup is run as part of the firm’s YouthSpark program. It’s open to students who must develop solutions to real-world problems being experienced within their respective communities. The South African leg of the event saw entries 56 entries from universities across the country in three categories: Gaming, Innovation and World Citizenship.

The third place went to the Em Squared team from the University of Pretoria. Their project is a space puzzle game called Tilt, which makes use of advanced mobile device features such as the gyroscope and accelerometer to capitalise on an easy-to-use and entertaining game mechanism. Each team member walked away with R2 500 and a Nokia Lumia 625 smartphone.

In sec0nd place is the Fo(u)r Slaves team from the University of Cape Town.Their project is called me@OpenBox, a solution that incorporates a unified communications platform to allow employees to communicate and collaborate with one another using a virtual ‘bulletin board’ that is secured as well as tailored to each employee, ensuring the privacy of messaging. Each team member walked away with R3 500 and a Nokia Lumia 1320 phablet.

The top prize went to the Super Sea Dragons team from the University of Pretoria, with each member walking away with R5 000 and a Nokia Lumia 1520 flagship smartphone. Their project is called Orbit which is a 2D action-adventure game focused on the exploration and navigation of small planets, as well as collecting weapons and upgrades to fight for one’s survival. Players assume the role of Atlas the astronaut, Earth’s last hope for finding a new habitat to survive in.

Orbit, courtesy of

“These students all share one goal, which is the use of technology to address a problem that exists within their communities and countries. The various teams endeavour to make the world a better place and, in so doing, are presented with an opportunity to compete for generous cash prizes, including the opportunity to meet Bill Gates and receive guidance to help them start their own small business,” said head of Microsoft South Africa’s developer and platform team, Clifford de Wit.

The Imagine Cup World Finals event will be held between 29th July and 2th August at Microsoft’s offices in Seattle, and there’s a cash prize for the top team within each category – Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship – being awarded $50,000 (R520 000)

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