Drexel Computer Science Students Claim World Championship at Microsoft Imagine Cup
(L-R) N. Taylor Mullen, Keith Ayers, and Matt Lesnak.
(Photo courtesy of Imagine Cup)
July 17, 2012 — Drexel University computer science graduates Matt Lesnak, Keith Ayers and N. Taylor Mullen claimed a world championship in the Microsoft Imagine Cup technology design competition after their “MathDash” game rose to the top from a field of 106 teams from 75 countries. The group, dubbed team “Drexel Dragons,” won the game design mobile category with a smartphone app that turns learning math concepts into a fun game.
“I am beyond words proud of these students,” said Dr. Frank Lee, an associate teaching professor in the College of Engineering, the co-director of Drexel’s game design program and the Drexel Dragons’ advisor. “This shows that Drexel and the game design program have produced some of the best game design and development students in the world, they have certainly earned all of the accolades they have coming to them.”
In the Worldwide Finals, which were held in Sydney, Australia, the Drexel Dragons edged out teams from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania and Romania in advancing to the finals after day one. In the final round, Drexel’s group claimed the world title over teams from France and Hungary.
The Imagine Cup is considered to be one of the most challenging technology competitions in the computer science community. Overall, more than 300,000 students from around the world participated in the competition this year.
Imagine Cup includes three divisions: software design, game design and IT challenge. An international panel of judges from industry, media and entertainment chose the world champions after a rigorous three-day process.
The Drexel Dragons advanced through two rounds of competition, which began in the winter and culminated with the U.S. Championship in April and the team’s subsequent selection for the Worldwide Finals.
The team claims a prize that includes $8,000 and the opportunity to apply for a startup grant from Microsoft. Additionally, Microsoft will donate $10,000 to Drexel in honor of the team’s victory.
“MathDash,” is a fast-paced game aimed at elementary-aged students, to reinforce math skill. Development of the game was part of the team’s senior design project. The group worked with area schools to field test and design the game and the group members plan to move forward with commercializing the game.
“When they started the project, the goal was to show that you can have a game that is wildly fun and addicting, while at the same time it teaches math to kids in a way the incorporates the best practices of math education,” Lee said. “They were successful in reaching both of their goals and the judges unanimously agreed.”