Google gives state grant for school technology program

SALEM, Ore. – Search engine giant Google is contributing $350,000 to create a joint program by two Oregon universities to develop more open-source – freely shared – computer technology, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and other officials announced Tuesday.

The grant will create an open source technology program in early 2006, operated by Oregon State University and Portland State University. Both schools have open source experts on their faculties.


The two-school venture "is a critical piece of our plan for growing the open source industry," Kulongoski said at a news conference.


He said the schools already are doing major work in the field and that Oregon State University has developed a "world-class open source lab."


"Google’s support will strengthen the leadership role of our universities in fostering the next generation of open source technologies, projects and experts in Oregon," Kulongoski said.


Chris DiBona, open source program manager at Google, joined Kulongoski in the announcement and said the "importance of open source can’t be overstated."


"Teams at Oregon State and Portland State have done great open source work in the past," he said, "and we’re excited to back their joint efforts."


The joint program will coordinate computer science course work throughout the university system and offer student internships.


Daniel Bernstine, president of Portland State University, said that Oregon "is ahead of the curve" in open source work and that creating more Oregon jobs in the field will encourage graduates to stay in the state.


"This is another way in which can keep our best and brightest at home," he said.

In another Oregon investment, Google has bought land in The Dalles where it plans to build a network center employing between 50 and 100 people.


The Linux operating system and Mozilla web browser are examples of open source technology that is not privately owned or licensed and are free for downloading.

The open source process gives users the right to copy, modify and redistribute software. Backers say that allows people to modify and improve the technology, sometimes at a faster pace than in the conventional commercial development process.