Facebook Open Academy: Real World Computer Science Experience for Students

Posted by jartese on Nov 18, 2013 6:24:21 PM

Facebook recently launched Open Academy, an open source initiative that aims to attract and help young coders. It’s one of the many open-source curricula out there but what’s unique about it is the extent of support Facebook is ready to offer student-programmers.

University computer science students get college credits for contributing on open source code base. Facebook will likely use the program to find for talented coders. It doesn’t matter whether or not Facebook will. A lot of young coders already consider Open Academy as their passport to one the best tech companies in the world.

In a note published on Facebook Engineering page, the world’s largest social network acknowledge how “integral” open source projects are to their operations. As with any other open source programs, collaboration is key. Facebook perfectly understands this since it began its host of open source projects.

Partnership with Heavy-Hitting Schools

Facebook first introduced Open Academy at Stanford last year but only expanded quite recently to include prestigious academic institutions including:MIT, University of Toronto, Cornell University, University of Texas at Austin, Waterloo University, University of Tokyo, University of Singapore, Imperial College of London, University of Helsinki, Tampere University of Technology and Jagiellonian University.

Recent additions to its growing list of partners include US San Diego, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Purdue, UIUC, University of Washington and University of Warsaw.

Facebook has long been supporting open source projects. So it isn’t merely the largest social network in the world, it is, in fact, the world’s largest open source company. Remember Zuckerberg’s ambitious open source plan to get everyone in the planet online?

A Bridge Between School and the Real World

Facebook’s partnership with 22 universities (and counting) is a strategic collaboration among students and mentors. At the beginning of every semester, both students and mentors will spend a weekend at Facebook and work on open source projects. To date, participating students and mentors have worked on Freeseer, Mozilla Open Badge, MongoDB, Pouch DB, Socket IO, Review Board, Phabricator, Kotlin, and Ruby on Rails. Students will then return to their respective schools and spend the rest of the semester working in virtual teams.

This is a crucial direction in the software development world. It effectively bridges the gap between real-world practice and computer science as a computer subject. It’s a practical, hands-on approach that allows students to improve their efficiency. It also, more importantly, allows mentors to bring open source to computer science curriculum and help improve it.

The Future for Computer Science Students Looks Promising

Facebook is just getting started with the program but it’s moving fast in the right direction. For one, it’s looking to add new schools to the program. Also, using its huge technology resources to support existing open source projects is powerful way of helping a community of developers and users.

But what does an open source project of this scope and kind mean for future developers? Here are some possible scenarios:

More Students Will be Motivated to Learn Computer Programming.

Only 2 percent of students are interested in the subject and it’s easy to understand why. Today’s computer science curricula isn’t simply prepared to train students in computer programming. Facebook’s Open Academy can definitely help improve the curricula.

Encourage Collaborative Work on open source projects.

It’s no secret that we’re living in an increasingly collaborative environment. There is, for instance, a lot of talk about the new sharing economy. This program is encourages students see that programming isn’t merely a salaried job but also a creative and collaborative process they can enjoy.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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