Authors: Daechan Kim, Aboli Shete, and Tania Hernandez

This summer, Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) collaborated with Open@RIT to team up with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) students to conduct research activities related to the Catalyst project. The Catalyst project, also known as Open Collaborative Project for Latin America and Africa, is a coordinated effort between IOI and five partner organizations (2i2c, MetaDocencia, the Carpentries, CSCCE, OLS) to deploy and manage open cloud infrastructure for under-resourced communities, create training and pedagogical content to assist users, build capacity for technical, pedagogical, and leadership skills within these communities, and identify a participatory service model to sustain, scale, and generalize impact for global communities.

Open@RIT’s goals are to discover, and grow the footprint of RIT’s impact on all things Open including, but not limited to, Open Source Software, Open Data, Open Science, Open Hardware, Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons licensed efforts– what they like to refer to in aggregate as Open Work. For Open@RIT, an Open Work delineates the meaning of “Open” with respect to work products and projects that are released into the public domain or under a license recognized by an entity such as, but not limited to, the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the Free Software Foundation, the Creative Commons (CC) or the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) with the intent of promoting a robust community of collaboration around the work itself and other work that it may interoperate with.

We were pleased to work with Daechan Kim and Aboli Shete, students at RIT. They conducted research activities for the Catalyst project and helped draft the Exploratory Research on Governance and Sustainability Practices of Cloud Computing and Open Source Computational Services. Tania Hernández (Research Data Analyst at IOI) interviewed Daechan and Aboli on their summer learning experiences and future goals.

We thank Michael Nolan, Assistant Director at Open@RIT for his help overseeing and engaging with this project.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Daechan Kim: I am a fourth-year student in the BFA Industrial Design program at RIT and my interest lies in user experience design and user research. Over the summer, I contributed to the Catalyst project through the Open@RIT-IOI collaboration.

Aboli Deepak Shete: I am a second year Master’s student at RIT majoring in Human Computer Interaction. I am currently doing my Summer Co-op at Open@RIT as an UI/UX Designer and Researcher. I am glad to have got the opportunity to work with IOI through Open@RIT as a Student Researcher. My interests are UI/UX design and research and my career goal is to design user-friendly applications that make human lives easier! In general, I like to read, watch movies and travel!

2. For the Catalyst project, what were your main research activities?

Daechan: I conducted initial desk research to gather information about organizations related to open infrastructure. Based on the desk research, I wrote the first draft of the summary report “Exploratory Research on Governance and Sustainability Practices of Cloud Computing and Open Source Computational Services” and a blog post “Exploring Governance and Sustainability Practices of Cloud Computing and Open Source Computational Services for the Catalyst Project” related to the report. The blog post expanded as a Google slide presentation and a video to enhance the product’s visibility.

Aboli: For the Catalyst project's preliminary desk research on cloud computing services and open source computational services, I initially produced a few visuals. Additionally, I did some desk research on memorandum of understanding and conflict of interest policies for the Catalyst project. I subsequently made an appendix that described the elements noted during the desk research conducted by Daechan. I then began conducting additional desk research on 17 new open source computational services and foundations.

3. How has working with IOI contributed to your academic goals or professional development?

Daechan: It was my first attempt to participate in structured research and write a report. It was an exciting and intriguing experience, which I could not accomplish without Tania’s invaluable support and help. Her guidance helped me to understand how to design the research and structure the report to deliver the discovery effectively. Based on my experience tailoring the information for the research paper, I am currently working on another research and report for Mystic in Open@RIT.

Aboli: Working with IOI has significantly contributed to both my academic aspirations and professional growth. Through my collaboration with IOI, I have gained invaluable hands-on experience and exposure to real-world projects, which has complemented and enriched my academic coursework.

Moreover, being a part of IOI has allowed me to enhance my research skills. Being a part of the weekly research meetings and the collaborative environment has encouraged me to engage in multidisciplinary discussions and learn from professionals with diverse backgrounds. This exposure has not only strengthened my existing skills but also cultivated new ones.

Furthermore, the guidance and mentorship I have received from you (Tania), has helped me refine my approach to research, sharpen my technical skills, and develop a heightened sense of professionalism.

In essence, my engagement with IOI has acted as a bridge between academia and the professional world, aligning my academic pursuits of conducting UX Research with practical applications and fostering my growth into a more capable and confident individual within my chosen field.

4. What kind of support did you receive from Open@RIT for your research activities?

Daechan: Mike helped me to understand the environment of open infrastructure and organizations. Occasionally, he reviewed my desk research and helped me to find more organizations or correct information.

Aboli: The chance to collaborate with IOI through Open@RIT was wonderful. We shared updates about our work with the team at our daily standup sessions during which my supervisor at Open@RIT, Michael Nolan, regularly checked on how our IOI work was going and offered assistance as needed. He made sure we could effectively coordinate both our work for other Open@RIT projects and our research activity at IOI.

5. What is next for you?

Daechan: I am more interested in user research and want to pursue a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction, which will enhance my knowledge and expand my horizon. I hope I can utilize what I learned from this experience.

Aboli: My immediate goal in pursuing my Master's degree is to successfully complete my academic journey by the upcoming summer, allowing me to transfer into the professional world. With a background in software development and a specialized degree in user experience, I hope to actively pursue roles as a User Experience Designer and Researcher. My goal in these roles is to create and design extremely user-friendly applications and websites that easily resonate with broad audiences.

My exposure to Open Work and Open Source Infrastructure this summer has substantially extended my perspectives, piqued my interest in delving deeper into this interesting topic and actively contributing to it. I want to improve and perfect my skill set, which will help me advance in my career. I also want to be a part of programs and efforts that help people and communities.

Posted by Invest In Open Infrastructure