Microsoft Imagine Cup winners are Novices at Work

Paras Doshi, Veenit Mavani, Saili Dharia,Krunal Dedhia and Bhavik Vora from Vivekananda Education Society’s Institute of Technology(VESIT) called themselves ‘Novices at Work’ when they unveiled their masterpiece Kalpavriksha’ at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008,Bangalore.

As their fate had it, the underdogs emerged triumphant at the software development contest of the Micrsoft Imagine Cup India finals and are all geared up to head to Paris this July for the World finale of the same Contest. We get up close with them and get it right from the geek’s mouth.

  • How does it feel, after winning IC India, in the Software design Competition?

VM: It feels great especially since we had been there last year and we knew we could pull it off this time. We felt we were a bit under prepared last time, however we did our homework this time and made sure we dint leave any stone unturned.

SD: It feels like im almost on the top of the world;Ill be there when we get to france!! But,seriously, its an amazing feeling and i sincerely wish we cross a milestone in france too.

PD: From the moment our team’s name was announced by Mr. Ravi Venkatesan (Chairman MSFT India) till today, I have been reminding myself that this is not a dream.

  • What got u guys geared up for IC?

VM: This year’s theme environment seemed extremely challenging and it seemed our only way to payback to mother nature for all the atrocities that we do/commit and besides it was more about finishing the job we that we left half way last year.

PD: VESIT’s R&D lab has been working on development of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) for the past two year. For creating sustainable environment, constant monitoring of climatic parameters is imperative. Here’s where WSNs play an important role. So basically we were geared up for the theme even before it was announced.

  • What made u team up together? Elaborate each individuals exclusivity

PD: To win IC one needs a team with great variety in talents. Ours is one such team. We call SD as PR GURU. She is amazing at handling corporate level presentations. By the way she’s already placed in Microsoft(MSFT). KD has a knack of working with MSFT technologies. VM is great at CS intricacies and coding. I have been working on integration of WSNs with .NET technology for quite sometime.

SD: Well, we all have our traits but work perfectly as a team. Krunal’s extremely resourceful and knowledgeable, Paras is hell bent on finishing something once its begun, Veenit can get things done faster than you can blink..So, All of us coming together for IC was just a equation that fit perfectly.

  • Tell us something about your project and how is it in line with the MS sentiment of exploring your own creativity by creating software design solutions that enable a sustainable environment.

    PD: Our project ‘Kalpavriksha’ is a decision support system for precision agriculture. It breaks the conventional approach of considering farm lands as homogeneous. Instead we divide the whole land into smaller site to perform site specific crop management. We employ WSN to monitor the in-field variability of the soil and climatic parameters. Based on the collected sensor data, our application tries to optimize the utilization of agro-resources. Our main aim is to make sure that each site produces maximum yield. Agriculture has faced a major setback because of low yield and Kalpavriksha tries to solve it. This is how our solution adheres to IC’s theme.

  • What was it like to present in front of stalwarts from GE, IIMa, NASSCOm etc ? What was your strategy?
    Its an honor to present in front of eminent personalities however the experience was worth taking the effort. Their thought process was way superior, as they delved into the intricacies of the system as if devouring each part of it and then cross questioning to test the knowledge of the presenter.

    SD: Well, its was intimidating to present in front of such knowledgeable people but they were perfect listeners and caught on to every word that was said. Their questions were also engineered with an outlook that was different from most people.

  • Did you guys get a pat on the back from any venture capitalist? What are the future prospects of this project?

VM: We did get encouragement via the panelists on stage. However R. K Misra showed keen interest in out project. He has an ongoing project called ‘change India’ and feels that out project fits in line with it. We will be contacting him soon. Moreover we also will be getting training from IIMA’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship regarding A-Z of incubation of projects and entrepreneurship. We are eagerly looking forward to it although it clashes with our Univ exams, we are ready to take on the challenge and make the most of the opportunity provided to us by Microsoft.

PD: Mr. Misra was really interested in our project. His speech inspires us to complete this project from a prototype to a complete system.

· Gyaan for the kids: ?who can goto IC

BV: Imagine cup is for those who can think creatively. Also it not only inspires u but also helps you to realise your potential by bringing the best out of you. Imagine cup is where talent meets innovation. IC is all around a theme that is a real problem. Its not a theme actually (but a real world problem).

SD: Imagine cup is all about the right mix of passion and dedication. You think your innovation can be implemented, then get out there and show everybody. Its all about making this world a better place using your innovative thoughts. So, your imagination->your implementation

KD: Imagine cup is, as(the) name suggest more of imagination and innovation. You need to take a step further to think above all (the) solutions available and proceed. It can be perceived as finding out new (a) solution or looking (at an) old solution in a new way and bettering it.

VM: Anybody who has passion for technology and thinks he has got in him what it takes to compete with the most innovative minds in the world can take part in the competition. All one needs is, to come up with a wacky idea in congruence with the theme and then build on it using Microsoft technologies.

· How was it to have a fellow batchmate(Bhavik Vora) to mentor the team?

SD: Bhavik’s been a constant supporter and helped us out of many rough areas. He’s really creative and has always been more confident about our team than we could ever be.

VM: Although quite a few people think that mentor should be some one older , however we feel a ,mentor is someone who can lead us and guide us. Bhavik did exactly that. He always kept on adding bits and pieces to our project idea trying to make it complete on all fronts. Moreover another advantage one has with a mentor of the same age is that there is zero communication barrier and hence easy flow of ideas and guidance.

KD: A mentor is friend at first place and Bhavik was really (the) one we needed. He has knowledge , brains (and he) knew us through .We couldn’t have expected more or given out more without him.

· Bhavik, tell us about your last years stint at IC that eventually got you placed at Microsoft.

BV: Well, the (top) ten teams were going be interviewed for the intership. I got through the tele-interview and had done an internship of 6 weeks. Well after that it was a cakewalk. The interview for recruitment was a formality.