Polytechnic University of Bucharest GSoC 10 Things event

Friday, January 3, 2014

This week we have a guest post from a mentor from the Liquid Galaxy project describing his experience at the Google Summer of Code “10 things” celebration in Romania along with his presentation about the Liquid Galaxy project and the workshop he held at the event.

When the Open Source Programs Outreach team at Google announced their “10 things” roadshow for the 2014 Google Summer of Code program, I was excited to see what countries they would visit. They approached the Liquid Galaxy project administrators, Andrew “ALF” Leahy, Ben Goldstein, and myself, Andreu Ibanez, about the possibility of doing a presentation of our project at their meetup at the Politechnic University of Bucharest in Romania. We enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

On November 21, the event was held in a majestic hall with a dome roof, a beautiful example of the school’s 160 year history. The room for the main presentation, with two hundred seats and a grand piano in a corner, was perfectly prepared by local Googlers. In time the room was full of students excited about hearing about Google Summer of Code. The day started with a welcome and introductory words from Adina Magda, Dean of the EPB,  Dan Bulucea, Google Romania Country manager, and Googlers Elisabeta Moraru and Gabriela Chiorean.

Next there were presentations by local GSoC mentors and students that had projects in past years of the program. It was encouraging to see that many women were involved in the projects, and it was interesting that women tended to choose the larger, more established open source projects, like KDE or GNOME.

Carol Smith, manager of the Google Summer of Code program, started her presentation by talking about some of the “10 things” Google is doing in 2014 to celebrate the 10th year of the program. The exciting news included a 10% increase in the number of students that will be accepted, 10 more organizations than ever before would be accepted (which means it will be 190) and also a 10% increase in the student stipend.

And among the statistics mentioned about the program, we soon understood why Google chose the Polytechnic University of Bucharest to hold an event - 100 students from the university have been accepted into GSoC over the last 9 years of the program, the second largest number of students from any single university in the history of the program. From the country of Romania there have been 234 student participants and 54 mentors since 2005.

Then it was time for us to present the Liquid Galaxy project. I spent 15 minutes introducing what the Liquid Galaxy is and what kind of different form factors have been explored, complete with nice videos from the Google Mountain View California headquarters and other installations around the world. Also I spent a few minutes introducing the Liquid Galaxy LAB, the joint local initiative we have in Lleida, Spain, that I started a year ago with Escola Politecnica Superior, La Paeria de Lleida City Council, and the Scientific Park. The Liquid Galaxy LAB is a 50 sqm facility equipped with 3 Liquid Galaxy development instances where students from the university develop their projects around Liquid Galaxy and other Google technologies.

Lunch was also great, with a selection of interesting local food, that was thoroughly appreciated by the students. With our energy replenished, it was time to go deep on Liquid Galaxy technology with 20 interested students joining us for a two and a half hour workshop.
We addressed many topics in the workshop and were pleased with our very interactive group that asked lots of questions throughout the entire workshop. Topics included:
introduction to deep hardware and software internals of the Liquid Galaxy
introducing the many user interfaces we’ve experimented with and the ones we’re working on, such as Leap Motion controller and Google Glass
content currently on LG, including Google Earth, Street View, Google Maps, Google Oceans, and other 360 degrees panoramas
working with web based synchronized contents in browsers across the screens
ongoing special projects at the Liquid Galaxy LAB such as the FAED drone project that is catching lots of interest, and the Firefighters real time Forest Fire analysis tool, both using the LG as the visualization tool.

Other nice surprises included a couple of live Hangouts with other Liquid Galaxy GSoC 2013 students and mentors from Spain and USA.

At the end of the workshop I explained past GSoC Liquid Galaxy projects with the help from local student Ciocan Mihai. Ciocan introduced his colleagues to his 2013 project, a Hangouts like application using WebRTC technology that gives the Liquid Galaxy the ability to do video multi conferences, having a person on every screen.

And last but not least, a perfect dinner was organized by local Googlers in the old city center, full of great meat, vegetables, beer, and friendship. It was the perfect end for a full day of great experiences, meeting new people, seeing new places, and visiting a University that is really interested in Google technologies.

By Andreu Ibanez, Liquid Galaxy LAB