by Ian Beardslee
January is Open Source Academy time at Catalyst HQ in Wellington.
This year we were excited to welcome 17 students from years 11-13, from schools in both Wellington and further afield. This year, 10 of those 17 were young women keen to explore a career in technology.
The Academy is an opportunity for two weeks of intensive learning and a taste of what it's like to work on an open source project.
The first week is always a challenge for the students - they're absorbing a huge amount of complex information in a very short time. It's exhausting and intellectually demanding, but great fun. As in other years, we couldn't dissuade the students from turning up early and staying late to finish their work - they were all focused on getting as much from the experience as they could.
Project mentor Aleisha, herself a former Academy participant, noted that the students, "had a really good understanding of everything already" and were very well prepared, which made it easy to work with them to build the skills they needed.
In week two the students began working on their chosen projects - this year these were again Koha, Piwik, Drupal, SilverStripe and Mahara. Working with the communities around the world and seeing their bug fixes and patches being earmarked for future releases was a huge thrill for the students and will look great on their CVs. Just under 100 patches were submitted by the students during the week.
Several participants noted that the Academy was their first exposure to a real work environment, and that it was useful to prepare them for their careers. They also told us how much fun they had!
We wish all the Academy participants well as they return to school or go on to tertiary study - we're expecting great things from them in the future.