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SRU student creates code for Google

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Kelly Smith, a Slippery Rock University computer science major from Grove City, writes in code - computer code. His skills earned him a $5,000 summer job with Google, and there's a good chance that one day, cell phones and other handheld electronic devices could include the code he worked on.

At the suggestion of David Valentine, then professor of computer science and now interim dean of SRU's College of Business, Information and Social Sciences, Smith applied for the "Google Summer of Code" experience. Of the 2,000 applicants, Smith was among the 1,000 students selected.

He is the first SRU student selected for the program.

"It was a tremendous experience. I got paid $5,000, which is more than I would have made in a regular summer job, and it was a great academic learning experience. From Google's standpoint, it is a way to engage students, encourage them to adopt good practices in writing code and is a philanthropic undertaking."

"They jokingly call it 'Flip Bits not Burgers," Smith said, pointing out the program is academic and helps students learn to write Java code for what is known as "open source" software projects. Consideration for the program was demanding. "I was given eight hours to develop a Web site to show them what I could do, before they selected me to participate," Smith said.

Smith was teamed with a mentor - Tobias Klipstein, a computer expert in Germany. The two spent hours e-mailing ideas and comments. Other students in the program were teamed with mentors in Brazil, India, China and other nations around the world. All the mentors work for the Dojo Tooklit, an open source modular JavaScript library designed to ease the rapid development of cross-platform computer applications and Web sites.

The Google Summer of Code was created in 2005 and now involves mentors from 98 countries. The program gives participants exposure to real-world software development scenarios and the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits.

Smith said a big part of the program is helping students learn the necessity of writing code that meets industry standards, part so the new programs can run on a variety of platforms, such as Google's browsers Chrome and Andriod or those of competitors such as Apple's Safari and IPhone, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and others such as Opera.

Part of the work in the Google project involved writing computer programs that will go into the "tool kit" that other software developers can turn to for portions of their overall program. Thousands of "mini-programs" called "routines," "subroutines," "subprograms," tasks" or "modules" are added annually to the tool kit. Many are re-configured or tweaked to aid a particular program's final outcome.