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By Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Education

 

During Microsoft's recent global skills announcements, it was shared that over 149M new jobs will be created in technology over the next 5 years. While this shows the immediate need to upskill and reskill on technology to fuel economic growth and talent pipeline, the question remains - how we can ensure a more sustainable solution for many years to come?

 

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every student on the planet to achieve more. Connected to this mission, Microsoft continues to work hard to spark student interest in STEM and Computer Science and prepare them for a path where technology is a core subject area connected to success in every role in the future.  That’s why I'm excited to share today’s launch of Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge 2021. This is the second year we’ve run this challenge for secondary students, inviting young and talented minds to come up with ideas to make their world a better place with the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In our inaugural year we celebrated 9 winning teams from the hundreds of students across 23 countries who took part, and I was amazed by the imagination of students, the quality of their ideas and submissions.

 

Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge brings new skills to students across all subject areas regardless of their experience in technology. No longer is technology a separate discipline but rather a foundational capability that will enhance every students’ future opportunities, no matter what job role they pursue in their future.  Students aged 13 to 18 can take part, individually or in teams up to 6, by developing an AI concept based on Microsoft’s AI for Good initiatives. These include AI for Humanitarian Action, AI for Earth, AI for Cultural Heritage, AI for Accessibility and new to our 2021 challenge, AI for Health.

 

While it’s been a challenging year with remote and blended learning becoming a part of many school days for students, we have introduced a number of new elements to Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge to increase the opportunity for all students to participate including webinars, hackathons and a beginners kit. To get started, educators need to register at https://imaginecup.com/junior which will provide access to the Imagine Cup Junior resource kit which includes:

 

  • Imagine Cup Junior for Beginners Kit - five 45-minute lessons that will prepare students for their challenge submission
  • Educator guides, student guides, and slides for the following modules for those who would like to take learning further:
    • Imagine Cup Junior for Beginners
    • Fundamentals of AI
    • Machine Learning
    • Applications of AI in real life
    • Deep learning and neural networks
    • AI for Good
  • Build your Project in a Day hackathon kit with videos from members of Microsoft’s Education, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud teams. This can be used in class to inspire students and coach them on how to get started, and perhaps even spark excitement to one day work in the field of AI
  • Engagement plans for educators on how they can embed the learning within their curriculum
  • Access to a series of AI webinars throughout the challenge and regional virtual hackathons for students to build out their projects live

 

Plus lots more, including challenges using Azure, Minecraft: Education Edition, and social kits and templates to celebrate taking part.

 

We are also empowering parents and guardians to register and submit on behalf of students in the event that learning from home continues, and the webinar and hackathon series will provide inspirational and exciting learning opportunities for students both at home or in school. 

 

Registration opens today and will close May 21 2021. To ensure the privacy of students, all submissions must be made by educators/instructors/parents/guardians on behalf of their students. While we can’t wait to see ALL the amazing ideas of students around the world, Microsoft will be proud to recognize the top ten ideas globally and recognize their achievement with an Imagine Cup Junior trophy.

 

Challenge rules and regulations can be found here.

 

It is never too early to get started, and we hope by cultivating student creativity and passion for technology it will spark interest in and support the development of careers at the cutting edge of technology.

 

Register today at https://imaginecup.com/junior and empower students to truly change the world. I can’t wait to see their innovation and ideas to help positively change the world!