Charles Eckel Selected as Cisco Bridge Award Recipient

Today, we’re honored to announce that our very own Charles Eckel was one of ten recipients of the 2019 Cisco Bridge Award honorees, presented by our CEO Chuck Robbins. The Cisco Bridge Awards are an annual search for Cisco employees who embody our purpose, and principles. Employees who — through their daily actions — serve as a bridge between hope and what is possible.

It was a particularly special moment for me as well, given the opportunity I had to work with Charles to submit his phenomenal work in the area of industry, innovation and infrastructure, one of the tenants for the 17 United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

His work was truly inspiring enough to be named one of the very few distinguished winners – and worthy of sharing his story broadly.

Let’s Learn More about Charles

Charles Eckel is a member of the Cisco DevNet community and those of you who know him well know that he has served as one of our DevNet developer advocates for many years. In the short time I’ve worked with him as the newest member of the DevNet marketing team, I learned of his passion for open source and standards.

He is a recognized champion of open source, standards, and interoperability. Charles runs DevNet’s Open Source Dev Center at Cisco, which focuses on Cisco’s major open source contributions, use, and community engagements. He also runs Code Exchange, which helps developers discover, learn, build, and collaborate on curated GitHub projects to jumpstart work with Cisco platforms, products, APIs, and SDKs.

Charles introduced open source hackathons into the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), revolutionizing the way IETF operates and uniting open source software with standards to maximize the pace and relevance of both.

The IETF Hackathon is now an integral and growing part of each IETF meeting, and Charles has run them for the past 5 years. Though open and free for anyone to attend, participation can still be challenging for people based on location and costs associated with travel. Charles helped create and the Hackathon@AIS as a way to address these challenges for people from Africa.

His Mission: Enrich People’s Lives

Cisco has a corporate goal to positively impact 1 billion people by 2025. We are 45% of the way to our goal because of people like Charles making a personal commitment and positive contribution to the planet using innovative programs and technology. And if you know Charles, it also helps that he has a tremendous giving heart.

104 Participants across 5 Projects

Charles played a significant role with the Internet Society and AFRINIC to create the Hackathon@AIS event, which took place in Kampala, Uganda June 19-20, 2019. The Internet Society is an international organization that supports and promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people’s lives.

The African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Africa, whose mission is to provide professional and efficient distribution of Internet number resources to the African Internet community, to support Internet technology usage and development across the continent and to strengthen Internet self-governance in Africa through a bottom-up, multi-stakeholder Policy Development Process (PDP).

The spirit and success of the IETF Hackathons led the Internet Society and AFRINIC to reach out to Charles to do something similar in Africa. The result was the Hackathon@AIS. AIS is the African Internet Summit, a 2-week event held each year at various locations across Africa.

This year, approximately 400 participants applied to the Hackathon@AIS and over 100 were accepted and attended the event. They worked across five tracks with more than 50 focused on the Network Programmability track that Charles managed.

Leveraging DevNet’s Resources to Change the World

Charles introduced the participants to a number of DevNet resources, including development environment setup labs, REST and Programming Fundamentals Learning Modules and DevNet Sandboxes, all of which were used to provide a hands-on introduction to Model Driven Network Programmability.

Charles expressed to me that the Hackathon@AIS was an invaluable experience, both on a personal and a technical level. Dealing with the medical and logistical challenges associated with travel to Uganda helps one realize and appreciate the challenges a person from Africa faces on a regular basis.

Keziah Naggita, a recent graduate from Makerere University in Uganda and now a System and Software Engineer at RENU, joined the network programmability track of the hackathon. “Cisco DevNet provides programmers and network enthusiasts free access to tools and resources to test out their scripts and learn how to write clean code for network devices. It is a great community with amazing resources to become a better network engineer.”

Charles Eckel’s work on this program was nothing short of phenomenal and his commitment is unprecedented. As a DevNet team, we’re extremely proud of his recognition as a Bridge Award winner. And on a personal note, I couldn’t be more honored and inspired to work with Charles every day. The world is truly a better place with people like Charles in it.

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