This week we profile three more grand prize winners from Google Code-in 2015. These students came from all around the world to celebrate with us in June after successfully completing 692 tasks that resulted in significant contributions to the participating open source projects.
Students were paired with mentors who guided them as they learned both new technologies and how to collaborate on real-world projects. While most students had some programming experience, many were new to open source. In the end, they learned new skills, connected with open source communities and many will continue to contribute to open source projects.
We’re proud of all of the participants and grateful to the mentors who helped them. We invited the contest winners to write about their experience and many took us up on the offer. Here are their stories:
First up today is Imran Tatriev, a student from Kazakhstan who decided to work on the KDE project because loved their philosophy and had experience with C++ and Qt. He was a finalist in Google Code-in 2014 when he worked with the OpenMRS project.
Imran’s work on KDE included contributing to projects such as KDevelop, Marble and GCompris. His biggest challenge was working on the KDevelop IDE’s debugger where he was tasked with highlighting crashed threads. Highlighting the crashed thread was trivial, finding the thread that had crashed was not. It took him five days to solve that problem and he credits his mentor with helping him to work through it.
In the end, Imran learned a lot about regular expressions, the architecture of large software projects, C++ and unit testing. What did he like most about his Google Code-in experience? Imran writes: “The most valuable moments were meeting wonderful and smart people.” He plans to continue working with KDE and apply for Google Summer of Code.
Next is Caroline Gschwend, a student from the US who worked on the MetaBrainz project. Both of her parents are computer scientists and she credits them with spurring her interest.
A homeschool student with a unique approach to education, Caroline loves to learn and voraciously consumes free online resources. She had this to say: “I think that free, online learning is an amazing benefit to our society. With access to a computer and the internet, anyone, anywhere, can learn anything.”
Caroline discovered Google Code-in through her mother who had, in turn, discovered the contest through Google for Education. Caroline dug in and decided it was right up her alley. She loved that it embraced beginners with open arms and introduced new people to open source. Ultimately, she decided to work with MetaBrainz because, as a classically trained violinist, MusicBrainz piqued her interest. Their projects are primarily written in Perl and Python and, while Caroline was fluent in Java, it was too interesting to pass up.
As with most students, Caroline found collaboration to be a big part of the learning curve — from GitHub to Git and IRC. Her mentors and other community contributors on IRC helped Caroline through the process and, looking back, she found that collaboration to be her favorite part of the whole experience. She loved that the mentors helped her to produce professional quality work rather than focusing on quantity.
Google Code-in gave Caroline a chance to learn about collaboration, Inkspace, icon design, web development and more. She has continued her work in open source and plans to apply for Google Summer of Code.
The last student we’re highlighting today is Vale Tolpegin, a student from the US who worked on the Haiku project, an open source operating system for personal computers. He also participated in Google Code-in 2014 but didn’t feel his skills were sharp enough to attack the more challenging tasks, like the ones he tackled this time around for Haiku.
Vale took on a wide range of tasks from documentation to application development, his favorite being the creation of the Haiku Hardware Repository. The repository is a Django website that lets people search and share hardware tests to determine if a given machine will work with Haiku.
He ran into a sticky issue early on, spending nearly a week finding a race condition within an application maintained by Haiku. Vale found it frustrating, but his mentors helped him see it through to the end. That wasn’t the only big challenge he ran into and, ultimately, bested: he spent another week debugging a Remote Desktop Application, software which had a very large code base.
Despite the two time consuming challenges, Vale managed to accomplish a lot more during the contest, including building a graph plotter and fixing bugs in the Haiku package manager. Vale had this to say:
“After finishing GCI, I have continued to work with Haiku and the experiences I have gained will continue to have an impact on me for years to come. Participating in GCI has truly been a life-changing experience!”
Thank you to Imran, Caroline and Vale for their contributions to open source and for sharing their Google Code-in experiences with us. Stay tuned, we’ve got two more posts coming in this series!
By Josh Simmons, Open Source Programs Office