University Outreach and the Google Summer of Code

The Google Summer of Code (GSoC) programme has been a great vehicle for university outreach. For the 2008 running of GSoC, the Eclipse Foundation received student 127 applications from almost as many institutions. Most of the students submitting proposals were currently enrolled in undergraduate programmes, but many where pursuing graduate-level studies. I’m pretty sure that there were even a couple of post-graduate proposals (but, frankly, I’m too lazy to go through all our proposals to enumerate them). For the uninitiated, the GSoC pays students to work on open source projects. The work is structured with well-defined goals for the term, and monitored by a mentor provided by open source organization. This year, the Eclipse community had the opportunity to mentor twenty projects.

Eclipse involvement links in rather nicely with the university outreach work that I’ve been doing. One of the things that’s great about GSoC is that it gives us an opportunity to interact with students from backgrounds that it’s generally hard for us to interact with in other ways. It’s difficult for us, for example, to engage directly with universities in China; GSoC has helped us link up with students and faculty in there and in other parts. Curiously, there were relatively few applications this past year from universities in North America. I’m going to spend some time in the coming months trying to sort out why that is. I know that there are many North American universities (particularly those in Canada) that are making heavy use of Eclipse technology at the post-graduate level, and that Eclipse-based IDEs are very popular amongst undergraduate students.

Late last week, I submitted a proposal to move the Eclipse IDE for Education (IDE4EDU) out of the SOC project and into it’s own Technology project. We’ve already got one student doing some work on IDE4EDU and have had interest expressed from others. With any luck (and perhaps some skillful guidance) this project will the be target of several student proposals for GSoC 2009.

I’m doing a short talk about Eclipse and GSoC at Eclipse Summit Europe next week. I hope to see you there.

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