Howard University, National Society of Black Engineers and Microsoft Launch 2005 Windows Media Player Skins Challenge

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2005 — Howard University, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to launch the fourth annual Howard University Windows Media
Player Skins Challenge, a college-level competition to create original user interfaces for the Windows Media Player. This year the challenge is open for the first time to all registered students attending universities and colleges with a National Society of Black Engineers chapter.

The Skins Challenge was the basis for Microsoft and Howard University receiving the 2005 NSBE Golden Torch Corporate Education Partnership Award. The award recognized the valuable contribution the challenge makes to advancing the preparation of minority students for digital media innovation.

“The Skins Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for enterprising students to demonstrate their creativity in developing culturally enlightened state-of-the-software digital media products for a worldwide audience,” said Todd Shurn, Ph.D., associate professor of Systems and Computer Science at Howard University and executive producer of the 2005 Skins Challenge. “We’re pleased to have Microsoft sponsor the challenge for the third consecutive year and welcome NSBE student participation.”

Keith Toussaint, program manager in the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft and a Howard alumnus, said, “Activities fusing black history with contemporary technology are in limited supply. While it is important to commemorate our culture in traditional ways, it is necessary that we bring those commemorations forward in innovative ways that progress with technology. The Skins Challenge is a great example of how academia, industry and alumni can work in partnership to provide relevant educational experiences. We are pleased that our association with Howard University and NSBE has enabled this unique and pioneering program.”

Windows Media skins combine graphic art and technology to customize the appearance and features of the Microsoft®
Windows Media Player. Graphic arts students can creatively express themselves with colors, themes, and striking 2-D and 3-D images. Engineering students can use their programming skills to produce exciting functionality and new interactivity modes. Skins offer users a personal interface for interacting with digital media such as CDs, DVDs, MP3s, and streaming audio and video.

“The Howard University Skins Challenge offers NSBE the perfect outlet for advancing its goals of enticing more African-American students to enter the field of engineering and encouraging them to use their creative talents to advance the cause of innovation and scientific exploration,” said Michele Lezama, executive director of the NSBE. “From engineers to artists, the innovators of today are the history-makers of tomorrow.”

Students do not have to be NSBE members to enter the competition, and they may major in any subject. Student teams with three or fewer members may enter by submitting an original Windows Media Player skin by March 20, 2005. The five best skins will be selected and announced March 25, during the 31st annual NSBE National Convention in Boston. Students do not have to be present for their skin to be selected. The five best skins will compete for the overall championship, with the winner to be announced at an awards ceremony in April.

Judges from academia, industry and the media will select skins based on their representation of a theme from culture, entertainment or education in a manner consistently reinforced by appearance, audio effects and operation. Emphasis will be placed on the skin’s utility as a media player interface and its innovation using Windows Media Player 10 features. More information can be found at .

About Howard University

Howard University is one of 48 U.S. private, doctoral/research-extensive universities and comprises 12 schools and colleges. For more than 135 years, the University has served as the training ground for the nation’s leaders in the fields of education, law, medicine, science, the arts and journalism. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, six Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information, visit .

About the National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers’ mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community. Founded 30 years ago, the organization boasts more than 10,000 members with more than 270 chapters on college and university campuses, 75 alumni extension chapters nationwide, and 75 pre-college chapters. For more information, please visit .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at h .

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