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Open Source Lab advances with new staff members, renewed focus

The Oregon State University Open Source Lab recently hired three new full-time staff members as part of a movement toward expansion as a self-supported campus entity. The additional staff members will provide comprehensive support in lab operations, allowing the OSL to increase student opportunities within the lab and improve the resources it can offer open source projects.

The OSL is home to some of the most well-known open source projects in the world and facilitates more than 600,000 unique downloads each day. In addition to hosting external projects, the OSL also contributes to and develops open source software in-house and provides hosting for projects and Web infrastructure within the university. To support its efforts, the lab employs several qualified OSU students who gain professional experience managing open source projects, maintaining servers and providing customer and user support.

Broadening the lab's staff, says Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson, will allow the OSL to enhance its contributions in all of the above capacities, particularly by providing the professional staff to supervise more student workers, increasing productivity in the lab.

“The goal is basically doing more, giving more students the experience and the exposure in our environment,” Albertson says. “Full-time staff is really there to help students along the way and augment them, and the new restructuring allows us to hire more students.”

In addition to serving as mentors to student employees, the new staff members will fulfill integral roles developing programming code for the lab and maintaining the OSL's hosting and support services. Hiring new staff has filled some of the gaps left by the departure of several full-time OSL staff members within the last year, Albertson says, and also allows the lab to begin the process of integrating its development and hosting teams.

“The idea is to have our students doing both the operations side of things and the development side of things to give them more experience,” Albertson says. “The development team supporting the hosting side of the OSL will also improve our hosting services because they will develop tools that will allow more automation, which means we can do more with less.”

With this plan for collaboration in mind, Albertson says the new staff members were selected in part based on ability to adapt and diverse skill in both software development and systems administration.

New Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett exemplifies the multifaceted experience Albertson described, coming to the OSL after spending over a decade in various positions on the OSU campus. Lett has worked as a systems administrator in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, completed an undergraduate degree in physics as a student and worked with Central Web Services as a software developer.


Lett joins the OSL as senior software developer.

Rudy Grigar and Justin Dugger, who joined the lab as senior systems architects, bring varied experiences of their own to the OSL, both in the private sector and in educational settings. Grigar, who graduated from OSU in 2010, worked at the OSL as a student and went on to hold private-sector positions in systems engineering as well as operations management. Dugger has a background in educational technology services, having worked as an applications system administrator at Kansas State University and in source control management at Kansas' Johnson County Community College.

In addition to adding Lett, Grigar and Dugger to the ranks, the OSL is also undergoing internal staff reorganization to better address priorities within the lab. These changes include Albertson's promotion from senior systems architect to Associate Director of Operations – a move that allows him to use the knowledge he's developed while managing the OSL's hosting over the past five years to evaluate the lab's approach to hosting and development tasks and implement new methods to promote efficiency.


Grigar, who worked in the OSL as a student, returns to the lab as senior systems architect.

Project Manager Greg Lund-Chaix, who has spent the last several years working heavily on the Oregon Virtual School District, is also refocusing his efforts within the lab. Lund-Chaix will still be involved in the virtual school district project, but will pass some of those responsibilities to others, allowing him to participate more fully in lab infrastructure planning, customer relations and student mentoring.

These staff changes accompany efforts to secure the lab as a sustainable entity and to refine outreach to private sector partners. To enhance OSL communications, Albertson has begun adding students to the lab with the establishment of a team of media and marketing students. These students will manage responsibilities that were assigned to one full-time outreach manager in the past but have been unattached since the staff member's departure.

“I saw that it was really an important role to have in our organization, but we can certainly do it with students,” says Albertson, who doesn't shy away from giving students the opportunity to fulfill varied roles in the lab.


Dugger is serving as a senior systems architect in the lab after working at Kansas State University.

As OSL staff work to optimize the lab's resources and place more emphasis on the value of the student experience, close mentoring and expanded student responsibilities will be essential to success. All of the new staff members will contribute to student development as students and staff collaborate to strengthen the lab. Lett says he is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to support student growth and the benefits capable students can bring to the OSL.

“When I worked with students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, I saw that we had some really brilliant students,” Lett says. “That made me appreciate what a resource we have in our students. I'm excited to be part of the process of teaching and fostering that talent.”

Media contact: Kayla Harr,

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