MIS Laboratory Imagine Cup Web Page
This section of MIS Laboratory is a resource for student and mentor Imagine Cup participants
US Imagine Cup Competition Resources
Books on Giving Great Presentations
Questions the Judges Asked at the US Finals During Q&A
Mentor's Guide to the Imagine Cup
A Student's PR Guide to the Imagine Cup
US Imagine Cup Website
Imagine Cup Competitor's Overview
How to Create a Great Tech Project
Imagine Cup World Wide Finals Resources Details
Many insurance plans have some form of coverage for subscribers who are travelling to international destinations. Please call your insurance company and know what is covered and what you need to do in the event of an injury or illness. In the event you feel your regular coverage is inadequate, you may want to purchase travel / medical insurance. For US students travelling to Australia insurance packages can typically run from $75 - $200 depending on the carrier, cost of tickets, and type of coverage. One "platinum" plan I've looked at covers $50K medical, hotel if flight gets delayed, lost baggage up to $2,500, emergency dental, etc. Some plans required a two-week waiting period so if you think you'd like some addtional peace of mind, don't delay. Microsoft does not recommend any insurance carrier, but an Internet seach will turn up lots of different companies that are associated with names/brands that you recognize.
Equipment in the Showcase
In order to guard the fairness and integrity of the
competitions at the Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Microsoft will offer the same
set of benefits, services, and rules for each team within each competition and
in the Showcase. More specifically: One physical work station area will be
provided for each Software Design, Game Design, Embedded Development and Digital
Media team in the Showcase to set up their equipment (dimensions of this space
are approximately 150x50cm). One VGA monitor per team will be provided in the
showcase. Note that Digital Media will also have a separate assigned room with
additional workspace outside of the Showcase. XBox/PC Game teams should bring
their own sound amplifiers and speakers with appropriate Xbox and/or PC
adapters. Make sure the speaker power adapter is dual
Power adaptors will be provided based on previous requests made in the competitor surveys. Note that power in Australa is 240V/50Hz and uses a “Type-I AS 3112 ” connector. It is highly suggested that each team bring several of their own adapters and power strips as explained in the "Electric Voltage and Power Conversion" section above.
Audio, Video and Network configuration services will be provided to help each team configure their presentation equipment both for the Showcase and in the Judging Rooms.
Equipment in the Competition Presentation Judging Rooms
Each team in Software Design will be responsible for providing
its own computer(s) for the competition, but one back-up desktop machine can be
provided if the team can prove that their own machine has failed and they need a
Each team in Embedded Development, Game Design and Digital Media will have some computers and necessary auxiliary equipment provided (e.g.: for Digital Media this will include (1) Flip video camera with a desktop computer to act as a video editing workstation).
Judging Rooms for Software Design, Embedded Development and Game Design presentations will be equipped with:
(1) 180cm x 70cm table
(2) 42” flat screen monitors, each with a 4-input KVM switch for accommodating multiple sources
(3) Network connections as necessary (wired and wireless)
Note: these judging rooms are typically smaller suites at the convention center. Teams will have about 20 minutes to set up before their presentation, and will not have access to these rooms in any way prior to their competition time slot. Be prepared! Have a back up plan and back up equipment and lots of different cables and adapters.
A Survey will be sent to Finalist teams shortly after 1 June in order to assess the equipment the teams will be bringing to the finals. Requests for power adapters will be part of this survey. The basic rule of thumb for bringing competition equipment into and out of Australia is that students should consider the equipment as “personally owned” and that it will not be given or sold while in Australia – the items that you bring into the country will also be with you when you leave the country. Therefore there is no need for you to declare customs on this and you can proceed through the "nothing to declare" line. For any equipment or valuables above that of a laptop, we recommend that they carry original receipts if available, but not necessary.
Any equipment outside of these baseline provisions will be up to the competitors to procure, deliver to Sydney, etc. We do have some contacts that could help them with that process but the responsibility is completely up to the teams.
Weather and Clothing Considerations
For the past couple of years, the Imagine Cup World Finals have been held in Seattle (and probably will be for the foreseeable future). Seattle is rainy a lot of the year, and it rains frequently in summer as well, but it may be hot. Fortunately the Pacific Ocean moderate the temperature so it will be rare for the temperatures to go higher than 85F/30C and even when cloudy or rainy it won't be very cold. So dress for cool summer but bring a light jacket in case of rain. Shorts are very popular in Seattle year round, so make sure to bring a couple of pairs if that is your usual casual outfit.
All students on a team should have a similar appearance. You do not need to match exactly, but extreme deviations between team members should be avoided. Teams may wear the Imagine Cup shirts that will be provided by your US Microsoft sponsors, matching school shirts with tan slacks, or more formal dark slacks/skirts with collared shirts & ties, jackets, or any other conservative clothing the team deems appropriate. Comfort and avoiding an appearance that distracts the judge's attention away from your technology presentation are the priority. Some teams have worm their team tee-shirts for Round One, school logo shirts for Round Two, and business suits for Round Three.
The Showcase is an exhibit hall type venue similar to a Science Fair with each team having a booth. Dignitaries, media and event guests will wander the Showcase to view the different projects. Members of the Microsoft PR team and other media outlets such as television and Internet news outlets may have cameras and sound equipment and want to talk to you (students) about their projects. That being said, student clothing should be clean, neat (not wrinkled!) and similar, but can be comfortably casual.
