Commit dffdd141 authored by Jean Michel Rouly's avatar Jean Michel Rouly

Wrote new blog post for 'Welcome Back 2014'

parent 3e7628d9
layout: post
title: "Welcome Back Fall 2014"
date: 2014-08-31 12:54:02 -0400
comments: true
Welcome to a new semester! I hope everyone had a great summer!
### New Meeting Structure
In the past, many of our meetings have been repetitive, and sometimes have finished feeling like little was accomplished. With all our projects clearly described on our [**projects page**](, and with further information linked from there to our [**Wiki**]( and [**Git**](, we’ll be focusing on teaching and coding, rather than just coding.
Our meetings will consist of breakout sessions split into three levels of difficulty. Level I will teach practical programming fundamentals not taught in entry-level CS courses, like version control, user interface work, Linux, and more. Level II will consist of projects’ code walkthroughs taught by Project Managers to interested contributors. Level III will be for those who feel sufficiently confident from their experience or from earlier breakout sessions to work independently on SRCT projects, though will still have others around to answer questions in person. Some Level I sessions will be jointly taught with the [**Mason Linux User’s Group**](
We hope to use the knowledge we gain as instructors to strengthen our documentation, and to write review material and interactive tutorials so members can more easily continue learning and developing outside meetings. You can see our meeting plans, including what will be taught and who will be teaching it, on our [**Trello**]( page.
### Communication and Transparency
Internal SRCT communication continues primarily through [**Slack**]( (though we also have mailing lists and a [**Facebook page**]( Just ask anyone on the exec board and we’ll be happy to add you. Discussions are broken into channels specific to projects and events. But it’s not just work! There’s usually nonstop socialization on other channels as well, particularly **#random**. You can bring your questions to **#help**, or find where people are hanging out on **#friendfinder**.
This semester we’ll be increasing transparency and hopefully organizational efficiency by using [**Trello**]( to cleanly manage our projects and events. All project boards are visible to the public. This makes it easier for everyone to see what needs to be done on each project, and to jump in and contribute. Event planning pages, with the exception of the meetings page, are visible within the organization. Like Slack, ask any member of the exec board to be added to the SRCT org.
For the outside world, we’ll be keeping up with our social media accounts on [**Facebook**]( and [**Twitter**]( Follow us for large public announcements like meetings and project releases. We’ll post longer form updates like this one on our [**blog**](, which you can subscribe to through RSS.
### Projects
Let’s start with **big goals** for the semester. Work continues on our most popular project to date, [**What’s Open**](, to make the backend easier to use, but also to expand location information to everything, ÿcross all campuses, with an opening and closing time. New co-ordination with [**University Information**]( will keep all the hours up to date. **Bookshare** should also be out of beta, ready before the end-of-the-semester rush to sell textbooks.
There are plenty of other projects we continue to maintain, or have **smaller goals** we hope to meet during this semester. Our automated academic advising project, **Advisor**, should creep to a limited alpha state where CS students can plot and share their paths to graduation. We hope to further expand use of [**Go**]( by Mason’s media divisions and in Student Government. Our website [**SRCTweb**]( needs a backend. And finally, we hope to have [**Git**]( integrated into the curriculum of upper-level CS and SWE courses for Spring 2015.
For those less technically inclined, we also have needed contributions to a clear and beautiful **design** across all SRCT properties. (Additionally, we can always use help in the physical world, creating posters and flyers.) There’s also a new project idea to [**host freely-licensed pictures of Mason**](, for those with talent in photography. Find out more in the **#photos** channel on Slack.
On infrastructure side, over the summer we’ve moved from hosting our projects on dorm desktops to several cloud providers. We’ll continue work Mason’s IT to gradually migrate to colocation in campus data centers.
We’re always looking for new project or feature ideas, so bring them to the meeting and help develop for the benefit of the Mason community.
### Initiatives
Our primary community outreach program is the [**Community Programming Initiative**](, where members of SRCT teach elementary school children brought from D.C. to GMU how to program using [**Scratch**]( We’ll be drastically expanding CPI this semester, focusing on low-income students, and beginning to co-ordinate with the [**Society of Women Engineers**](
We plan to begin a [**radio program**], as yet unnamed with WGMU, our campus radio station, focusing on technology news around campus. The program will be jointly run with [**Veteran Engineering Technology Students**]( If you’re interested in journalism or communication, join **#radio** on Slack.
### Events
As was so popular throughout last year, over the course of the semester, we’ll be organizing trips for GMU teams to **hackathons**, large programming competitions. It’s a great opportunity to discover and learn new development skills, as well as meet with prospective employers. Several SRCT members were employed this past summer by the contacts that they made with recruiters at the events.
Through a partnership with the Office of Student Involvement, we are organizing a week long [**Innovation Challenge**]( to bring entrepreneurial students together with industry mentors and judges. This event will see students designing a prototype product along with a business plan and marketing scheme. Members of industry will judge the end result and award prizes.
There are several programming groups that regularly meet in D.C. whose meetings we’ve discussed in the past attending, like [**DC Python**]( We hope to organize interested members to attend. Other events may arise; if you know of one, mention it on Slack or Facebook and we can help get a group going.
We hope to show the 1995 film ***Hackers*** this semester as a social event, though the timing will depend on budget paperwork.
### Other Notes
We’ll be making some **tweaks to our constitution** at the beginning of this semester after finding a couple of unspecific areas through the course of the past year. Developers stay tuned for the votes.
Finally, if you’re interested in **leadership**, many of SRCT’s original membership will be graduating this year, including nearly all of the current exec board. Though elections aren’t until November, it’s never too early to start thinking about taking on a managerial role.
Happy Hacking,
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