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Trinity's Humanitarian Open Source Software Project Snags Major Grant


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The U.S. National Science Foundation has awarded a two-year, $800,000 grant to the Humanitarian FOSS Project (HFOSS), a collaborative three-college program that provides free open source software (FOSS) to community educational efforts. The project's initiatives include classes, independent projects, and summer internship programs offered to students from seven different colleges and universities. Project director Trishan R. de Lanerolle plans to use the grant money to include more academic institutions in its projects, starting with summer internships; to create an HFOSS Certificate program to reward students who contribute to the program; and inspire students to design FOSS that helps their community.

The HFOSS project was based on the Sahana FOSS Disaster Management System, which helped victims of the December 2004 tsunami in Asia. Students participating in the HFOSS project also have donated their time to various other volunteer efforts, including InSTEDD Evolve, which uses a machine to search articles for the emergence of diseases in places around the world; and POSIT, a mobile phone program that helps people trapped in a disaster situation.

De Lanerolle hopes the HFOSS program will eventually be expanded countrywide. "We are hopeful that the nascent HFOSS movement will spread and be able to make a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals who could benefit from the HFOSS software projects," he says. Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University launched HFOSS.

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