saudi students showcase innovation at national final of software design tournament

Published June 19th, 2007 - 10:30 GMT

saudi students showcase innovation at national final of software design tournament

Under the patronage of the Mayor of Jeddah Microsoft unveils winning team to represent the Kingdom at Imagine Cup finals in South Korea

The best and brightest young minds of the Kingdom were on show today as Microsoft Saudi Arabia proudly announced the winning team to represent the country at their international Imagine Cup finals due to take place in Seoul, South Korea in August.
The Imagine Cup is one way in which Microsoft is encouraging young people to apply their imagination, passion, and creativity to develop technological innovations that can make a difference in the world today. Now in its fifth year, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a truly global competition, with close to 100,000 registered entrants from all around the world, striving for the unique opportunity to present their ideas to an international audience of millions.
“The students who participate in the Imagine Cup represent the next generation of technology and business leaders”, said Dr. Khaled Al-Dhaher, General Manager, Microsoft Saudi Arabia on presenting the awards to the winners. “Their creativity and innovation speak volumes about the promise of technology to really make a difference in peoples’ lives and in the way we think, work and communicate.”
This year’s theme challenged the entrants to “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all”, and with this firmly in mind some of the most promising young Saudi minds embarked upon a project that would see the winning national team face competition from over 100 countries.
The winning Saudi team this year is SmartPal, from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals. Their concept is designed to work as an advanced artificial intelligent teacher that acquires information in any field via multiple sources including the internet and then answer any question or query in that field via normal human conversation (sound), video presentation (animation) or text representation (writing). 
However this was certainly no easy victory, as they faced extremely tough competition from two other short listed finalists who both displayed a tremendous level of creativity and originality in their submissions:  Genius Point produced an application to help instructors and teachers easily prepare their lectures and make the classroom more interactive by producing on the fly descriptive PowerPoint 2007 presentations via voice commands, intelligent auto feed content search and sharable knowledge experience.  Coming in third Summary Source designed a software application that gives a practical academic summary to any technical paper marking out only valuable information - giving the reader the ability to summarize a 500-600 page book in just a few condensed pages.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Jeddah, H.E. Adel Faqeeh, said: “Following on from Ahmed Al-Nuaimi’s recent high profile success with his Smart Shoe for Blind People it is fantastic to see even more home grown talent developing some truly inspiring technological ideas.   We wish SmartPal the best in Seoul and we encourage more companies in the private sector to organize similar programs.”
“This year’s competition has perhaps been one of the most difficult competitions I have ever had the privilege to judge, with all the short listed teams producing some fantastic pieces of work.” said Dr. Arwa Al-Aama, Vice Dean, College of Computing & Information Technology, King Abdulaziz University. “We started with over 3000 male and female students attending launch events at universities in the Central, Western, and Eastern provinces, and over the course of this year’s event have short listed entries down to today’s winners.”   
SmartPal will not have long to enjoy their success. Before they embark upon their trip to the South Korean capital, they will have to work hard with their Academic Mentor, University and Business supporter to prepare the solution and get ready for the world stage.  Salman Al-Ansari the team leader said: “We knew we were going to face really tough competition from the other teams, so we just worked as hard as we could. We are thrilled to be chosen to represent our country in Seoul, but we know our challenge has only just begun. Last year’s Saudi team coming tenth in the global Imagine Cup finals was an inspiration to us.  We’re hoping to do even better this year.”
Dr Al-Dhaher concluded: “The Imagine Cup is yet another way Microsoft - as a global leader in IT - is helping students in the Kingdom to realize their potential, giving them the opportunity to become technology leaders and entrepreneurs; but it doesn’t stop there.  We were so impressed with the Saudi winners of the 2005 and 2006 Imagine Cups that we now have three of them working with us at Microsoft Saudi Arabia, putting their skills into practice.  All of this year’s short listed teams presented workable, inspiring solutions that can help make a richer learning experience to peoples’ lives. SmartPal was selected by the judges as the strongest, and we wish them luck in Seoul!”

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