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Google: We’ve got 1,000 interns working on open-source projects–from home

Students enrolled in Google’s summer internship programme will work from home this year and focus mostly on open-source projects.

Google has shifted to an ‘intern from home’ model so that students can continue to work on engineering projects as the COVID-19 lockdown stretches on.

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The advertising-to-cloud-computing giant has been inviting budding engineers to its summer internship programme since 1999, but the ongoing pandemic has presented a number of challenges that have forced the software giant to come up with a “plan B”.

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Instead of working alongside engineers at Google campuses, this year students from some 43 countries will intern from home. Many of these will focus on open-source projects, which Google called “a perfect fit for many of our remote, globally dispersed interns,” particularly as all underlying code will be readily available.

There will be no shortage of work for students to get stuck into, either. After Google put out a call for project proposals, it received some 200 submissions, which it said led to more than 1,000 potential projects for interns.

“Although many aspects of the program remain the same with interns working from home, we had to make some adjustments,” said Eric Bewer, VP infrastructure at Google Cloud.

“Interns won’t have the benefit of working next to experienced Googlers in a traditional office environment, which in turn impacts the kinds of projects they can work on.”

Open source appears a fitting subject given the current climate and the role it has played in helping tackle COVID-19. In the US, for example, the COVID Severity project has been helping researchers track the severity of the outbreak by curating data on COVID-19 cases across the country.

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At the same time, researchers have used open-source hardware to come up with ingenious solutions for powering ventilators and building protective equipment for health and care staff. Demand for single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi has  seen a sharp increase in demand as a result.

Interns enrolled in Google’s 2020 internship programme will have the opportunity to contribute to projects that support COVID-19 response efforts. They’ll also get a chance to tinker with Google’s in-house open-source projects, for example TensorFlow, Kubernetes, Istio, Chromium, Apache Beam, and OSS-Fuzz.

“The resources invested to support these interns and the contributions they make demonstrates the strength of our commitment to the open-source community,” said Bewer.

“Today, we have more than 1,000 technical interns actively contributing to open-source projects.”

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