Howard University Students Win 2006 Howard University Windows Media Player Skins Challenge

WASHINGTON — May 9, 2006 — Team “NGAO” from Howard University was selected as the winning team of the fifth annual Howard University Windows Media® Player Skins Challenge, a unique college-level competition to create original user interfaces for the Windows Media Player.

The program is a collaboration between Howard University, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Microsoft Corp. to expose African-American college students to opportunities in computer science and engineering, provide students with hands-on experience in technology, and increase the number of African-Americans who enter IT and related fields.

“There is a deficit in the number of African-Americans who enter careers in math and the sciences,” said James H. Johnson Jr., Ph.D. and dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences at Howard University. “By allowing enterprising students to demonstrate their creativity in developing state-of-the-art digital media products, the Howard University Windows Media Player Skins Challenge is a program that is encouraging students to pursue careers in the IT field.”

The Howard University Windows Media Player Skins Challenge is a collegiate student competition to customize the appearance and features of the Microsoft® Windows Media Player. This challenge allows students from various disciplines to explore their IT skills and redefine their future.

  • Graphic arts students can creatively express themselves with colors, themes and striking images.

  • Engineering students can use their programming skills to produce exciting functionality and new interactivity modes. Skins offer users a customized interface for interacting with digital media such as CDs, DVDs, MP3s, Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video.

Judges from academia, government, industry and the media selected 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 was placed on the winning skin’s utility as a media player interface and its innovation in its use of features in Windows Media Player 10.

“NGAO” was created by Munyiri Kamau, Paul Onakoya, and Chi Owunwanne, and is based on a South African mask paying homage to Shaka Zulu, a 19th-century South African warrior. The mask adds new functionality to the Windows Media Player by adding the ability to search for lyrics. The lyrics acquisition feature was created using Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005. The mask also provides basic functionality such as settings, playlist and music/video, along with cultural information about the Zulu tribe. The students were the national winners of the 2005 competition.

“We at Microsoft couldn’t be more pleased, as this competition continues to provide students with practical skills and the technology tools necessary for success in today’s ever-changing world,” said Cedric Coco, general manager of Engineering Excellence at Microsoft. “By incorporating technology solutions with visual art, this challenge offers its participants the unique opportunity to unleash their creativity and realize their potential.”

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. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, 13 Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at

About the National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), with more than 18,000 members, is the largest student-managed organization in the country. NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

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.

Microsoft, Windows Media and Visual Studio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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