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Canadian Microsoft Imagine Cup finals are this week, and competition is fierce

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As the rest of the world settles in for the weekend, five teams of Canadian students will be competing in Toronto to test their mettle at a programming competition hosted by Microsoft.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a science fair-style competition that’s part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. Students compete by creating apps and games that “shape how we live, work and play,” according to the Imagine Cup website.

“It’s about providing a forum to build student ideas that they really think can have an impact on the world,” said Sage French, a technical evangelist at Microsoft, in a phone call with MobileSyrupThis is the competition 15th year, and this year’s theme is cloud computing.

“One of the big technologies that Microsoft sees going forward is the cloud,” said French. “[The competition] is an open forum for whatever topic or problem they want to tackle, as long as it implements cloud computing in some way, specifically using Microsoft Azure.”

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing service. In addition to utilizing cloud computing in some way, projects are also judged on whether or not they can be successfully implemented to solve real problems.

This year, teams from the University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa, McMaster University, University of Toronto, College Jean-de-Brebeuf and CEGEP de Saint-Jérôme will showcase projects aimed at empowering security professionals to more quickly analyze security footage; individuals who are vision-impaired to more easily utilize their smartphones; as well as medical professionals diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases.

The two Canadian finalists will travel to Redmond, Washington to compete in the Imagine Cup World Finals. In addition to a $100,000 USD grand prize, winners of the Imagine Cup World Finals will also be awarded with the opportunity to meet Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who will lend his insight to mentor the winning team and their project.

“We have some incredible projects this year,” said French. “We have very impactful projects.”

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