Went to Reading today. Spent a bit less time there than I planned, thanks to slow running trains. I was there for a meeting about the Imagine Cup. They had some student teams presenting UK projects and the Microsoft UK academic team, along with Joe Wilson, who heads up the contest.
The students did a couple of presentations and were then subjected to what we call the “Imagine Cup Grilling”. This is where we look at what they have done and suggest ways it could be made better. I was very even handed, in that by the end I think I had managed to offend everybody in the room, at which point I left to catch my train home. Settling down in my seat I was chatting to a lady next to me who was most upset that she had just had to pay 84 pounds just to get back to Nottingham. I responded, rather wittily I thought, by saying that I’d pay that amount just to get out of Nottingham. I’ve really no idea why I said it. I’ve nothing against the place really, and it didn’t go down too well. (actually, I think anyone who knows me can readily imagine me doing this. Oh well. I think I’m too old to change now.)
Anyhoo, the meeting was very interesting. Microsoft’s continuing commitment to the competition is very commendable, particularly in the face of present economic conditions. I think at the bottom line they recognise that the kind of people who enter the Imagine Cup are the future, and engagement with them is a good thing. I told the students that just taking part in the competition and surviving a grilling makes them better professionals and adds a huge amount of value to them as potential employees. I really think this is true, and perhaps the best reason for anyone to enter the competition.