Inspiring students for Google Summer of Code in Mauritius
Today, I skipped my lunch break to drop by for one hour in University of Mauritius ! Gavin Sathan (Lecturer for Computer Science department) had scheduled an entire room for a 40 minutes presentation at 12:10. Due to lack of communication on my side, Cyril (Debian developer currently living in Mauritius) could not make it. UoM should consider mapping the campus on both openstreetmap and/or google maps. Perhaps, that would be an interesting assignment for students.
Anoop Seburuth (A huge supporter of cyberstorm.mu since day 1) and I headed there. Anoop parked his car somewhere close to the forest. It’s a challenge to get a parking lot at 12:00 in UoM.
When I reached ELT4, Nicolas was already present. Nicolas is a Google Summer of Code mentor. His organization got a few slots this year, and he was interested to see if students might be interested. He brought his Mac laptop, but did not have the appropriate adapter. On the other hand, I had no presentation slides. I chose not to prepare any slides. Turned out that this went very well. I had my hackers.mu t-shirt, and I got at least one funny comment.
While Nicolas was more focused on Google SoC, I intervened at different intervals. I was a past student for Google SoC and shared my personal experience. Nicolas jumped right into the subject, and I could see some students getting lost already. So, I started by asking 2 questions:
- How many of you are using Linux ?
- How many of you are using Git to manage the source code for your assignments ?
I was surprised to see 10 hands raised for Linux, and 3 for Git ! As students expressed interest, Nicolas and I try to match their coding skills and Interest with relevant Organizations. We cited Drupal, Joomla, and Jquery. We had at least 2 students who showed more interest. We suggested one of them to look at applying to the Eclipse Foundation, as he was already heavily using Eclipse.
We also made it clear that it’s better to have a track record of contributing patches before applying to Google SoC. This would really help boost the strength of one’s application.
I cited the examples of Local developers who are already contributing to Linux & Open Source in Mauritius: Pirabarlen Cheenaramen, Codarren Velvindron, and Nitin Mutkawoa. Nitin deserves special mention as he learned the ropes without going to any University ! He became a contributor to Open Source through sheer will and determination.
Overall, it was an interactive session, and I look forward to see more students participating in Linux and other Open Source projects !