February 23, 2018
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UMFK student relishes Google code program

Andr? L?ger, 37, who lives in Edmundston, New Brunswick, is a senior at UMFK. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JEN LYNDS
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — A University of Maine at Fort Kent student learned new techniques, gained some experience and had fun over the summer after he won a paid internship to participate in the Google Summer of Code program.

Andre Leger, 37, who lives in Edmundston, New Brunswick, is a senior at UMFK. Earlier this year, Leger said Friday, UMFK professor Raymond Albert mentioned the Google Summer of Code program to his students. Leger decided to apply.

Google Summer of Code kicked off in 2005. The program offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source projects. Code is the mechanism most often used by programmers to specify the actions to be performed by a computer. Accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects. They gain exposure to real-world software development scenarios and have the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits.

During his three-month assignment, Leger, a former investment banker, built and implemented a prototype discussion box for Open Syllabus, a project of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Sakai Foundation. Leger explained that the discussion box he developed is similar to a chat room where students and their teachers can interact online.

According to Leger, Sakai is an open-source collaboration and learning environment. It is an alternative to other classroom teaching platforms, such as Web CT and Blackboard, which allow students and teachers to interact and learn online.

The Sakai Open Syllabus project, or Sakai3, will be customized and run by universities around the world to support their staffs, students and collaborators in their work. It is set to debut next year.

“I worked from home on my computer, 40 hours a week,” he said. “I also received eight credits toward my [Bachelor of Science in e-commerce] degree, which was another benefit.”

Leger expects to complete his degree in May. The newest degree comes on top of the bachelor’s degree in business and commerce from McGill University in Montreal he already holds.

His participation in the summer project was conducted under the guidance of a mentor, Claude Coulombe, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal.

“The most exciting part of this whole thing was getting accepted,” he said. “But it was very challenging. I spent a lot of time working.”

He also was required to submit weekly reports on his progress. That work was reviewed and commented upon by his mentor.

About halfway through the project, Leger was given a midterm evaluation and issued either a pass or fail grade.

Leger passed his midterm evaluation and continued his work to a successful completion.

“The project was a great experience for me,” he said Friday. “I learned a lot of skills that I hope to pass on to my classmates.”

Leger hopes to apply to the Google Summer of Code program again, possibly as a mentor for others involved in the program.

After graduation, he is looking forward to self-employment.

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