Presented by

  • Daniel Shown

    Daniel Shown

    Daniel serves as the Program Director for Open Source with SLU, an academic open source program office started in July 2022. He handles the program's daily operations, builds connections with industry partners, works with internal and external clients of the program, and guides and supports graduate students. He ensures that the program follows its mission. Open Source with SLU has a three-fold mission of giving students real world software development experience, developing software that supports research, and supporting open scholarship (including open source software, open source hardware, open data, and open work) by sustaining digital infrastructure and fostering innovation. Daniel is an artist, technologist and symmathesist. With multiple decades of professional experience in software development and operations for academia, finance, aerospace, retail, and renewable energy he has maintained parallel careers as a technologist and artist. As both an artist and a technologist he engages symmathesy, learning systems made of learning parts, as a theoretical lens and an evolving pragmatic toolset for developing both people and technologies that enable them. He is also an adjunct instructor in Computer Science for courses in Multimedia, Web Technologies, Principles of Software Development, and Open Source and Community Service.


Integration of an Academic Open Source Program Office (OSPO) as a Research Software Engineering (RSE) group within a university environment offers a distinctive approach to fostering open source collaboration and enhancing research software engineering practices. The utilization of students as developers within such a program highlights their unique contributions, benefits, and the challenges involved. The growing recognition of research software as a fundamental component of the scientific process has led to the establishment of both academic OSPOs and RSE groups. These groups aim to enhance software engineering practices within research projects, enabling robust and sustainable software solutions. The integration of an OSPO into an RSE group within a university environment provides an intriguing fusion of open source principles and research software engineering expertise. Engaging students as developers in an OSPO-RSE group brings numerous advantages. It provides students with valuable experience in real-world software development, enabling them to bridge the gap between academia and industry. By actively participating in open source projects, students can refine their technical skills, learn industry best practices, and gain exposure to collaborative software development workflows. Involving students in open source projects enhances their educational experience. They have the opportunity to work on meaningful research software projects alongside experienced professionals, tackling real-world challenges and making tangible contributions to the scientific community. This exposure to open source principles and practices fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. This approach also raises questions. How can the objectives and metrics of success for an academic OSPO-RSE group be defined and evaluated? What governance models and collaboration mechanisms are required to balance the academic freedom of researchers with the community-driven nature of open source? How can the potential conflicts between traditional academic practices and the open source ethos be effectively addressed? How can teams balance academic commitments with project timelines? These questions highlight the need for careful consideration and exploration of the organizational, cultural, and ethical aspects associated with an OSPO acting as an RSE group within a university. Leveraging student developers in an OSPO-RSE group also presents challenges that need careful consideration. Students may have limited experience in software engineering practices, requiring mentoring and guidance to ensure the quality and sustainability of the research software they contribute to. Balancing academic commitments with project timelines and expectations can also be a challenge, necessitating effective project management strategies and clear communication channels. Furthermore, the ethical considerations of involving students as developers in open source projects must be addressed, ensuring the protection of intellectual property, respecting licensing requirements, and maintaining data privacy. The involvement of students as developers within an OSPO-RSE group offers valuable benefits. The effective integration of students in this context requires thoughtful planning, mentorship, and attention to ethical considerations. This talk will examine the experience of the Open Source with SLU program to explore the dynamic role of student developers in an OSPO-RSE program and engage in discussions on best practices, challenges, and the future potential of this distinctive approach to research software engineering within academia.