Imagine Cup 2005 - Report from Yokohama

The final event has started. The best students from dozens of countries are here to demonstrate who is the best. It is a competition to “celebrate achievement in technology” in invitationals that include algorithm, software design, visual gaming, IT, short film,and more.
We are in Yokohama, Japan, which was chosen for its fit to this years theme “Imagine a world where technology dissolves the boundaries between us”. Japan has that unique combination of high technology and the tradition that comes from a culture built over thousands of years.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to greet students at the Narita airport as they were arriving. It was fantastic to talk about their projects and see how excited they were to be here representing their country. For many it was their first international trip. For everyone this has ben a unique opportunity to interact with other students from all over the world.
This year I am running the IT competition, where 6 students (from Austria, Italy, France, Germany and 2 from Romania) are working on setting up the IT environment for a typhoon relief company. A coincidence -Tokyo was hit by a Typhoon just two days ago as we were flying in. The students will need to set up servers, laptops, firewalls, messaging, VPN access and other services for the fictitious company.
Over the next 24 hours we will present the students with unforeseen challenges, just like in real life IT departments face. Some of these challenges could be a hacker attack or a power outage.Competitorswill be scored based on how effectively and creatively they manage the situation. At the end of the competition they will need to demonstrate the capabilities of the systems they have built as required in the specs providad at the beginning of the competition.
Last night at the welcome reception we had a great time. It looked like a regular party with a bunch of students from all over the world. But then, I realized the incredible brainpower that was in the room – these are the smartest kids in the world. These guys are already using technology in new ways and having an impact in their countries. A few years from now, people present in this room will be running companies, inventing new technologies, and changing our lives.
On a sad note, the Indian team has not been able to make it to Yokohama. A monsoon hit Mumbai, as you have probably seen in the news, which was showered with an incredible 3 feet of rain in one day! The airport has been closed for the last two days. We are hoping flights resume soon and that they make it on time to get back on the schedule. The Indian teams, just like everybody here, have spent countess hours preparing to compete.
Stay tuned – it is only 4pm in Yokohama - we have 22 hours to go!!