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April 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Arizona State University team wins Imagine Cup U.S. Finals

Team FlashFood, comprising four students from Arizona State University, won first prize in software design today at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup U.S. Finals. That means the team also won a trip to Sydney, Australia to represent the U.S. in the competition’s worldwide finals July 6-10.

The Imagine Cup, now in its 10th year, is Microsoft’s student technology competition. Teams of high school and college students from around the world compete in creating technology solutions to help improve education, healthcare, the environment and other pressing issues.

The win for Team FlashFood — consisting of students Jake Irvin, Eric Lehnhardt, Katelyn Keberle and Steven Hernandez, and faculty adviser Richard Filley — marks the second year in a row that a team from Arizona State University has won the category.

The team came up with a real-time food recovery solution that uses Web applications and smartphones to coordinate food deliveries to people in need. When an organization has food that is about to go to waste — say, food left over from an event — the organization can register that with the system. Volunteers also registered with the system will receive instant notifications and can then arrange to pick up the food and deliver it to shelters, individuals or others who need it. The goal is to avoid food going to waste in local communities.

“We’re able to solve a problem with hunger and food waste that couldn’t have been solved a couple of years ago without the instant digital communication available from the combo of smartphones, websites and mass text messages services,” team captain Eric Lehnhardt said in a statement.

In the U.S., about 113,000 people registered for this year’s competition. Twenty-two teams were chosen for the finals.

Worldwide, it’s not unusual for the Imagine Cup to draw a quarter million registrants each year. Each region’s winner in the software design category advances to the worldwide finals.

In addition, in the U.S., a people’s choice winner — chosen via online voting from the software design and game design categories — will also attend the worldwide finals in Australia. (You can vote for your choice here.)

In addition to Team FlashFood, winners were also announced for the game design-Windows/Xbox category — won by Dr. Fishbowl from Carnegie Mellon University, and the game design-mobile category — won by Drexel Dragons from Drexel University.

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