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Midway point approaching for Fedora Summer Coding

The season is clipping right along for Fedora Summer Coding.  The projects are set and running, and we’re approaching the mid-term evaluation period 05 to 12 July.

A quick look at the numbers:

  • 15 students and projects.
  • 20 primary mentors, with 15+ more general mentors (includes mentoring the mentors)
  • Three funding sources (two from Red Hat) are making the proof of value program happen this summer:
    • We know the concept works (thanks Google’s Open Source Programs Office!), with specific value to Fedora Project and JBoss Community in this 5-year summary report.
    • We have a model to include other sponsors and are actively seeking them.
    • The work this summer proves to those potential sponsors the value of this program.
    • The sponsors who lay a wager by supporting the program for the southern hemisphere this October are buying their own proof of value to see if they want to continue next year.

Next on the schedule is the mid-term review.  During that period, mentors review and privately discuss the state of each project and the student.  The goal of a project is to help the student learn FOSS participation via the Fedora Project and JBoss Community. Ideally, there is good code or content that comes out of it, but completing the initial project plan isn’t the real purpose.  As often happens, in open development we discover new ideas, methods, and reasons along the way.

For example, this week I spoke with a mentor who’s student is struggling a bit with the initial scope of the project plan.  If the only goal were to get that coding done, we’d all be in trouble.  However, the mentor is going to work with the student to narrow the scope so that it is achievable within the schedule.

Having to rescope and reorganize is not uncommon in the FOSS worlds, and this student is learning that reality first hand.  We’re all ambitious with our ideas and skills, and sometimes don’t learn until immersed what is hard and what is easy.  It’s better to rescope and complete a smaller project than to leave in frustration.  Guiding the student in that way is what the mentor is here for, as much as anything else.

In terms of sponsoring, my goal is clear.  I want to see this program run the way we run free and open source software projects.  By bringing in other sponsors, we create more room for innovation in the program’s organization and implementation.  We give these friends and partners a chance to reap the same benefits with a similar investment.  In the process, we work together to strengthen the FOSS ecosystem in to higher education.

Guess what we call that?  Yeah, the open source way.