Tech Ventures, Facebook’s Open Compute Project to spark student ingenuity

In its first sponsored competition with a university, Facebook has partnered with Tech Ventures, a technology commercialization program in Purdue University’s College of Technology, to sponsor a student challenge through the Open Compute Project.

The Open Compute Challenge asks students to combine efficiency (minimizing the cost of waste and recycling) with sustainability. Participants will be charged with designing a biodegradable server chassis, which is the shell that holds all of the server components. Servers are typically replaced every four years.

Registration for the challenge is open now.

The winning team will work with Purdue faculty and Tech Ventures to create a prototype of the chassis and then attend the 2013 Open Compute Summit to present the winning design to industry professionals.

Facebook created Open Compute to harness the same enthusiasm for open source hardware environment that open source software has enjoyed for years. The company hopes the open source nature of hardware design will spark collaborative dialogue and lead to the development of the most efficient computing infrastructure, such as servers and data centers, possible.

Matt McKillip, executive director of Tech Ventures, and Lonnie Bentley, faculty director of Tech Ventures, are excited by the opportunity to work with Facebook and Open Compute. The work done to successfully host the initial Purdue challenge will lay the foundation for the next phase, which will be a Purdue-hosted competition open to other colleges and universities across the country.

“We commend Open Compute for providing this opportunity for our students to solve a real world problem,” McKillip said. “In addition, the student competitors will make vital business contacts and make a strong contribution to our shared sustainability goals.”

Heather Brotherton, a doctoral student in the Department of Computer and Information Technology, is coordinating the challenge on campus. Eric Dietz, director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute and professor of computer and information technology, is also a part of the team.

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