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Championing Open Source

Help to celebrate the University’s commitment to Open Source and showcase your projects by entering into the OpenUK Open Source Awards. Nominations are open until midnight 15 June 2020

Championing Open Source – a student perspective

Before we start to discuss and understand why the University hired a 3rd-year student as their Open Source Champion, we need some background knowledge.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the “Open” world of software, hardware, and data are made up of a lot of people and organizations that are all working towards similar goals but aren’t in communication very well. Why is that important? Well, the individuals who contribute in this space vary from young teenagers to top professionals in many fields and therefore often time, never have any interaction between them and almost never communicate or interact with a larger organization or company.

Therefore, being a student in my 3rd year is a massive advantage for this role. I personally know many people in the student and the workspace who are very passionate about everything “Open” and am trying to bring them together by organizing events like I did during my internship. Also being a student has allowed me to be able to give a unique perspective that sometimes professionals don’t have while making decisions that affect or try to involve students.

In the summer of 2019, ISG was looking to hire an Open Source Champion intern and that intern was me. The role was a first of its kind and therefore the goals were very flexible and more of a guideline than a hard target. Over the summer months, I did some very interesting work (my Open Edinburgh event for example) and had some great experiences, (like my trip to the Houses of Parliament), but more importantly, I made some very supportive and useful connections outside and inside the University and this resulted in me becoming a part of the OpenUK Awards Organization committee.

Open Edinburgh: Putting open source in your hands

OpenUK Events Launch in the House of Parliament

OpenUK Awards Organization committee

Joining OpenUK awards committee

As a part of OpenUK, I had the opportunity to help organize the OpenUK Awards which were supposed to take place at the same time as London Tech Week in June (both events now postponed because of the coronavirus shutdown). This is a very exciting opportunity for me as the event was on a much higher scale than the University events I normally organize and it also allowed me to see how larger oorganizationshave committees to deal with all the different stages of planning including dealing with emergency situations like the one we are in now.

OpenUK Awards – nominations are now open

The nominations for the Awards are now open and you can find out more or nominate a project:

OpenUK Awards – how to enter

The Awards have a few different categories –

These categories allow both staff and students from the University to enter the projects they might have been working on over the past year and gain more recognition for their hard work. Many courses like the System Design Project for 3rd year Informatics students puts out many Open Source projects which could go further and be nominated for these awards.

Undergraduate System Design Project course

SDP Course Trade Fair replaced by Online Showcase

If you need any help, support, guidance, or additional information about any of the awards please contact our support team and mark your request as ‘FAO Ritwik Sarkar’.

Open Source Champion – what else is happening?

Wikipedia Editathon

One of the events I was planning was an Editathon. This is an event where participants create/edit Wikipedia pages, usually on a predetermined topic. My idea was to involve the University Sports Union and focus on the huge, but under represented talent, of Scottish Sportswomen. The idea behind this was to try and involve more University departments and try and raise awareness on how anyone could contribute.

Introducing Edinburgh school children to programming

Another plan I had was to try and reach out to schoolchildren by hosting a one day course using Lego to teach them the basics of coding to try and encourage more children to experiment with these topics in their houses and also to show them that it wasn’t a scary and complicated field. The equipment and instructions/procedures already exists as it is used in some of the Informatics courses; we would only borrow it for a few hours. It would also allow the children to see a little bit of the University and perhaps even to encourage them to consider applying to come here to study.

I am currently working on creating events that can be hosted online and can still bring people together despite the virus situation and trying to market this and make it accessible to as many different demographics as I can.



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