openSUSE Conference 2011 is getting closer and closer. Everybody is getting excited and looking forward to it. So what will be my contribution to the many interesting talks and sessions at openSUSE Conference? I would like to discuss, promote and improve collaboration with universities. But let’s start with what, why and how 😉
There is plenty of great students on universities. These students needs to write semestral works, thesis and much more. Usually the toughest task is to choose some interesting topic. Teachers don’t care that much. They have many students and they are happy if student comes with his own topic. But not all students have some strong interests that would help them with topic. These students need some inspiration. Many of them ends up doing yet another chess implementation, mine sweepers or tic-tac-toe. One time projects that nobody will use afterwards. Many hours of students productive time gets wasted. Many hours that could be used so much better. But in opensource world, we have wide variety of tasks from simple ones to hard ones. And we can always use some extra help. If we would just join forces, we would get more contributions to the open source projects, raise awareness of open source and students would get interesting topic, their work wouldn’t go in vain and they can show it to their future employers to get a better job. Whats there for teachers? They don’t have to think about yet another topic and students will seek out help in the community first as it is easier accessible and provides better help. So overall, it is win-win-win scenario 😉
How can we help this happen? That’s the topic of suggested BoF session. It’s not going to be talk, I hope it to be a discussion. Everybody can bring up some ideas. I already have some ideas that I want to present, but generally, I want to discuss, what can we do. Generally I think we want to work together with universities towards the greater good and I know that universities likes this idea. Well, as a matter of fact I know, that Red Hat is already working closely with some universities on this. I think we should start doing the same. Maybe join forces. What we should do is to raise awareness on universities. Do talks on your local university. Invite your fellow hackers to do the talks. Propose some thesis topics and act as a mentor. In GSoC we had many interesting topics and many people volunteering as a mentors. Working with student on his/her thesis should be much less work than GSoC.
I think that the biggest problem is that students don’t know that there are many interesting topics out there. People at universities don’t know, that there is a lot of skilled people eager to promote open source and teach students. So my idea is basically to try to create a process how to make list of mentors, topics and talks we can provide and make it easily available to the universities around the world. We can either start putting it all on wiki or create some simple web application specially for this. Essential part is to make it easy both for us and for universities. But with actual realization, I would like to wait till the discussion on the conference 😉
Looking forward to meeting all of you and I hope we will have really productive discussions and many interesting projects will get started on this years openSUSE Conference!