Posted on July 21, 2013

The all-female student team from Qatar University (QU) reflected on the experience representing Qatar in the international finals of Microsoft’s prestigious student technology competition the Imagine Cup.

Team Q-Spark was selected to take part in the four days of finals held in St Petersburg, Russia from 9th-12th July, after successfully making it through grueling regional rounds. The team members - third-year Computer Science students Latifa Talal al-Naimi, Amna Khalid al-Kaabi and Rahma Saleh Ali, along with third-year Computer Engineering student Mariam Ali Ba Hameish – worked hard to promote their project Artouch to judges and other participants from 87 teams representing 71 countries in the finals. Their idea used the latest Microsoft technology to create a 3D modeling system which enables museum visitors to virtually touch and feel museum artefacts which would usually be off-limits. The concept could also be used to benefit visually-impaired visitors.

While the QU team was not one of the final prize-winners, they did receive very positive feedback from their project and enjoyed the opportunity to talk with other students and technology experts from across the world. Mariam Ali Ba Hameish said: “I had a great time in the Imagine Cup; meeting new friends from different countries, learning new things and being challenged.We got an awesome opportunity to have a memorable experience.”

Team-mate Rahma Ali thanked all those who supported the team through to the finals, and added: “The Imagine Cup was a once-in-a lifetime experience and I honestly believe that even though we didn't win, making it to the finals was totally worth it. I am very glad we got the opportunity to meet so many brilliant students and see so many great projects. The judges found our idea to be very interesting and that was a nice feedback.

“Most people were also impressed with the fact that we were all girls working in technology. I would highly recommend others to take part in the Imagine Cup in the future.”

Team mentor and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at QU Dr Osama Halabi said: “The experience of attending the mighty student competition, the Imagine Cup, has been unforgettable.We had the chance to meet the smartest students from all over the world and see many innovative ideas and brilliant projects that might shape our future. Team QSpark did an excellent job in both their presentation and their hands-on demonstration of the project - the judges were really interested in their idea and asked many questions.

“It was a great experience for the students to have the chance to present and demonstrate their project to the judges and an international audience who showed huge interest in the idea.  I am proud of their achievements, given the fact that they are still in their third year and that they were competing with the best students globally.

“It has been an honor to represent Qatar and Qatar University for the second time in such a prestigious competition and it is great to see the students so motivated and working hard in an activity outside of their classroom to achieve their dreams.”

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