Date: November 1, 2013
The Internet Society ran a successful new program this summer aimed at increasing the participation of computer science and engineering students at the IETF meeting in Berlin. Dubbed the IETF University Outreach Pilot Programme, the effort included outreach to German and Austrian faculty, the creation of materials to help students prepare for the meeting, and daily student-focused events at the meeting. The number of paid student registrations at IETF 87 reached 144, more than triple the number at previous meetings. A post-meeting student survey … showed promise for the students’ continued engagement in IETF work. Hamburg University sent 10 students to the IETF meeting in Berlin, and half of them plan to continue their involvement with particular working groups, Prof. Schmidt said. “Having first-hand discussions with those who lead protocol design processes offered valuable insight in the thinking behind” the documents, Prof. Schmidt said. He added that “the review process offered a unique chance to see how critical feedback can happen in a constructive way.” Freie Universität Berlin also had 10 students attend the meeting, including bachelor’s, master’s and PhD candidates. “Following the IETF process is a perfect exercise to deepen your understanding of protocol engineering,” Prof. Wählisch said. “Students see that you can start with a good idea, but that most good ideas need refinement.” Wählisch said it was important to prepare students for an IETF meeting. “It is helpful to limit the topics per student, otherwise they can get lost in the IETF space,” he said. The Internet Society’s Toral Cowieson and her team will fine-tune the University Outreach Programme and roll it out again in conjunction with upcoming IETF meetings held in cities with sufficient computer science and engineering student populations. To attract these students, an ISOC team contacted 15 German and Austrian universities and asked them to share information about the IETF 87 meeting in Berlin. Two professors—Matthias Wählisch of Freie Universität Berlin and Thomas Schmidt of Hamburg University of Applied Sciences—were particularly supportive of the effort, having both attended IETF meetings in the past. At the meeting, students attended a German-language orientation delivered by ISOC Germany chapter leader and long-time IETF participant Hans Peter Dittler and briefings with guest speakers including Axel Clauberg and Steve Conte. The Internet Society more than tripled its goal of 50–75 student registrations—there were 144 paid student registrations at IETF 87. In comparison, the percentage of paid students among all registrants rose from 3 percent at previous meetings to more than 10 percent at IETF 87. A post-meeting survey of the Freie Universität Berlin and Hamburg University students showed promise for the students’ continued engagement in IETF work. Nearly 100 percent of survey respondents subscribed to working group elists prior to the meeting and planned to continue tracking Internet-Drafts after the meeting. In addition, 85 percent said they had a better understanding of the Internet standards development process after attending the meeting. Students interact with an IETF attendee during a coffee break. London, Toronto, and Honolulu Area Faculty Sought for IETF University Outreach in 2014 The Internet Society is seeking computer science and engineering faculty to participate in University Outreach Programmes at IETF 89, 90 and 91. If you teach at a college or university in or near one of next year’s host cities and you wish to provide your students with exposure to the standards development process, please contact Kevin Craemer at firstname.lastname@example.org.