Google Code-in: sixteen and counting
Today we have a guest post from Chirayu Desai, one of the twenty amazing teenagers from around the globe who took top honors in Google Code-in 2013. Read more about Chirayu and his introduction into the world of open source software below.
If I told you a 16 year-old kid could work on software which runs on millions of devices, contribute to an operating system which is present on more than a billion devices, and work on code that goes into spacecraft, would you believe it?
Believe it! I am that very 16 year-old writing this blog post three months after visiting the Googleplex in California (a long-time dream) as one of the 20 grand prize winners of Google Code-in 2013 (GCI). Check me out on a Segway! I’m the one on the right.
I first read about GCI online, and I immediately decided to participate. I felt that it was the perfect opportunity for me to not only get involved in an open source project but also get to know new people. I chose RTEMS because I liked their hello world task — it involved setting up a development environment for RTEMS, compiling a test program, and running it in a simulator.
So what is involved when completing tasks for GCI? It isn’t just about writing code, but also really understanding the code and contributing back to it. While working with an open source organization, you have to ensure that the code quality meets the project’s guidelines. The code must be as accurate and efficient as possible — no quick hacks here.
As an open source contributor, I worked with version control systems (they’re awesome, really), mailing lists (old school, but still effective) and code review systems. I then got feedback from my mentors, applied it, rinsed and repeated. The exciting part wasn’t just the coding process, but everything associated with working on such a project. I wrote the code, wrote tests for the code, read and closed bug reports, collaborated with other people, etc. It’s much more in depth than what I would experience with a personal project and I learned a ton!
As a high school student you may have worked on a personal project in your spare time, or maybe you even know a few coding languages. But I believe working with open source projects and participating in GCI gives you much more. I now know that when I get a job one day, I won’t just have to write code, I’ll also have to get it reviewed, and review other people’s code. This is not something you learn by working on personal projects, but by working collaboratively — something I practiced and refined by participating in GCI. In addition, the mentors assigned to help students were very supportive would help us students with everything that we needed which was really encouraging.
I really enjoyed participating in the contest. Even though I had worked on open source software before, my Google Code-in experience was completely different from anything I’d ever done. Flying halfway across the world and getting to meet the people with whom I had worked was something I didn’t imagine would ever happen. Every 13-17 year old pre-university student has the opportunity to participate in GCI, you just need to take that first step. Then you too can be a part of something that could change your life — I know it changed mine.
By Chirayu Desai, Google Code-in Grand Prize Winner, 2013
Are you interested in participating in Google Code-in this year? Keep an eye on the program website for important dates and information.