Friday, February 15, 2013

GSOC Presentation at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Earlier today, I returned to my alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to give presentations on RTEMS and the Google Summer of Code 2013 (download here). About 25 people were in attendance including two faculty members. Thankfully, my wife Michele had driven and let me do final review on the presentations. Chattanooga is about a two hour drive from Huntsville and in a different time zone (Eastern not Central). We had allowed time for traffic and parking problems but had no traffic. We ending up arriving about forty-five minutes early.   We were met in the parking lot by a student who provided a visitor’s parking pass. This greatly simplified having a car on campus. Parking at any university seems to be a challenge.

After no A/V difficulties, I put up a montage of pictures from some of the projects which use RTEMS.  Those who attended the GSOC 2012 Mentor Summit will remember the slide from the lightning talks. It is memorable because someone from another project presented it. I had forgotten the talks and went to the Google Store. The montage highlights awesome projects based on RTEMS including the BMW Superbike, Curiosity, Herschel, Milkymist, Solar Dynamic Observatory, and MMS. As students came in, there were plenty of questions about the projects.  I created the slide to give at an RTEMS friendly workshop where most knew what RTEMS was and I wanted to highlight users. It turns out this is a great slide to get conversations going. If other FLOSS organizations can brag on where there software is used, then a user montage is a good thing to have.

I presented the official GSOC slides first. I felt it was important to emphasize that all types of FLOSS software was represented and that all of the organizations were interested in student participation. Being effective and appropriate to participate in GSOC requires organizations to provide wish lists, mentors, regular interaction with students, friendly communities, etc..

I then moved to the RTEMS specific presentation which very briefly introduces RTEMS but focuses more on recent activities, ongoing activities, and our wish list. It highlights areas we want improvements to occur even in software development process areas. As the last slide came up, I realized I was finishing on time and had presented thirty minutes, leaving fifteen to twenty minutes for questions. I ended my talk by reminding them that I would love to see them all as RTEMS contributors but would be just as happy to see them involved in the FLOSS community on ANY project. We are a collection of organizations but do have common goals.

There were a lot of questions on GSOC followed by some on RTEMS. One student asked where GSOC work occurred. There were questions on how the mentoring worked and what mechanisms were used to communicate with the mentors. I noticed students were packing up and realized they had ten minutes to get to their next class. There were no more questions but I hung around a while.

The big surprise was when a student came up to me while I was packing up. He asked about real-time and SMP as a potential area for Ph.D. work. I told him that I thought it was an open area of research and with some literature research he should be able to find a good area. Years of research into uniprocessor real-time systems and scheduling have given us practical engineering solutions. But the complexities of modern pipelines, caching, and interactions of multiple cores break some of the underlying assumptions. I am concerned that this same level of maturity has not been reached in SMP embedded systems which require rigorous analysis of predictability.

My wife generously waited in the presentation room while I visited with the only faculty member left from when I was a student there Dr. Jack Thompson. Then my wife and I walked around campus, enjoying a pretty day and reminiscing. After all, it was only one day after Valentines Day and we met one another while students here. 


  1. I enjoyed reading about your visit back to UTC. It is nice walking around with your spouse where you met, isn't it? Scott and I went back to visit about 12 years ago. It was very strange; the sense of deja vu was overwhelming. Many of our professors were still there, and oddly, they all remembered us by name and said hello as if they were expecting us. No one seemed surprised that we were suddenly was like they had been in a time warp, just waiting for our return. It was great but eerie.

  2. Hi
    I can't find your presentations!
    please help me.

    p.s. I check the link: