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Beaver BarCamp 17: New Horizons

by Amanda Kelner

April 8 started out like any other Saturday in Spring in Corvallis: rainy, then sunny, then windy, windy-rainy sleet, hail, and then of course, sunny again. Despite the crazy weather, people from all walks of life still convened at the Kelley Engineering Center on the Oregon State Campus for the Open Source Lab’s annual Beaver BarCamp.

For several years now, the OSL has hosted one of Oregon State’s only unconferences to great success. Just as a refresher, or for any newbies out there, an unconference is an event in which the attendees decide the topics of presentation and discussion the day of, rather than determining these topics ahead of time. This year, we tried a few new things.

Beaver BarCamp 17 Main Lobby

Beaver BarCamp is usually more computer science oriented. This year, we wanted to expand our horizons. Coordinating with major colleges across the OSU campus along with The CO and SPARK, we promoted the event to a wider audience and our pool of attendees this year included ecological science, food science, human communications, and other branches of engineering. Registrations were up nearly 30% this year and we’ve been excited about the general reception of this year’s event.

“I liked that the diversity of topics didn’t compromise on the highly technical stuff,” said one attendee studying DevOps. Even the first time attendees meshed with the natural flow of the event and sessions included diverse subjects such as chemistry and radio history. One first-time BarCamp attendee who works in human communications said, “Though I had no experience with the content of the session I attended, the speaker and participants made it easy for me to understand.” Given the success of this year and Beaver BarCamp’s naturally inclusive environment for all topics, experience levels, and backgrounds, we hope to spread the word that the event is no longer just for computer people: we want to reflect Oregon State’s commitment to diversity and create an inclusive environment for our attendees, both intellectually and socially.

Another addition this year included four taped sessions that we posted to the OSL YouTube page. We are excited to present these videos as a new way to experience the event, a way that shows exactly what to expect from an unconference and from Beaver BarCamp. Attendees were excited about this new offer because it they could reach a broader audience and circulate their ideas beyond this one-day event.

Caleb Boylan presenting on Ceph

Interested in joining us next year? There are lots of ways to stay informed, including:

Also, we send out reminder emails to past attendees so you can always stay connected to Beaver BarCamp.

We’re very excited about this year’s success and what it means for future BarCamps. We hope next year will be even more diverse and include an even broader range of sessions. If you have suggestions or would like to let us know what you thought of BarCamp or if you weren’t able to make it this year and would like to let us know how to make it easier for you to attend, fill out our feedback survey so the improvements we make next year will help everyone get the most out of BarCamp.