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Howard University Trio Repeats Skins Competition Victory

Howard University Trio Repeats Skins Competition Victory

Washington, D.C. 
Repeating their winning ways for a second consecutive year, three Howard University seniors took top honors in the university’s fifth annual national Windows Media Player Skins Challenge. The competition, which is open to colleges and universities with a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter on campus, challenges teams of students to create original user interfaces for the Windows Media Player.

The winning entry, entitled “NGAO,” was created by Munyiri Kamau, Paul Onakoya and Chi Owunwanne, and it showcases a South African mask that pays homage to Shaka Zulu, a 19th-century South African warrior and leader. The NGAO interface provides basic features such as playlist and music/video selectivity settings, along with cultural information about the Zulu tribe.

“I’m surprised we won again. The competition was much stronger this year,” Owunwanne says.

Each member of the winning team is a computer science major and each is taking a job with the Microsoft Corp. Owunwanne and Onakoya are Nigerians while Kamau is a Kenyan.

Developed as a competition by Howard systems and computer science professor Dr. Todd Shurn, the Skins Challenge has allowed students from different disciplines to apply their technical and creative knowledge, and learn new skills. The competition is a collaboration among Howard, NSBE and Microsoft and targets African-American college students to expose them to opportunities in computer science and engineering.

Shurn says he believes the quality of the top teams have improved over the years, but would like to see more teams enter the competition.
“We’d like to have a competition in computer gaming and other areas, but we need to attract more of a critical mass of interested students by growing the Skins competition,” he says.

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