News & Features » Street Talk (Old)

Microsoft or Bust: Students to Hobnob With Bill Gates


Hollar predicts an encounter a bit like an abbreviated and much friendlier "Apprentice," with Gates in the Donald Trump role. And if the situation presents itself, the team may put to Gates the same proposition it gave doctors at Richmond's Children's Hospital, Hollar says: "We're really good at writing software. What problem do you want us to solve?"

That question helped the technology team of graduate students at Virginia Commonwealth University come up with an idea for PocketDoc, a software application that runs on mobile, handheld devices. It connects doctors with their patients and helps monitor the patients' health care.

The team entered the PocketDoc software in Microsoft's 2006 Imagine Cup competition for innovative software design. The theme for this year's contest: "Imagine a world where technology allows us to live healthier lives."

The VCU team has imagined it well. Last month, Hollar and crew placed first of 450 teams in the national software-design competition, the second year in a row that VCU has won. The prize includes $8,000 and a chance for $25,000 more if the VCU techies win the world final Imagine Cup, which takes place Aug. 6-12 in Dehli, India.

A Microsoft spokesman says Gates previewed all the entries and has requested to meet personally with technology teams from Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Korea and the United States.

Before shaking Gates' hand or traveling to India, Hollar says the team is fine-tuning its PocketDoc. He says the most important thing is that the software could help some kids with asthma or diabetes, for example, by reminding them when to take medication or making it easier to communicate with their doctors.

But if the Microsoft king and philanthropist wants to talk shop, Hollar says, he's ready for anything. "I'm not going to try to go in and sit down with Bill Gates with any type of agenda," he says. S

  • Click here for more News and Features
  • Add a comment