"Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems." This is the theme for the 2011 Imagine Cup, a competition Microsoft corporation sponsors every year.
Students from the Kurdish region will participate in the software design competition for the first time this year. The Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals are held in a different country each year, and will take place this year July 8th-13th in New York City.
Microsoft encourages students from around the world to participate in the event, which is considered the "premier" international student technology competition.
Botan Othman, head of the Department of Information Technology in the regional government, told Mawtani that four students from the Kurdish region will be chosen to participate in the Imagine Cup.
"These students will be selected during a competition that focuses on developing software and will be held at the university level in the Kurdistan region," he said.
Students in the Kurdish region must submit their presentations by April 1st to the Department of Information Technology. Participating students will then be invited to take part in the Imagine Cup competition for the Kurdish region on April 15th, where the winning students will be chosen to go to the finals in New York City.
"A competition will be held among the technology departments of the universities of the Kurdistan region to select the best IT team in developing software, and that team will then participate in the world competition," Othman said.
The Imagine Cup competition was founded in 2003 and has been held Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, South Korea, France, Egypt and Poland. The objective is to provide new initiatives in the field of technology and software design.
Ghassan Shahin, Microsoft's representative in the Middle East, held a press conference last week in Erbil, where he announced that this is the first time students from the Kurdish region are participating in the competition.
"Microsoft is planning to assist the IT students and the universities of the Kurdistan region to acquaint them with new innovations and applications, as well as exchange expertise and scientific ideas," he said.
"This is the first time in the history of the competition that Kurdistan region students are participating on behalf of Iraq," Shahin said.
In recent years, many universities in the Kurdish region opened technology institutes and special faculties for technology and software development.
Since this is the first time students from the region will participate in the competition, many of them are unfamiliar with it. However, they said the opportunity to participate in an international competition of this caliber was important.
"It is an important opportunity for the universities in the Kurdistan region to participate in the world competition to prove our abilities," said Renj Mohammed, a computer science student.
"The participation of Kurdish students in such international competitions and exchanges of information with world universities will assist in raising the scientific level of the Kurdistan region universities," he said.
Imagine Cup 2010 was held in Warsaw, Poland, and about 325,000 students from more than 100 countries attended. A team of students from Thailand took home the grand prize of $25,000.
Students can obtain detailed information about the competition via the website www.imaginecup.com.