About Dwayne Samuels
Pushing boundaries and trying to make our world a better place through technology. These are the two things that drive me and make me feel alive every morning I wake. It wasn't always like this. Around the age of 6 after reading a few books on archaeology I wanted with all my heart to be an archaeologist. I loved rocks and fossils. After school and on summer holidays I spent hours collecting them. That all changed when I first used a computer at the age of 9. Nothing else mattered. It opened gateways and I realized that through this device I could virtually create anything I imagined.
At 14 I created my first website. Thinking back, it looked pretty horrible comparing to todays standards but back then all I wanted was something that worked. At school I'd spend all my lunch time scouring the web for technology blogs, web tutorials and flash games and when I got home I would get scolded for spending too much time around the computer. I started my first 'company' selling CD's with video games (Game Boy Advance Emulator & ROMs) I downloaded to students at my school. To stop people from copying the CD's I put an auto run popup alert when the CD was inserted to say users ran the risk of crashing their computers if they made copies of the disk. This made lots of persons buy our CD's. I had over 80 different games and the demand for burning them was high so I partnered up with a friend, Devon Sutherland, who helped out with burning the disks. This was a good source of income which I used to get books I always wanted and helped out as pocket money in the States.
I would spend so much time in the computer lab and the Lab Technician, Hans Stephens, taught me how to make better websites and taught me how to use basic C++. My path was set. I wanted to not only create applications for creating sake. I wanted to create world class applications that millions use and have a team, comprised of individuals who had the same drive and goals. How could I make this happen?
The Imagine Cup
In 2005 I read an article about students from the Northern Caribbean University qualifying for a technology competition in Japan called the Imagine Cup. It got me really excited and I wanted to meet these students and their mentor. At this point I didn't know how but I knew I wanted to. After high school I applied to Northern Caribbean University to study Computer Information Science. About a year later I met Romaine Carter a member of the first Imagine Cup team. We met under a gazebo on the campus where he was designing the database for the Imagine Cup project of 2008. It was amazing talking to someone I've always wanted to meet. I made an effort to be around him and his team whenever they were working and gave input on various things. In being around them I quickly learned what working with a team is like and the process of qualifying for the Imagine Cup at the local and regional level. Unfortunately Romain's team didn't qualify for the world finals.
That very year, 2008, Shawn Mclean and I entered the Imagine Cup category 'Interface Design'. I met Shawn in 2007. I was having trouble with an algorithm for a programming class and asked for some help which he gave and helped me understand how it work. From then I knew he was a genius. We met again shortly after when he was late on an assignment which I almost completed, I didn't think twice to help out. From then we started talking about technology and the roles we'd like to play in the future. We had similar thoughts so we started hanging out more as we learned a lot from each other. With our mentor, Halzen Smith, we made this Interface we called, 'W²FE' (Wind, Water, Fire & Earth) which was like a network of interconnected tubes that would transport users to different pods based on what they clicked. We submitted the design but didn’t even make it through the first round but we just laughed it off. We later showcase the UI at a local science competition.
After tasting what the Imagine Cup experience was like we decided to take it more seriously and added two more team mates, Derron Brown and Trevoir Williams, to enter the software design category in 2009. The team of 2007, ICAD, had tremendous success in placing third in the world in Korea and afterwards got placed in an ‘incubator’ on our campus. I would spend hours talking to these guys and found out what made them successful. Determination. We built an application called RAIN which was geared towards helping farmers operate more efficiently and won the local, regional and Latin American categories to make it for the world finals in Cairo, Egypt. It was a dream come through. All we wanted that year was to prove that we could make it to the world finals but yet still we presented our hearts out but didn’t place. A bit disheartened, we mustered up courage and decided to enter the following year.
In 2010 the team comprising of Shawn Mclean, Derron Brown, Markel Mairs and myself entered the Imagine Cup once more with the web app Xormis, which was made to aid persons and companies with distribution resources properly. We went up against 94 teams across the world and placed first.