500 Inspiring Individuals Around the World Receive IT Training & Certification Scholarships from The Linux Foundation

Edited 01/07/20

SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has announced the recipients of the 2020 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) Scholarships. LiFT aims to increase diversity in open source technology by providing access to online and in-person training and certification exams for underserved demographics at no cost to the recipient. Since 2010, The Linux Foundation has awarded 606 scholarships for millions of dollars worth of specialized, technical training to those who may not have the ability to afford this opportunity otherwise.

This year, The Linux Foundation awarded scholarships to 500 of the more than 1,150 applicants who vied to be selected in one of ten categories.

This year’s selected pool of talent represents the potential for greatness in future participation in the open source community. Ages of recipients range from 16 to 67 with the average age being 28 years old. With the recipients also coming from 77 countries on six continents, the open source novices and seasoned tech professionals selected to receive this year’s scholarships serve as a reminder that interest in open source and technology generally crosses all demographics.

“We were preparing to launch the 2020 LiFT scholarship program when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing us to rethink how we could use this program to help individuals who have been impacted,” said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. “We quickly decided the best thing we could do was to provide this potentially life changing opportunity to as many individuals as possible, and therefore increased the number of scholarships more than tenfold, from 30 to 500. While this is only a small number of the individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic, we are happy to be able to help them improve their skills and pursue meaningful careers.”

Highlighted scholarship recipients for 2020 in each category are:

Blockchain Blockbusters

Mohit Pant, 28, Cyprus
Mohit is working to use blockchain technology to help farmers and small scale vendors in developing countries reduce their reliance on intermediaries to carry out transactions. His solution will also enable end customers to track products back to their original source via a distributed ledger. He plans to use his scholarship to study Hyperledger Fabric, which will assist in this effort.

Erick Poppe, 43, Bolivia
Erick is a research engineer for the Bolivian government, specializing in distributed ledger technology. He has implemented blockchain technology, including Hyperledger Fabric, to fight corruption and preserve the integrity of digital documents. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been involved in using decentralized identity to help Bolivian citizens avoid appearing in person for certain required activities. He hopes to use the knowledge gained from this scholarship to continue improving Bolivians’ lives.

Cloud Captains

Tatenda Magondo, 23, South Africa
Tatenda was not able to attend college due to financial constraints, but he persevered and taught himself enough to obtain certifications from Oracle, Cisco and Microsoft. Last year he was awarded a Google Africa Certification Scholarship, which introduced him to cloud technologies. That’s when he realized how essential Linux skills are for cloud professionals. He has since become interested in containers and Kubernetes, as well as DevOps tools including Ansible, Jenkins and Terraform. He hopes improving his cloud skills with this scholarship will help him launch a career in DevOps.

Sergey Madaminov, 33, USA
Sergey is a PhD candidate in computer science at Stony Brook University, where he conducts research into the intersection of computational biology and cloud computing using technologies as Google Protobuffers, ZeroMQ, and Ansible. He sought a LiFT scholarship in hopes of improving his cloud computing skills in order to make this work more efficient, and the resulting solutions more reliable and faster for computational biologists.

Developer Do-Gooders

Mercy Tum, 27, Kenya
Mercy is fairly new to software development, and is working to gain the skills needed to develop a website about women’s reproductive health in Kenya. Holding a degree in telecommunications engineering, Mercy has participated in programs organized by Google, Facebook and others to learn to code. She also recently began learning about cybersecurity through an internship and fell in love with it, so plans to pursue both coding and cybersecurity as a profession.

Aroma Rodrigues, 24, India
Aroma first started using open source as an undergraduate at the National Institute of Technology, Warangal, where she participated in a hackathon and helped develop “shoes for the visually impaired” which can sense obstructions. She has also worked on an open source project to extract summaries from terms and conditions in accordance with the GDPR regulations to drive privacy, security and financial literacy, and another that involved detecting propaganda from fake news. She has presented both these projects at PyCon and continues to refine them and other open source projects including using natural language processing to detect gender biases in educational texts. She hopes this scholarship will help her further leverage open source solutions for these and future projects.

Linux Kernel Gurus

Madhuparna Bhowmik, 20, India
Madhuparna is a student at the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, where she has contributed to the RCU subsystem as a part of a Linux kernel mentorship program. She is also working on fixing race-condition related bugs in Linux kernel modules reported by the Linux driver verification project. She hopes formal training in Linux kernel internals will provide her with more knowledge about the entire kernel as a whole so she can become a Linux kernel developer in future.

Mamta Shukla, 23, Switzerland
Mamta successfully completed an Outreachy internship, working with the Linux kernel community on the Linux GPU subsystem. She first contributed to the kernel under the staging tree and eventually added features in the Virtual Kernel Mode Setting driver in the Linux GPU Subsystem. She has also upstreamed test cases in the Intel GPU Tools (IGT) test suite which provides test coverage to graphics drivers, and was able to present this work at Open Source Summit 2019. She expects this scholarship to help her improve her skills so she can be a more active and effective contributor to the kernel.

Networking Notables

Shahzad Ahmed, 31, Russia
Shahzad is pursuing a Masters of Information Security and conducting research on protocols for the Internet of Vehicles for his thesis, hoping to find a fast and secure communication protocol for IoV. He has completed two internships one for an IT security company where he had the opportunity to work with CISCO and Checkpoint networking devices, like switches, LANs, VLANs, servers, endpoint security, and more. He has also conducted experiments on IoT devices by using Raspberry Pi, and Metasploit. He hopes formal networking training through this scholarship will help him learn about advanced level protection to the IoT and other networking devices.

