New Office to Provide Open-Source Expertise for Campus Community

A philanthropic award is transforming the future of open-source software at Georgia Tech and establishing a new resource for students and faculty.

A recent $623,790 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is funding the creation of the Open Source Program Office (OSPO). The office will provide expert advice and the latest information to students and faculty interested in open-source research and publishing. The grant will support the office in its first two years.

Georgia Tech’s OSPO will be a virtual community served by members of the College of Computing, the Georgia Tech Library, the Center for Scientific Software Engineering, and the Partnership for an Advanced Computing Environment (PACE).

School of Computer Science Senior Research Scientist Jeffrey Young and PACE Senior Research Scientist Fang (Cherry) Liu will lead the new office. PACE Research Software Engineer Ron Rahaman, Interim Dean of Computing Alex Orso, and Susan Parham, Digital Curation Librarian at the Georgia Tech Library will provide support.

“If a student says, ‘I did something really cool for a class. I'd like to open-source it and get more users,’ we will give them advice on the best open-source license to pick, how to promote it to a community that would be interested in it, or how to package it in a way so that people can find it and use it easily,” said Young.

Along with answering questions about creating open-source software, contributing to existing open-source content, and curating open-source resources and tools, OSPO will develop a standard for open-source practices at Tech.

“Everybody knows or claims to know what open source is. The reality is that open source means so many different things to different people,” said Young. “We'd like to provide some guidance on developing your open-source work, encouraging external contributions to your project, and being consistent with university best practices for publishing and sharing your work.”

Young said the OSPO will work with the Georgia Tech Library to create and maintain an archive of open-source programs and develop strategies for preserving open-source projects for future use.

As part of their grant proposal, Young and Liu will also create a summer internship program to get students involved in open-source software and match students with faculty to create open-source projects.

Once the office is fully established, Young said they hope to engage with other groups to host workshops at Georgia Tech and other colleges and universities in the Atlanta area.

With support from philanthropic organizations like the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, alumni, parents, friends, and corporations, Georgia Tech is securing the resources that will help achieve the most ambitious goals in the Institute's history as part of Transforming Tomorrow: The Campaign for Georgia Tech.