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UT Computer Science Professor Glenn Downing and UT students returned to the Facebook Open Academy this October. This marked the third time the university was a part of the event.  

Facebook Open Academy started in spring 2013 with the goal of improving the curriculum at various top university computer science departments all over the world. The event is a day three day kick off at the Facebook headquarters. The real work comes when the students return home and work on their projects remotely. Through this program, students are not only allowed to receive academic credit for their work but also attain practical, applied software engineering experience.

Professor Glenn Downing, center, and Facebook Open Academy team and team mentor Jim Hughes, far right, at this semester's course.Downing took students Ryan Brooks, Samantha Cooper, Tim Sherlock, Amanda Steinwedel and Kevin Wheeler to the academy. Together they began working on a project called GeoMesa.

GeoMesa is an open-source, distributed, spatio-temporal database built on top of the Apache Accumulo column family store. Apache Accumulo is a computer software project that developed a sorted, distributed key/value store based on the BigTable technology from Google. The project aims to provide as much of the spatial querying and data manipulation to Accumulo as possible.

GeoMesa's concerns range from executing user queries optimally against Accumulo to integrating with GeoTools and GeoServer to provide dynamic, usable visualizations and data analysis.  

With the broad range of the project, there is room to add new ideas at any number of points along the way.

In spring 2014, a course in conjunction with the Facebook Open Academy will be offered through UT Computer Science. CS 378: Open Source Software Engineering will be taught by a chief architect at PayPal, Mike McCartney.

The next Facebook Open Academy course wil begin in early February when all participating faculty, students and mentors from around the world fly to Facebook's headquarters for the event.