tl;dr

  • 19 y/o Freshman studying at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York
  • desires to serve OSI Board as student advocate to promote adoption of open source technology and development for local communities
  • has volunteered for multiple non-profits small and large to develop open source technologies for them
  • active member of RCOS, university club dedicated to open source, where I manage a team of students to develop my project
  • has the unique perspective of a young student entering the open source community
  • desires to use a Board position to educate the next generation of developers before they enter the open source community
  • aims to lessen the gender disparity in open source community by advocating for more gender inclusivity at universities preparing their students for the tech world

Who am I?

I'm Frank Matranga, a native New Yorker, student, volunteer, and self-taught open source developer & proponent. Currently an undergraduate Freshman studying Information Technology and Web Science & Computer Science at Renssealer Polytechnic Institute, I desire to serve the OSI Board as a fierce advocate for student awareness and involvement in open source for the benefit of local communities. Although I am running alongside candidates who have actively served the open source community longer than I've been able to type, I have dedicated much of my life working on open source projects that benefit local and school communities.

frank_laptop.png

Projects

Over the past 5 years I have volunteered to develop open source technologies for multiple non-profit organizations ranging in size and scale from my local food pantry (which I serve as a board member of) to national organizations such as Kids Tales and WeShelter, and to multiple homeless shelters in Manhattan, where I attended high school.

Although my student responsibilities have restrained me from participating in larger open source communities due to lack of time, I have managed to advocate for open source work by building and promoting my own open source tools for school audiences.

Open source has allowed me to single-handedly and freely develop solutions to problems I have faced in my career as a student. I'm currently managing a team of 15 students ranging from Freshmen to Seniors to develop my project LATE, an open-source, progressive web app in RCOS, the RPI club dedicated to open source work (which is affiliated with the OSI and hence nominated me). I have an extremely active GitHub where most of my projects reside and where I've made over 2,100 open source contributions in just the last year! Nearly all of the projects I've developed have been targeted toward my peers in order to provide useful tools usually to boost productivity. I have also interacted with the open source community by offering to build small projects for online users for free (often chat bots for platforms like Discord).

Why me?

As students of all ages are often limited in time and money, open source totally removes those limits by providing free and easy access to extremely powerful technologies to use and learn from. I myself, limited by the lack of CS education prior to university, was able to learn thanks to services like GitHub and BitBucket where I was able to find and study the vast array of open source projects developed by the community.

My experience at my university has revealed that despite the growing interest in Computer Science as a whole, not enough students are aware of the tenets of open source, what it means for them, how pervasive it is in the software they daily use, and how it can directly aid them. Since the OSI was formed "to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community," I would tirelessly work to improve awareness of the capabilities of open source in the younger generation everywhere. I would use my position to reach out to other universities to found their own organizations focused on open source development for students, in the same vein as RPI's RCOS. Since the students of today are the next wave of open source developers, it is vital that educational institutions recognize the value in preparing their students for the open source world.

Policy

In 2019, as open source software becomes even more pervasive, it faces many challenges from many sides. Whether from legislation such as Article 13 which could endanger open source projects, the recent attempts to subtly undermine the official definition of open source by historically open source organizations such as Redis and MongoDB, and more, the OSI and the entire open source community must remain stronger and more concordant than ever. As stewards of the OSD, the OSI must actively interact with the community to ensure developers understand:

  • that there is an official and clear-cut definition of open source
  • that recent actions taken by open source projects to add the Commons Clause to their licenses and similar tweaks to OSI-approved licenses not only removes their status as open source but also sets an unhealthy precedent for other organizations that may follow suit
  • that while maintaining open source projects may prove difficult and even painful should they reach great popularity and scale, choosing an open source license means that you respect the lack of restrictions no matter the size or scope of the project for the benefit of the community

Besides this, there is the more obvious issue of disparities in not just the open source community but the developer community across the world, most notably the gender imbalance. I am reminded of this everyday through the ratio of males to females studying Computer Science, involved in CS clubs, and in general involved in tech communities on campuses, which I know through acquaintances is endemic in universities across the US and elsewhere. The open source community has the unique ability to lessen this gap, as with open source software there are ostensibly no boundaries to enter, develop, and interact with the community. However, there is much work to be done to improve the inclusivity of the open source world. As the OSI's mission involves educating the world about open source, it is our duty to actively make the open source community more friendly and inviting to those historically underrepresented. As a student, I would work to lessen this gap by helping to promote existing organizations that share this goal in university settings such as the AWC and other student clubs that aim to educate underserved populations by exposing young people to open source technologies and the possibilities they bring. While it may seem that my age and student status might limit my reach and ability to make change, instead it places me in a unique position to enact positive change to aid the next level of developers as they enter the open source community.

Questions?

I can be reached at my RPI email(matraf@rpi.edu) or my work email (frank@matranga.family). Or leave a comment below!

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Created by Patrick Masson on 2019.03.01 at 06:49:38 PST
    

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