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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Diary: UK Imagine Cup competitors
UK students and Bill Gates
The three students met Bill Gates as part of the competition
Three UK university students are in India to take part in a global software development competition after winning a national heat.

James Lissiak, Andy Sterland and Tom Randell will present their ideas alongside winners from 180 other countries to find an overall winner and are writing a diary of their experiences for the BBC News website.


This morning we were up bright and early for the "expo" part of the competition.

Everyone, including us, was demonstrating their systems.

Many people came along to get the low-down on what we were doing, and we had a chance to take a look at the opposition.

Some of the solutions on show were frankly quite scarily good. Then, at 1230 we went into the auditorium to find out if we had made it into the next round of the competition.

We hadn't.

Unfortunately for us the competition is over. This means that we will have to spend the next three days in a luxury hotel with nothing to do except have a good time.

To put it mildly though, it was a tough experience to see all our hard work fail to get us through, but we are still determined to take this system all the way to a hospital bed, and hey, we did win the UK competition, thank you very much.


Agra, day one, the longest day.

We set off from the hotel in London 20 hours ago and after a somewhat boring eight hour flight and a crazy horn beeping, cow dodging coach ride, we're now sat in the Jaypee Palace Hotel in Agra.

The cultural differences between the UK and India were obvious within seconds, from the smothering humidity to the mountain of Mountain Dew, a caffeine-packed drink which we so often crave back home.

Sitting here in the hotel we get a real feel for how big the Imagine Cup really is. We arrived to a video cameraman filming our walk down the flag-lined walkway.

The number of people here is quite overwhelming, there are teams here representing over 40 countries across all of the categories.

The combination of the anti-malarial tablets and the jetlag left us relieved that we had the Sunday to just chill out and prepare ourselves.

At 19:00 the competition kicked off proper with the opening presentation. After a bunch of videos (one of which had Andy in it), Joe Wilson of Microsoft told us all that making a difference as a developer was as much about leading with your heart as with your head.

Sheila Gulati of Microsoft India urged the audience to "embrace our country and our culture". She said that the best thing to do was to "let India happen to you".

The presentation was rounded up by an absolutely incredible performance by two Indian drummers who filled the place with driving rhythms. At the end we all got instruments to take part in one massive jam session.

It was the first time that all the competitors were together in one room, and it gave us our first taste of the scale of the event.

The auditorium was big, and it was packed with students from all over the world. Then it was on to dinner, which we ate out in the gardens whilst huge fans sprayed us with cooling water, either that or the roof sprang a leak.

After breakfast on the following day we had a low down on the competition procedures and then it was time for things to get real.

As luck would have it we were one of the first people to present our seven minute "Lightning round".

The aim of this was just to introduce ourselves and our project, which we did - in six minutes and 30 seconds precisely.

We are now trying to relax before the main event.


There are 24 hours before we fly off to Delhi, India, for the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and we're a bit nervous about the week ahead.

We are Team Three Pair, from the University of Hull and the UK representatives for the software design competition (SDC).

The SDC is a student competition which challenges teams to solve real world problems with innovative use of technology. This year's theme is: "Imagine a world where technology can help people lead healthier lives."

Our Project, Digital Recovery Environment, helps critically ill patients in Intensive Care to recover and help improve the mental and physical care they already receive.

Through our collaboration with Hope Hospital and Dr Paul Dark, an expert in Intensive Care, we spent a long weekend shadowing doctors on their rounds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Through talking to them, we came across an example of an out-patient response during a feedback session, which quoted: "If I had to go through ICU again, even if it meant saving my life, I wouldn't."

This negative feeling towards the time spent in ICU was our primary motivation for developing our system. We wanted to build a system that could help to change that view and to see where technology could be used in such an environment.

We came up with two aspects where we thought we could make a difference:

  • Filling in the large and scary memory gap experienced when in a coma
  • Connecting family and friends to the patient to encourage the patient as they recovery

    We're so excited and ready for the competition in India. The opportunities the competition has given us, and is still giving us, is brilliant.

    On Monday we will have an update on our progress so far as we prepare to give it our all against some of the world's best technology students.

    UK coders head for global contest
    14 Mar 06 |  Technology
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