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Microsoft's Imagine Cup Competition Seeks Diversity

By Diverse Education

July 29, 2011



This year students from six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)--Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, Howard, Tuskegee, and Johnson C. Smith--competed in Microsoft's Imagine Cup, and although none of the teams made it to the finals, the schools plan to send more teams to next year's competition.

Many HBCUs say that science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) participation at their schools is much more popular than generally thought. For example, this year Tuskegee sent 16 teams to the Imagine Cup, mostly due to the efforts of professor Lee Burge, who used Tuskegee's "Ethics in Engineering Course" to introduce students to the competition. Spelman, where about 35 percent of students graduate with a STEM major, sent one team to the Imagine Cup this year. The Spelman team built a project called MToto, a mobile application that tracks a woman's progress during different stages of pregnancy and is designed to address high rates of maternal mortality in rural Kenya.

Spelman professor Jakita Thomas expects the publicity for Spelman's entry to draw more competitors for next year's Imagine Cup. "Next year, participation will double, if not triple," she says.

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