IBM Invests in Eclipses Future with Grants, Contests

The company aims to tap young developers in college and expose them to Eclipse early on, engaging them in the Java development community.

Despite having spun out the Eclipse consortium into an independent Eclipse Foundation, IBM Corp. continues to invest substantially in the organization and its namesake technology, particularly in activities to attract young developers to the platform.

IBM recently announced winners of a programming competition for students and shared information on grants the company provides to colleges for innovative uses of Eclipse.

IBM announced the winners of the first International Challenge for Eclipse (ICE), as well as the recipients of Eclipse Innovation Grants (EIG), and announced its sponsorship of the Association for Computing Machinerys International Collegiate Programming Contest, held at the end of March in Prague.

Gabby Silberman, program director for IBM Centers for Advanced Studies at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y., said the EIG program is in its second year. In its first year, IBM awarded about 50 grants to university faculty and researchers. "This year, we managed to award about 75 grants" amounting to nearly $3 million in awards over the two-year period, Silberman said.

This years grant-winning projects include Universidade da Coruña in Spain, for a project for enabling visually impaired software developers; Universitat des Saarlandes in Germany, for a project related to changes in programming and applying data mining to version histories of large software systems; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for work on continuous testing, Java dialects and education; and the University of Cambridge in England for a project related to modular image processing for magnetic resonance brain imaging.

The top ICE competition winner was the team of Gabriela Perez and Pablo Pesce of the Universidad de La Plata, in Buenos Aires, for an Eclipse plug-in called Pampero that is an educational tool supporting model-driven software development using graphical notation, Silberman said.

Other winning entries hailed from Ecole National Supérieure de lElectronique et de ses Applications in Cergy, France; North Carolina State University in Cary, North Carolina; the University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany, and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, he said.

Meanwhile, Eclipse was the development platform at the IBM-sponsored ACM competition held March 31 in Prague. The St. Petersburg Institute of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics in St. Petersburg, Russia, won the competition. Silberman said the ACM puts on a Java Challenge, which is based on Eclipse, each year before the world finals for the contest.

Silberman said the competitions represent "a good opportunity to interact with students from all over. … What we want to achieve is to expose the students to more modern development environments." He said the Java competitions actually began in 1998 with the VisualAge for Java Challenge.

Todd Williams, vice president of technology at Genuitec LLC, of Dallas, and a member of the Eclipse Foundation board, said he thinks the investment in the future of Eclipse by seeding the next generation of Eclipse developers is "a great idea."

Williams said that by tapping young developers in college and exposing them to Eclipse early on, the Java development community "could gain an advantage in the competition to win the hearts and minds of developers of tomorrow."

In addition to funding grants and competitions—where winners win IBM and other vendors hardware, development software, internships and trips, among other things—IBM also has called on its Eclipse Jumpstart team to help enlist academic support. "Theyve gone to a few schools in the U.S. and Europe," Silberman said. "Our only limitation is we only have so many people to assign to the program."

Also last month, IBM launched on the site the Eclipse Community Education Project, known as ECECIS, an open-source project that offers Eclipse training materials on video.

Dwight Deugo, an member and computer science professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and his company, Espirity Inc., also in Ottawa, developed the content for the online course. The courseware includes everything to introduce students to using the Eclipse platform and writing plug-ins that work with Eclipse.

/zimages/5/28571.gifCheck out eWEEKs Developer & Web Services Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

/zimages/5/28571.gif Be sure to add our developer and Web services news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page