Ammad Ud Din, 34, Pakistan
Ammad works as network administrator for the Pakistani government, managing multiple data centers, where he helped to virtualize compute functions. He intends to shift their network from a legacy vendor-based physical network to a virtual and open network platform. He hopes this scholarship will help him and the entire department to make an informed decision about how to proceed with their digital transformation.

Open Source Newbies

Gareth Walpole, 36, Australia
Gareth is a professional chef who lost his job due to the COVID-19 crisis and decided it was time for a change. He previously completed the free Intro to Linux course on edX, and since the crisis has been retrofitting old computers and installing Linux on them. He hopes to eventually develop open food service automation technologies, combining his two passions, and helping smaller food service operators to compete with the major players.

Isabel Wang, 23, USA
Isabel is a recent college graduate who learned some basic Linux commands as part of her coursework, and took it to the next level by completing the free Intro to Linux course from edX. She has created an open-source flood prediction project in Python which ingests and consolidates data from different sources of weather and flood data and implements several candidate models to predict flood occurrences and severity in a flood-prone historic trade route in the Midwest, allowing for comparison of their respective performances. She is passionate about improving public education and hopes to work on open source software that can help provide open educational resources to facilitate and increase access to all those who want to learn but would have less opportunity to do so through conventional means.

SysAdmin Super Stars

Phillip Peter, 39, Zimbabwe
Phillip has been using Linux at the University of Zimbabwe for more than 5 years for all of their IT network services. He also uses Linux to manage bandwidth at the University using Squid Proxy and SquidGuard Servers to filter content and restrict access to bandwidth intensive websites. He has done all this and more without any formal Linux training or certification. He hopes this scholarship will catapult his capabilities further.

Baboucarr Ceesay, 27, Gambia
Baboucarr works as a system administrator at the Gambia Ministry of Health. He started using Linux in 2015, and since then has used it to solve many problems, both in his community and at the Ministry of Health. He has deployed and administers servers for the Ministry of Health to host open sources data collection tools and databases for electronic medical records, human resources records and health information systems. He expects this training scholarship to help develop his Linux skills in a formal way that will positively impact his work and community.

Teens-in-Training

Victor Rodriguez Montesdeoca, 17, Spain
Victor has been training himself to become a cybersecurity expert for three years. He strongly believes there is a lack of privacy tooling and open source is the best way to address this. “First of all, I want to say that I usually use Kali Linux while resolving CTF’s. He has been involved in the Girls 4 Privacy project by Interferencias and financed by Kaspersky Lab, where he is helping to develop a tool called “Keep It Safe: Save your accounts” with his classmates. The project, which is being developed under an open source license, consists of a plug-in that will be able to sign out of accounts that the user has left open. He hopes this scholarship will help him become more active in the open source community.

Anna Smirdina, 17, Russia
Anna started programming a year ago and quickly began using Ubuntu as her primary operating system, as well as starting to use Git. This year she took part in Google Code-Inj, working on tasks provided by Systers, an AnitaB.org community. As a relative beginner, she relies on open source solutions to build out pet projects. Anna firmly believes the rapid pace of technological progress in recent times is thanks to the increase in the number of new open source solutions available, and wants to use this training to encourage more use of open source and collaborative development in Russia.

Web Development Wiz

James Arewa, 33, Nigeria
James has degrees in chemistry, but learned about web and application development thanks to the WAAW Foundation. He now trains local teens in his community in basic web development and leadership, and mentors them on how to develop themselves and their communities. He also continues to volunteer with WAAW, and plans to use the knowledge gained from this scholarship to continue mentoring young people in the community.

Aditya Sharma, 19, India
Aditya is a Linux and web enthusiast who loves contributing to and making open source web based projects. He has used open web development technologies like React, Node.js, Redux, Webpack and Mocha to make products that support entrepreneurs to keep track of their employees and organize ideas. This project has been selected in various open source programs like GirlScript Summer of Code and IIT Kharagpur, enabling him to mentor 300+ students to kickstart their journey in open source. He feels further training in web development from this scholarship will motivate him to research emerging topics like web enhancement and optimization to evolve the entire web.

Women in Open Source

Chantelle Dubois, 30, Canada
Chantelle is a recently graduated computer engineer working in an industry that tends to stick to legacy software and hardware. She has experience with the open source framework Robotic Operating System, which she has used to write packages from scratch to manage sensors such as cameras. She feels that having more familiarity, training, and expertise in open source tools will enable her to excel and stand out as an on-site expert, ease the adoption of more open source tools, and help her stand out as a woman in the industry.

Natasha Murashkina, 21, Russia
Natasha has been using Linux since high school, where she participated three times in Google Code-In, working on a Wikimedia Foundation project in Python. She has made several contributions while also taking Coursera courses on Python to enhance her skills. She also runs a project-based learning program for 60 first-year students at her university. Natasha hopes this scholarship will help her land a job related to kernel development, and also to serve as an example of a woman in open source by continuing to mentor students, especially young women.

Additional Resource
The full list of 2020 LiFT Scholarship recipients can be viewed here 
Photographs of 2020 LiFT Scholarship recipients can be downloaded here

About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org.

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see its trademark usage page: www.linuxfoundation.org/trademark-usage. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Media Contact 
Dan Brown
The Linux Foundation
dbrown@linuxfoundation.org 
415-420-7880

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