In July 2022, Saint Louis University (SLU) was awarded funding by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to launch its Open Source Program Office, Open Source with SLU. The two year grant funds the creation of a new software engineering laboratory, stipends for graduate students and a program director role.
While the office is based within the Computer Science department in the School of Science and Engineering, Open Source with SLU is a resource for the entire university and broader regional community.
Its mission is to provide ‘real-world’ software development experiences for students whilst also supporting open scholarship through the provision and maintenance of software tools for researchers.
A key feature of the program is the employment of computer science graduate students to prototype, design, and deliver open-source software that assists SLU researchers and their collaborators. Undergraduate students enrolled in project-based courses join the center and work under the mentorship of the graduate students to maintain and contribute to the ongoing projects.
An online form is available to research faculty in need of new or updated software that will support their research goals and assist with external funding applications.
Core activities include:
- A student program that offers practical experience of software development in a realistic setting.
- Writing and maintaining open source software and in particular, software that supports research.
- Advising SLU departments on Open Scholarship and open source software in Open Scholarship.
- Working with SLU’s Office of the VP of Research to foster Open Research.
- Working with SLU Libraries to support open data initiatives.
Open Source with SLU is in the process of developing partnerships with faculty at nearby universities and community organizations such as LaunchCode and The Unity Foundation. The office is currently developing an IoT library for the Micronaut framework that the Unity Foundation supports. The office has also embraced an ecosystem of open source tools developed by SLU Research Computing built around linked open data standards, RERUM.
At present, the inaugural cohort of 33 undergraduate students are close to completing the first cycle of the program. Over the longer-term, Open Source with SLU aims to become a trusted service provider for software development within the university and with community partners.