Cultural Event Clothing
On Tuesday, July 6th there will be a variety of off-venue cultural tours for attendees visiting places of historical or cultural interest. These tours will consist of bus rides and lots of walking. There is also the potential for a harbour, river or lake-type excursion. Attendees should dress comfortably, but with particular attention to comfortable shoes. A hat to keep the sun off is a good idea, as is a windbreaker in case of rain. A small backpack to keep personal items together and to carry water is a great idea. A small collapsible umbrella is also a good idea.
Closing Ceremony Clothing
The Closing/Awards ceremony is the highlight of the Imagine Cup, and lasts between two and three hours (think Academy Awards night). There will be several speeches, some kind of cultural show, and a video summary of the event. Winners will be invited on stage to receive trophies and giant prize money "checks", and have pictures taken. That being said, students will either wear their country's team shirts or something a bit dressier. Unlike the closing ceremony in Cairo that was held outdoors in the desert, Imagine Cup 2012 closing ceremony will be in a formal theatre-type venue, which suggests a slightly more formal appearance might be in order for finalists. Most of the US finalist teams last year wore business formal attire (suits and jackets). Students that know they are not winning awards (because you didn't advance) can dress casually, but since there will be lots of press, and probably a showcase, you should wear your team shirts at least.
Post Award Ceremony Party
After the awards ceremony there will be party back at the hotel that will last until about 1am. This is very casual and there is some food, drink and music. Last year there was a DJ playing electronic/club music and the US team got the party started with some dancing that eventually got everyone out there having a good time. Wear whatever you like!
How to Pack
Only pack items into your checked-bag that are non-essential to your competition. Baggage does get lost, and at least one team each year is unable to compete because their project hardware was lost by the airline. Clothing, toiletries and other generic/easily-replaceable items are the rule. Computers, project hardware and essential software (and backups) should be carried on board the plane with you.
Checked Baggage: Unless you are a frequent flier, for international travel you will be restricted to one piece of checked luggage that cannot exceed fifty pounds in weight. This is easy to exceed if you over-plan for contingencies. Overweight or excess baggage charges are very high $100 - $200 (United Airlines example used). Even within the 50lb weight restriction, fitting all your stuff into your bag can also be a challenge. Domestic travellers are at the mercy of whatever airline Microsoft booked your flight with. If you are travelling with Southwest Airlines, you'll get two free bags. Other airlines will charge you for checking a bag, which Microsoft will expect you to pay for (they give you a gift card for out of pocket expenses but don't count on the airline accepting it. Here are some packing tips:
Tightly roll your shirts and pants individually. Rubber bands can help keep rolled items tight. Start at the bottom wedging them in between the internal metal bars into which the extension handle retracts. Hard soled shoes can go in here too if they fit but keep them near the bottom with the soles against the side of the suitcase (to keep the bottoms of the shoes from getting your clothes dirty)
Put any hard items in next i.e.: toiletries, routers, power bricks, power strips, etc. Orient heaviest items so they are at the "bottom" of the suitcase when it is in the "rolled" upright position.
Stuff your socks into your shoes. This keeps the toes of the shoes from being smashed and fills up an otherwise unused void.
The top-most layer can be unrolled items you don't want to get wrinkled i.e.: suit jacket and trousers, but put a soft top layer on top of those like a sweatshirt to protect against a dirt and tearing if the zipper fails on your suitcase or the suitcase fabric gets punctured.
Carry-on Luggage: Put at least one change of clothes and two changes of underwear in your carry-on bag. Also a small zip-lock bag with your essential toiletries (keep sizes under the 3oz limit). If you miss a connection and get delayed for any extended period of time, or the airline loses your luggage, you'll be glad you've got something to change into. A comfortable hoodie sweatshirt would be nice too. I would put any essential project hardware (like Xbox controllers, your ebox, and your 240v power adapter and power strip in there as well. Then fill it with some of the loose stuff from your other suitcase to reduce its weight if necessary.
Carry-on Backpack: Here is my list:
Spare computer battery (nobody make a battery that lasts 12+ hours!)
Computer Power brick
Essential tech accessories: cell phone charger, USB cable, 7ft Ethernet cable
Pack of baby wipes
toothbrush (no paste; don't want security to have an issue)
Black pens (necessary for filling out customs forms on the plane both upon arrival in Australia and upon returning to the US)
Passport and Passport card (and Trustred Traveller card if you have one)
One or two paper-back books (1 book = 6-8 hours of reading). I tend to sleep more on the way back due to being exhausted from the event. So I bring a third in my carry-on bag.
Headphones/Headset: now is when you want to rock those sweet noise-cancelling ones (don't forget the spare batteries for them!)
Bring a back-packing pillow (Slumberjack is a personal preference). It is more versatile than a "neck donut" and compresses really small to fit in your backpack. I actually bring both for International travel
Soft foam earplugs: Get from Wal-Mart for a couple of bucks (get the super soft ones). Great for blocking out airplane noise, crying babies, the guy snoring next to you, awful in-flight movie, etc. especially when you are trying to get a couple hours sleep.
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