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Cornell Software Course Gets Boost from Facebook


Cornell University has launched a new course, Open-Source Software Engineering, designed in collaboration with Facebook to provide students hands-on experience with software development and collaboration with geographically dispersed teams.

The collaboration is part of a larger initiative by Facebook, Open Academy, which brings together computer science students and mentors from open source projects. Open Academy was originally piloted at Stanford University last year and now includes MIT, University of Texas at Austin, University of Toronto, University of Tokyo, Imperial College of London and University of Helsinki, among others.

"Facebook wants students to come out with experience working on large existing code bases," said Ross Tate, assistant professor of computer scienceand teacher of the Cornell course, in a prepared statement. "I can see most companies being interested in this. Working on open source can be more difficult than working in industry."
Facebook pays for the students to travel to Palo Alto at the beginning of the term for a hackathon, where they meet students from other participating universities as well as open source mentors. After returning to campus, they work in small teams with many of those same students and mentors.

"A lot of programmers will [contribute to open-source software] on their own. They will find a product they are passionate about and work on it," said Jeran Fox, a Cornell student who took the course in the spring, in a prepared statement. "This is obviously cool because we're getting credit for it and have a mentor who's a major contributor."

More information about the Open Academy program is available at facebook.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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