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August 11, 2006

Forza L'Italia

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:58 AM

The Italians seem to have a lock on anything ending in "cup" this year. First, the Azzurri took the World Cup. And now, Team Italy won Microsoft's Imagine Cup. ... OK, that's a slightly lesser prize, but we say "congratulazioni" just the same.

Team Italy beat the field of student teams representing 42 countries in the software design competition to take home $25,000 in cash. The Brazilian team, featured in our story on the Imagine Cup, came in second. The American entrants, from Virginia Commonwealth University, placed in the top 12.

The contest focused on technology that enables better health. The Italians offered a device called Hello World, designed to improve communication between patients and doctors. Specifically, it's aimed at identifying the context in which psycho-physiological symptoms were experienced by the patient. The goal is to improve diagnoses of disorders such as anxiety.

The results of the contest offer an opportunity to think about the state of math and science education in the United States, especially since Bill Gates says the Imagine Cup participants "represent the next generation of business and technology leaders."

Here's a rundown of the top three finishers in each category of the competition:

Software design -- Italy, Brazil, Norway;
Algorithm -- Poland, Poland, Poland;
IT -- Austria, Romania, France;
Short Film -- Canada, Poland, USA (at least we were on the podium once);
Interface Design -- Brazil, China, India;
Programming battle -- France, Republic of Serbia, France.

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