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Jamaican Youth Impress Microsoft

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March 5, 2008 – Having made a name for itself in music and sports, Jamaica may be on its way to having a one-of-a-kind software company and product courtesy of its 2007 Imagine Cup team.

The members, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) graduates Conroy Smith, Ayson Baxter, Damian Mitchell and Imran Allie (ICAD), are currently in Silicon Valley in Pal California, for the two-week Imagine Cup Accelerator Programme sponsored by Microsoft and British Telecommunications (BT).

Brightest minds in the field

The programme brings together the brightest minds in the field of information technology to work with the top six Imagine Cup teams, equipping them with the training to turn their projects into products. Senior director of academic initiative for Microsoft, Joe Wilson, notes that Microsoft’s continued commitment to education was making the breakthrough a reality.

He was speaking during a press briefing at the Computer History Museum on Tuesday. He noted that the Imagine Cup was not only about creating technology, but creating the technology that matters. Last year’s theme was ‘Imagine a World Where Technology Enables a Better Education For All’.

At the 2007 Imagine Cup in Seoul, South Korea, the Jamaican team came third with their Computer Aided Distance Instruction (CADI) software. CADI is an interactive classroom software that connects teachers, students and resources from anywhere in the world once there is steady Internet access. The programme provides real-time translation in 12 languages. Students and teachers can share material regardless of language in a virtual classroom.

“I never imagined that project could have brought us this far. Today we are here and this goes to show that you never know when your break will come or what you will do,” notes team member Allie.

The teams currently participating in the programme are: Thailand, Korea, Ireland, Mexico and Poland. Surprised by their third place win in Korea, Baxter told The Gleaner, that he was surprised to see these companies interested in their software.

“It’s amazing to see the glee in their faces, that they are impressed,” he said.

Wilson told The Gleaner he was impressed with the team’s software and what it could do.

“But I was more impressed with the people,” he continued. “If this is an example of what Jamaica can offer the world, you guys are in perfect shape.”

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