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UM Student Stars In Google's Summer of Code

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Google’s sixth annual Summer of Code program has wrapped up another year of offering student developers all over the world — including one from the University of Michigan — the chance to get paid to write code for open source projects as an alternative to a summer job.

Kicked off in 2005, the Summer of Code has brought together more than 3,400 students with more than 200 open source projects from all over the world to create millions of lines of code.

This year’s Summer of Code featured the efforts of more than 1,000 students from 69 countries. Of those students, 6.5 percent were women representing 23 countries — six times higher than the estimated proportion of women in the open source community.

Kathryn Iverson, a University of Michigan bioinformatics graduate student, was mentored by the National Evolutionary Biology Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C, and wrote a library implemented in Java with KML to build geophylogenies — geographical evolutionary histories of organisms.

“Since I was starting from scratch it was up to me to decide in what direction I should move the project and make decisions about everything from what input filetypes to support to the color and size of the geophylogenies when they are displayed in Google Earth,” Iverson said.

She said her biggest lesson was that “Working remotely required me to be clear and verbose about what I needed because with the time difference — my mentor was on the other side of the globe — I may not get a response until the next day, which can slow down work tremendously if you’re not clear in asking your questions.”

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