At last week's 2007 Software Innovation Summit, Christophe Bisciglia from Google introduced to the attendees Google 101. Google has just recently developed this curriculum which Google staff, namely Christophe, if my understanding is correct, has been working with University of Washington to deliver these courses. Now Google would like to see if there is any interest at Tsinghua and Beida, perhaps even Shanghai JiaoTong.
The rational behind Google developing curriculum is that as a major recruiter they have seen too many graduates entering the workforce with too little of an understanding of distributed systems, and in particular parallel processing machines. During Christophe's presentation he showed us several pictures of the evolution of Google's serving environment, from eight hastily thrown together PCs to form a cluster, to a warehouse full of the most tightly packed racks I have ever seen. These racks were by no means hastily thrown together; they were the most space efficient rack installations I had ever seen. Christophe further went on to show how Google worked with vendors to specially develop hard drives and other such server components.
Sorry if I digress, but it is important to note the investment Google has made in its infrastructure and the concern they have about graduates entering the workforce who are unprepared to contribute to their systems. It is also worth noting that China is a prime battle ground for Google and Microsoft. Microsoft alone does two recruitment rounds a year at the top technology universities, sitting 5,000 students at a time into a gym and having them take handwritten programming examinations. I guess in order to one up Microsoft, the next best thing Google can do is educate the graduates before they sign up for any recruitment tests.
As to the open source movement in China, Google plays two very important roles. It is making an early investment to open students' minds up to experiment more with open source technologies, and secondly, even if these students don't go work for Google, they will be well prepared to contribute to community and Internet related projects--and that Google will indirectly benefit from.