CSE Students Place First in Microsoft Programming Contest

January 5, 2002

For the second time in two years University of Minnesota students have placed first in a Microsoft Programming contest. Undergraduates Saeed Ahkter and Moe Khosravy won the top honors in the 2001 Microsoft .NET Best Student Awards 2001.

Students in North American colleges and universities were invited to submit proposals for XML Web services built for the Microsoft .NET Platform. In December close to 100 semifinalists were chosen to create the services that were proposed and compete in the finals. The contest judges: Microsoft developers, faculty, and industry professionals, chose the top three winners. The entry from Ahkter and Khosravy edged out all other entries, including some submitted by graduate students.

The winning entry, RenderFarm.NET, is a Web service that processes and renders high-resolution 3D scenes and animation sequences into a variety of image file formats and movies. It accepts 3D data in the form of XML and returns a URL specifying the address of the finished product, which can then be downloaded by the user to virtually any PC, cellular phone, or PDA. The usefulness of the application lies in the fact that there are many scenes that can simply not be rendered on normal workstations. Saeed Ahkter is a senior Computer Science major. He is a former Microsoft Software Development Engineer Intern (2001). He specializes in web related technologies and is currently an independent .NET web application developer for the Carlson School of Management at the U of MN. Saeed was interviewed for the Fall/Winter 2000 SoundByte.


Moe Khosravy is a junior in neuroscience in the College of Biological Sciences. However, he plans to switch formally to computer science this fall, and also keep an organic chemistry major. He is a cofounder of CodeBlazer Technologies, a multimedia software development company that the University spun off to the founders and investors. Moe specializes in 3D and multimedia application development with a passion for entertainment technologies. He is currently consulting on a .NET project for the Carlson School of Management.

Saeed and Moe each won $15,000 as first place winners. Microsoft also gave the University of Minnesota scholarship fund $15,000. Each team member was awarded a trip to Tech.Ed 2002 in New Orleans in April. RenderFarm.NET also won the People's Choice award for overall best solution, voted on by all of the contestants. The prize was an Xbox game system and games.

The International .NET competition includes corporations. RenderFarm .NET was automatically entered in the international competition as winner of the North American (Academic) contest. The winner will be announced at Microsoft's Fusion 2002 on July 11. If RenderFarm.NET wins again, the University will receive $100,000 and Moe and Saeed will receive a smaller amount. They have continued development on the application since the version that won in April and now have a much faster program.

Moe and Saeed plan to market RenderFarm.NET. Several companies have expressed interest. For more information see http://www.renderfarm3d.com.


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