IT Sligo team win gold at Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals

A team of students from IT Sligo, which includes Ballyfarnon’s James McNamara, have won the first prize in the lead category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals.

A team of students from IT Sligo, which includes Ballyfarnon’s James McNamara, have won the first prize in the lead category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition, honouring student innovations that address global problems such as improving road and fire safety, eradicating poverty, and creating a more sustainable environment.

The ninth Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 competition winners were announced on Wednesday night, July 13, at the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.

Team Hermes from IT Sligo took home top honours in the Software Design competition – the lead category in the competition. The team designed a device that plugs into a car and monitors dangerous driving behaviour and road conditions, providing instant feedback to both the driver and the car owner.

The team’s solution uses embedded technology, Windows Phone 7, Bing Maps and the Windows Azure cloud computing platform to change driving habits and reduce road deaths, which impact a significant number of young lives each year. With its victory, the team won $25,000.

The team comprise Aíne Conaghan from Ballybofey, Donegal, James McNamara from Ballyfarnon, Co Roscommon, Calum Cawley from Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo, and Matthew Padden from Ballina, Co Mayo. Their team mentor is Padraig Harte, a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems.

“We have a problem in Ireland; that problem is deaths on our roads,” said Team Hermes member James McNamara. “Thanks to Microsoft and the Imagine Cup, we’ve been able to come together to solve this problem and save lives.”

President of IT Sligo, Professor Terri Scott, said, “This is a remarkable achievement by Team Hermes. They are true ambassadors for IT Sligo, and for Ireland.

“An innovative idea, hard work and self-belief have earned them a well-deserved place on the world stage and we look forward to welcoming them back to IT Sligo.”

Microsoft Imagine Cup teams will be eligible to apply for grants that include a combination of cash, software, training, consulting and other support. Microsoft will announce details about the grant programme and application process later this summer.

Senators Michael Comiskey, Susan O’Keeffe and Marc McSharry, and Deputy Frank Feighan all congratulated the team of students on their success.