National Public Radio (NPR) Broadcast

National Public Radio’s Insight interview about Project: Mobilife, the Imagine Cup, and inspirations in my research.  To listen, click here.

Broadcast aired: June 21, 2010

Host: Jeffrey Callison

Program: National Public Radio – Insight – a daily, in-depth interview program hosted by Capital Public Radio’s Jeffrey Callison, providing context and background to the issues that face the Sacramento region.


TEDxMidwest 2011


The power of one. To make us think, laugh, understand.

To spark an idea, a commitment, a friendship.

To make a real difference.

Stories of fear, love, good, evil, adventure, invention, justice, distruption, violence, redemption, energy, music, generosity, exploration, vision, future, art, technology, and possibility.

The power of one in each of us.

The power of ones together. TEDxMIDWEST 2011.

Surrounded by 500+ CEOs/Founders/Politicians/Thought leaders – over the past few days, I learned a lot. I took lessons from the stories of courage, and the making of heroes. Alexis Ohanian (Founder of Reddit) taught me a thing or two about how to make the world “suck less” (very different than making it a “better place”). It is a magical moment when you’re able to sit down with the geniuses of our generation over dinner. Feeling inspired.


Bags are packed! October 10-16, 2011, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) will bring the world’s top speakers together with Chicago’s best thinkers to create an ecosystem of innovation, exploration, and intellectual recreation. I finally got around to reading through exactly what the event was about – feeling immensely honored that Helena Xu, Jason Wakizaka, Tristan Gibeau, Cy Khormaee, and I were invited to speak at a MEGATALK.

CIW MEGATALKS are evening programs featuring distinguished and globally recognized speakers. Cy Khormaee and I will be representing Lifelens in the Technology and Web session. Excited to meet some of the other speakers!


Forever Grateful

Today, I finished my MS degree. Though it might not seem like anything for many people, it is very much the end of a chapter for my life. Below is an excerpt from my thesis, because I honestly could not have done it alone. This one goes out to you.

Though words could never express the thanks that is deserved, my deepest gratitude goes to Dr. Anthony Cheung for teaching me how to think like a scientist, and more importantly, giving me the chance I needed to demonstrate my potential.  Even though he is a retired professor, he still managed to find the time to share his stories and wisdom with me, much like a father to a son.  It is an absolute honor to be his last graduate student.

The faculty and students of the Graduate Group became a large part of my family over the course of my program and have been major pillars of support for me.  Thank you to my thesis committee faculty members, Dr. Su Hao Lo and Dr. Peter Barry, for their guidance and patience through my graduate program.  Also, a special thanks to Dr. Charles Mohr for playing an instrumental role in leading me through my graduate studies
as my master advisor.

Thank you to my mentor and sister-in-law, Dr. Patricia To, for being a role model for me to follow.  She helped me put my academic career into perspective, and provided opportunities when few would even give a second glance.  To my older brother, An To, for passing along little tidbits of wisdom and advice to make sure I am doing everything I can to reach my potential.  Thank you for believing in me.

Since starting my graduate program, my family has been nothing but supportive of my ambitions.  I would like to give a big thank you to my mother and father for always pushing me to explore different opportunities, whether it was in healthcare, business, or technology.  I never quite  understood the reasoning behind their efforts until now, and I am a better person because of it.  To my older sister Ann To and younger brother William To, thank you for the great adventures in life.  Even at this stage, I’m still learning from both of them.

I would like to whole-heartedly thank Jennifer Chan for her patience and understanding throughout my academic career.  She is a constant source of company throughout the endless hours of work through the nights.

To Helena Xu, Kayvon Ghaffari, and Jason Wakizaka – Team Mobilife, the 2010 Imagine Cup National Winners.  Though we started as a very unlikely group to represent the United States, their individual expertise shined through and carried us far.  More importantly, because of their passion, they inspired a nation.

Lastly, I am indebted to the cause of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates Millennium Fellowship for providing me with an unparalleled opportunity to pursue my educational endeavors and further explore science for the benefit of humankind.

Forever grateful,

Wilson J. To, MS

Imagine Cup 2011 – The Crazy Ones

Inspired by Microsoft.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Congratulations to The Lifelens Project, third place victory at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. Maybe we’re just a little crazy. features Lifelens

Excerpt of Liz Dwyre’s article:

How do we connect people who could save time and money by carpooling together? Can we diagnose malaria with a smartphone? Those problems—and a host of other environmental, health, accessibility, and education issues—are being tackled by 124 international teams of socially conscious, entrepreneurially-oriented high school and college students as part of Microsoft’s upcoming annual Imagine Cup.

The finalist teams, competing in New York in July, beat out 350,000 entrants from 183 countries. Looking through the brief descriptions of their projects over at the Imagine Cup blog, it’s hard to believe that students as young as 16 are using technology in such innovative, creative ways. Here are five Imagine Cup finalists that immediately stand out as inspiring examples of how technology can solve the world’s toughest problems.

“Lifelens, University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Business, University of California Davis, Harvard Business School, University of Central Florida, United States: Lifelens, a collaboration between students from four schools, tackles child mortality due to the “lack of detection and availability of treatment of malarial diseases” all through a smartphone app. All a user has to do is snap a photo of a blood sample, and it can tell if someone has malaria. Easy, right?” students changing the world.

Achievement Unlocked: Wikipedia’ed

Imagine Cup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine Cup is an annual competition sponsored and hosted by Microsoft Corp. which brings together young technologists worldwide to help resolve some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Imagine Cup comprises five major technology competitions, including Software Design, and four challenges (although the challenge number is updated annually). All Imagine Cup competitors create projects that address the Imagine Cup theme: “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems”. Started in 2003, it has steadily grown in size, where in 2010 more than 325,000 competitors representing 100 countries and regions registered for the Imagine Cup with 400 finalists coming to the Worldwide finals in Warsaw, Poland.



Imagine Cup participants from around the world who won their regional competitions in 2010 have been recognized by their government leaders. [20] In October 2010, two Imagine Cup 2010 United States finalists (Wilson To from the Mobilife team and Christian Hood from BeastWare) were invited to participate in the White House Science Fair. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Hon. John Key sent Team OneBeep from New Zealand a personal letter that congratulated them on their third place finish in the Software Design category at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Poland, and noted that their solution has great potential to make a different to people’s lives. Team Skeek from Thailand, winners of the 2010 Software Design competition, met Dr. Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, a member of Parliament and Secretary General of The Rajapruek Institute Foundation. Microsoft Poland and members of the European Parliament hosted the “Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation” conference in Brussels. Imagine Cup teams from Poland (fteams and Mutants), Serbia (TFZR), Germany (Mediator), and Belgium (Nom Nom Productions) were in attendance. Greek Imagine Cup winners, Giorgos Karakatsiotis and Vangos Pterneas met with the Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, and demonstrated their project that creates personalized descriptions of museum exhibits based on the user’s needs. Teams Xormis and Educ8 from Jamaica were honored with a special luncheon hosted by the Government of Jamaica that included an address from Hon. Bruce Golding, the prime minister. Team Think Green had the opportunity to meet with Ivo Josipovic, President of Croatia. [21]