Students working hard on Open Source projects at the Facebook headquarters during the Open Academy hackaton event.

More than 250 students, faculty and mentors met on February 6—9 for the launch event of the Facebook Open Academy program, allowing students from 25 participating universities worldwide to gain academic credit for participating in Open Source development as part of their computer science curricula. The event organized by Facebook at their Palo Alto headquarters allowed the student teams to meet their mentors from the Open Source development groups and sit down for two-and-a-half days of intensive coding and socialization, providing the students with an immersive introduction to the world of distributed development.

I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in that program as a mentor on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation (alongside colleagues and volunteers leading five Wikimedia-related projects). I returned impressed and invigorated by the energy and dedication of the students. The program is often the first taste of “real world” interaction with a development team that those students will get, and I am glad to note that the experience seemed to be an universally positive one.

For most students, the launch event is just the beginning: their work with the teams they have joined will continue throughout their academic session, and the benefits will last even longer as they make contacts in the Open Source world and gain invaluable experience with the sometimes daunting process of contributing to small and large development efforts.

Events like this are a great way to stimulate the Open Source ecosystem. We look forward to joining Facebook again in their future editions of the Open Academy program.

— Marc-André Pelletier, Operations Enginneer, Wikimedia Foundation