First trip to Silicon Valley

In summer 2008 me and three friends representing Hungary as team DigitalMania took part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competiton in the software design category – one of the largest student technology competitons in the world. The task was to design an implement a solution regarding an environmental issue. We focused on the water problem and created the prototype of a system that aimed to reduce water used for irrigation by taking account various factors such as soil moisture, weather forecasts and custom user defined rules. We used custom hardware (controlling the pipes) and .NET, ASP.NET and Silverlight to for the user interface while developing the solution.

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To test how the system would work in real life we first constructed a mathematical simulation and – after we’ve calculated that savings would be 10-15% even to the soil mositure monitoring system and far more for automatic systems we built a simulation table to monitor and demonstrate the same think in a micro environment.

The GreenWatering simulation table

The GreenWatering simulation table

At the worldwide finals in Paris we presented our solution multiple times to various judges. Apparently we have impressed them as we made it through the first round (to the top 12 teams), then to the great finals (top 6 teams) and got the opportunity to present in front of 2.000 people in the Louvre. It was a lifetime experience – that was actually the first time I had ever seen such a professional show from really close not to mention being part of it.

Presenting at the Imagine Cup worldwide finals, in the Lovre

Presenting at the Imagine Cup worldwide finals, in the Louvre

We did really well at the competition: we won worldwide 3rd prize! And not only that, but we were one of the 6 teams to win the Innovation Accelerator prize which is actually what is taking us to Silicon Valley along with the Australian, French, German, Slovakian and South African team as well. In Silicon Valley – to which we will be starting off quite soon – we will be taking part in a business focused training organized by Microsoft with the aim of transforming our project into business reality.

Teams having won the Innovation Accelerator prize

Teams having won the Innovation Accelerator prize

Now apart from the fact that the insight this training is likely to give some other factors that are making me super excited:

  • Last time I was in California I was 6. So there aren’t too many memories but the ones I have are all sunny and involve palm trees. Got to see that again.
  • Going to Silicon Valley. Something I’ve secretly always wanted. I’m sure to be the tourist geek to take a picture of me and the Googleplex.
  • I just love Taco Bell and we don’t have that in Hungary (since a few years ago not even Wendys who had something that was _similar_ to taco salad).

So to sum it up I’m up for a great experience. Oh, and a great and little netbook is coming along with me – with an extra XL battery it’s supposed to be running 8 hours straight, shall see.