Microsoft's Imagine Cup 2011 student competition is already underway, but it's not too late for prospective entries to the Digital Media competition and the Interoperability Challenge.
For the Digital Media competition, student teams are asked to create a video about a big idea that helps address the theme of tackling the world's biggest challenges, and inspires other people to help tackle that issue. Entries are due March 10 at 11:59pm GMT (March 9 at 3:59pm PST).
The theme for the Digital Media competition this year is to use technology to solve the world's toughest problems and is inspired by the UN Millennium Development goals. The rules can be found here (pdf).
The Interoperability Challenge has a deadline of April 27. According to Microsoft, students participating in this category are encouraged to use their skills to build technical bridges, blend technologies, and connect people, data and diverse systems in new ways while adhering to the theme of using technology to solve the world's toughest problems. The goal is to create a ground-breaking application using out-of-the-box Microsoft technologies and technology from different vendors, including free and open source software. Details about the Interoperability Challenge are available here.
According to Owen Linderholm, director of the Microsoft News Center, "The Imagine Cup is a bit like the Olympics, with many different competitions, including Software Design, Game Design, Digital Media, Embedded Development Windows Phone 7 and more. There are also national/regional finals that lead to a worldwide event. Some countries such as Malaysia and Japan have incorporated the Imagine Cup into national technology curricula with participation recognized as contributory toward the award of a college degree."
2011 marks the ninth anniversary for the Imagine Cup. "This year the worldwide finals take place in New York City in July," according to Linderholm. "But in order to get there, American students must either triumph at the Imagine Cup 2011 U.S. Finals for Software Design, which take place in Redmond, Washington, April 8-11, or they can enter at the worldwide level in the other competitions — including Game Design, Embedded Development, Digital Media, Windows Phone 7, Windows Touch, Interoperability, Orchard and IT Challenge. Contestants win cash prizes, but more importantly they win prestige, recognition and a very real step forward in their future career directions."