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By Jarrod Jackson

University News Service                     
February 20, 2013      
Hacking Competition Encourages Tech Entrepreneurs at Howard

WASHINGTON – A team of three students took first place in the Black Founders Startup Ventures hacking competition held Feb. 15-16 at Howard University. The students competed against other teams for the university to successfully develop mobile apps in 24 hours.

Antonio McMichael, a systems and computer science senior, Jeremy Blackstone and Nigel Randall, both systems and computer science juniors, worked overnight to create an app that enables users to locate small and obscure buildings in urban settings. The app provides users with real-time data that improves cellular GPS capability.

“They may have created another way to market to people through augmented reality,” said Legand L. Burge, III, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Systems and Computer Sciences, which sponsored the event. “I’m surprised they got it done in 24 hours.”

McMichael, Blackstone and Randall bested six other teams to win first place and the $500 grand prize.

“The biggest thing was persistence,” McMichael said after winning the competition. “I feel like we worked well as a team and put in a lot of hard work.”

More than 20 students participated in the competition. Black Founders Startup Ventures, a San Francisco-based organization whose mission is to increase the number of successful Black entrepreneurs in technology, sponsored the national campaign. The goal of the campaign is to get more students at Black colleges and universities interested in hacking and becoming technology entrepreneurs. Howard was the last stop for the “HBCU Hacks” campaign for the spring 2013 term.

Hadiyah Mujhid, co-founder and director of education outreach at Black Founders, said during the event at Howard that exposing more students to hacking competitions will help them feel more comfortable developing software to solve problems.

“We believe increasing the amount of students at Black colleges hacking and building applications will ultimately increase the number of Black tech entrepreneurs,” Mujhid said.

The competition was open to all majors and several students who participated were majors in fields other than engineering. Sarah Holder, a junior in Spanish, placed second in the competition for development of an app that creates food recipes using ingredients users already have.

For images of the event from Blue Light Photography visit here,

To learn more about Black Founders, visit:
@blackfounders  on Twitter

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