My story is Imagine cup, or how Microsoft makes life brighter

    It all started when I once came to the AppsMafia hackathon and looked into the hall where Dmitry Soshnikov, Microsoft’s technology evangelist, spoke all day.
    Toward the end of the day, he talked about the Imagine cup, a major international technology student competition . From that moment, my life began to change dramatically.

    At that time, I already graduated from university as a student and became a graduate student. When Dmitry talked about this contest, I regretted that I did not know about it before, because now, as it seemed to me, the various “student bonuses” had ended for me. But in fact, everything was just beginning, since graduate students can participate in this competition as well.
    Soon, a team of excellent students from my university was assembled. One of them already had a great project idea, and we decided to come up with this idea at the competition.

    Our project

    The essence of our project is a simpler choice of a resort for travel. Each of us was faced with the fact that on the sites of large tour operators it is necessary to choose from countries of which we do not know anything: neither what kind of prices are there, nor what types of recreation will be available. Calling travel agencies in search of a suitable solution requires a lot of time, since each of them needs to answer a certain number of questions. We decided to combine both of these approaches, and create a service that will ask visitors questions about their preferences on vacation, and as a result, the user will receive a list of resorts that meet the specified criteria.
    The work began to boil. First of all, it was necessary to choose a platform for the implementation of our project. We decided to implement it as a web service, because our choice was on cloud hostingMicrosoft Azure , and C # was chosen as a development language due to its certain advantages. In particular, thanks to ASP.NET technology, you can build a good web service, and it is convenient to write specifically for C # under it. We were also attracted by code portability: we wrote some functional parts as console applications, debugged them, and ported them to ASP.NET.
    The next step was to select a source of data on resorts and the types of recreation available in them, on the basis of which our service should issue. After some searching on the Internet, we came across a special section of .
    At first glance, it looks like our idea, but the difference is that here it is necessary to choose the type of activity from a large list, and after all, visitors can not always know what exactly they want, or what it is called. We want to minimize user actions, give them exactly what they need.
    In order to manage to make a prototype of the application for the first (regional) finale, we decided to do extradition not in resorts, but in a more generalized way - by country. We have collected a database of countries and the types of recreation available in them, as a result, the scheme of our database looked like this:


    a table of resorts (they are the countries in this case), a table of types of recreation, and a table of their correspondence, which also indicates the weight of the match. It is necessary to determine the relevance of a particular country, since in different countries this or that type of recreation is present in different numbers.
    In parallel with the collection of information, the development of the functional part and design was carried out.
    Also at this time, within the framework of the Imagine cup, the online competition “Brain Games” was held, and in the meantime we participated in it.

    Imagine cup regional finals in Moscow

    As a result, by March 19, when there was a regional finale in Moscow, the prototype of our service looked as follows .
    The event itself was organized as always excellent: tea, coffee, cookies, lunch, scheduled start.
    We performed mediocre, did not take the prize, but it was interesting to listen to the performances of other teams.
    It was the first thing that changed my life for the better, because instead of gray winter weekdays, I had bright days of working in a team and developing my service.
    Toward the end, when the jury left to confer, we were entertained by MSP - Microsoft partner students. They told how fun in their community, and called everyone. Having become a graduate student, I heard about this program, but I thought that it was too late for me to participate in it, because it was for students. But when I talked with the guys from MSP, they said that graduate students could participate in it, and that they would gladly accept me in their ranks.
    After some time, I already held an event at my university, supported by MSP, dedicated to Microsoft and what it can give students. And it is unforgettable when you tell interested people about new technologies, organize contests and give gifts from Microsoft.
    This was the second factor that made my life even better, because I became part of a large student community, to which Microsoft provides all kinds of support.
    Participating in competitions from MSP at the same regional finale, I was presented many cool souvenirs, including a game for the XBOX 360. But since I didn’t have this console, I decided for myself that I would definitely get it, and in the same way - winning it in a competition from Microsoft.

    National finals

    A month passed, and the time came for the national Russian final of the Imagine cup, which was held in Moscow. At this event, many interesting things were promised: in addition to the teams themselves, technological speeches, contests, and a tour of the headquarters in which the event was held.
    This event was also great: interesting performances, contests from MSP, and in the end I was surprised. When the participants were awarded for victories in various additional nominations, they said a few words about Brain Games, and that it also has winners in Russia. What was my surprise when it turned out that these winners are me and another guy from my team! We have already forgotten that we participated in this contest. Fortunately, we both were in the hall that day, and received - what would you think? - XBOX 360! That is, I really got it as I decided, having won the competition, I only participated in it even before I made this promise to myself.

    What the Imagine cup gave me

    As a result, thanks to Microsoft and the Imagine cup, my life became brighter, because:
    1. I led the team and together we studied ASP.NET, C #, and put our knowledge into practice.
    2. I became a Microsoft partner student, and now I am part of a large international student community and represent Microsoft at my university: I talk about its technologies and struggle to get DreamSpark Premium.
    3. Won in an international competition and believed in himself.
    Now I follow the events in the Imagine Cup and Microsoft, and plan to re-assemble the team to participate next year.
    This is #myimcupstory, and this is my What's next.

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