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OSU Open Source Lab

Students & Community Members Learn Together at Beaver BarCamp 11

by Melissa Morse on Wed, May 01 2013

More than 150 Oregon State students, community members and students from other Oregon universities gathered in the Kelley Engineering building April 20 to attend the Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 11. Attendees presented nearly 50 sessions on a wide range of topics ranging from the technical to the recreational, including successful system administration, mead brewing and how to turn a T-shirt into a tie.

The open, supportive atmosphere found at Beaver BarCamp encourages students and community members to come together, share what they know and learn from each other. After OSL Director Lance Albertson’s welcome speech, Beaver BarCamp participants created the schedule together, adding session titles to the board on large Post-it notes.

Sessions can be changed and added throughout the day, a feature participants took full advantage of as sessions were juggled to meet group interest in particular topics. When a session on Raspberry Pi single-board computers presented by Ken Olsen, a software technician at Hewlett-Packard, outgrew the room it was assigned to, the group moved to a larger room and a second Raspberry Pi session was added to the schedule.

Hewlett-Packard software technician Ken Olsen discusses Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

“I like the informal quality of it because it’s open, it’s casual, it’s inviting,” says Nate Robison, a senior studying computer science at Western Oregon University.

Several sessions at Beaver BarCamp 11 were designed for beginners or to help experienced coders expand their skills. Oregon State Ecampus student Bryon Burleigh drove to Beaver BarCamp 11 from his home in Bend, Ore., hoping to improve his coding skills. Burleigh is pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree in computer science and appreciated the opportunity to learn about open source and connect with fellow students.

“I want to learn about version control in person, and Beaver BarCamp gives me a way to do that,” Burleigh says.

Beaver BarCamp encourages attendees not only to learn, but also to share their knowledge. Because the unconference is open to everyone and doesn’t require registration, it’s a great way for everyone from tech professionals to students to share their passion and expertise.

Contributors may bring slides or visuals to illustrate their sessions, but a formal presentation is not necessary. Oregon State senior David Fontenot, who is studying computer science, enjoyed this aspect of Beaver BarCamp. During his presentation, Emacs for Beginners, Fontenot spontaneously pulled up some of his homework online in response to a question and showed attendees some step-by-step techniques.

“I like teaching,” Fontenot says. “I recently started focusing on Emacs, and I felt like I had something to contribute.”
The Beaver BarCamp 11 schedule diplays the nearly 50 sessions held throughout the day.

Sponsors Dice.com, Jive, GitHub and Silicon Mechanics funded the conference and made it possible for everyone to enjoy a full schedule of sessions, as well as refreshments and T-shirts. In addition, representatives from gold sponsor Dice.com attended Beaver BarCamp 11, allowing attendees interested in pursuing work as technology professionals to network with the premiere career hub for jobs in the tech industry.

“Our website is catered to IT professionals in the workforce now and also future IT professionals specifically,” says Vince Maccario, a brand ambassador representing Dice. “We specifically want to support these students.”

Looking for pictures from Beaver BarCamp 11? View the `Google Plus Photo Album`_ for user-contributed images of the event.

Beaver Barcamp 12

Beaver BarCamp 12 has been scheduled for Oct. 12, 2013. Visit the Beaver BarCamp website to learn more and sign up to receive updates about the next unconference.