Sulaimani, Iraq - Apr. 18, 2011 – In an impressive display of IT skills, creativity and implementation, two out of the four teams from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani participating in the 2011 Imagine Cup Kurdistan took the top two spots in the competition, with the first-place team earning a chance to compete in the Worldwide Finals taking place in New York City this summer. 24 teams from universities across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, four of which were composed of AUIS Information Systems and Technology students, had to develop software addressing one of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The first-place team, named Team Hawk, designed an application for smartphones that helps NGOs and governments register and store data about refugees. Kosar Osman Mohamed, from Sulaimani, Enji Issa Zain-Alabdeen, from Kirkuk, and Choman Jalal Mustafa, from Sulaimani, will now represent the Kurdistan Region of Iraq at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in New York July 8-13, 2011.
“I’m very excited to represent the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and to show the whole world that there are many talented programmers here,” said Mr. Osman Mohamed, a 23-year old IST major. “We hope that our application, which makes it faster and easier to collect refugee data, will help refugees all around the world, and initially in Namibia, where one of our professors has been doing some work already.”
“This competition was a great chance for students from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to show their abilities in software development,” said Ms. Issa, also a 23-year old IST major. “There are a lot of skilled developers around here, we just need someone to come and discover us.”
Team Wireless Minds, also from AUIS, finished second in Erbil for its photo dictionary application aimed at helping children learn English. Yad Faiq, Petra Bahaddin Omer and Razhan Dara, all from Sulaimani, made up this team.
“Taking first and second place in a competition of more than 20 teams speaks so highly for the students and for the University,” said Dr. Roger Geyer, assistant professor of computer science at AUIS and one of the mentors who accompanied the student teams to Erbil. “It validates all of the students’ hard work over the last three years and what we are doing at AUIS.”
Imagine Cup Kurdistan was organized jointly by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of IT and Microsoft, the sponsor of the worldwide competition. Imagine Cup hopes to bring together IT students from around the world to help resolve some of the planet’s toughest challenges through the use of innovative technological applications.
“All the professors are extremely proud of the student teams for the effort they put into the competition,” said Dr. David Cook, professor of information technology and another faculty mentor. “With limited lead time, the preparation was hectic, but the students managed to pull things together in time.”
Iraqi media covered the competition and the AUIS team’s victory extensively, with numerous print and TV reports about Team Hawks representing the region in New York. Members of the AUIS teams were interviewed for a regional TV technology show, and the English-language Kurdish Globe ran a front-page article about the competition.
Looking to the Worldwide Finals in New York, the students and faculty are both excited and optimistic.
“We stand a good chance in New York,” explained Mr. Osman, who will be visiting the United States for the first time. “We plan to develop this application further in time for the summer competition. We will test the usability of the application soon by going to a refugee camp near Sulaimani.”
“I can’t wait to see what happens in New York,” admitted Dr. Geyer. “I think we have a real chance at winning the whole thing.”
Microsoft created the Imagine Cup nine years ago with the idea that “students can and will change the world,” according to the competition’s official Web site. This year’s was the first Imagine Cup held anywhere in Iraq, and the AUIS teams’ impressive performance points to the students’ talent and the benefits of a liberal arts education.
“AUIS can point proudly to our student finalists and say, there is the justification for our unique approach to higher education,” commented Dr. Cook, who will head to New York with the three students in July.
“This was as much an ideas competition as it was a software design competition, and I think the outcome speaks very highly of our strong English language program, our broad-based curriculum and our IT program,” concluded Dr. Geyer.
After having completed the common two-year Core Program, AUIS undergraduate students can choose between five majors currently offered: Business Administration, International Studies, Engineering, Environmental Science and Information Systems and Technologies.
For more information:
Kyle Long, AUIS Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, +964 0770 461 5385