GCI winners trip 2014 report
I'm reporting from San Francisco today. This week I was visiting Google, meeting with the two winner students from Google Code-In as well as the students and mentors from the 11 other organizations participating in GCI.
In case you missed it: GCI is a program run by Google for 13-17 year old children. The goal of the program is to introduce them to open source software and get them contributing there, and to get them interested in computer science in general.
The students have to pick one of the 12 participating open source projects and complete tasks for it. At the end of the contest, each project picks two winners from the participating students. The winners get to visit Google and the San Francisco area this week.
The students also get to meet a mentor from each organization during that week. Since our first participartion in 2010, Scott McCreary has been doing this, but this year we decided to ask the winning students who they would like to meet. And they both picked me.
Our two winning students also were from Europe: Puck Meerburg from the Netherlands, and Josef Gajdusek from Czech republic. I met with Puck in Amsterdam airport as I arranged to be in the same plane to San Francisco. After a long but uneventful flight, we landed safely and checked in at the hotel.
We met with Josef and the other students and mentors in the Hotel lobby where there was a "meet and greet" reception in the evening. Students were given a list of traits ("sings in a choir", "can speak 3 or more languages fluently", etc) and had a few minutes to find as much students and mentors as possible matching the traits. This was a good way for the students to get to know each other and the mentors a bit. We then stayed in the hotel lobby for some discussion or hacking.
The next day we had to wake up rather early in order to board a bus to Mountain View, where we spent the day in Google headquarters. We ran around the complex in the bus, then there were talks from several people from different projects at Google: self driving cars, project Tango, a talk about Internet and TCP/IP by a Samba developer, and a talk about Nest. We also visited Google's visitor center (or rather, a "beta" verion of it) and the Google Store where you can buy T-Shirts and other Google branded objects.
On Tuesday was the "fun day". We split into 3 groups for different activities. The first visited Alcatraz island, the second went for a Segway tour of San Francisco, and the third visited the Exploratorium, which is a science (and arts) museum hosted in one of the piers in SF port, mostly above the water. We later met for lunch in a park by the sea, and boarded the bus once again to visit the Golden Gate bridge. The day ended with a Yacht course accross the bay, and we could enjoy a beautiful view of San Francisco from there.
The third day was hosted in Google San Francisco office, very near the hotel, to avoid the very long bus trip to Mountain View (and also because this is where the open source programs office is actually hosted). We had one last talk from a Google project, this time about YouTube, and the rest of the day, each mentor gave a short talk about his project and some highlights of the work done during GCI.
These 3 days were a good way to advertise Haiku to some more people, meet members of other projects, and also meet the two winning students in real life (although I already knew Puck from BeGeistert). And it was also a great way to discover the San Francisco area, since I never was there before. We got an official announcement that there will be a GCI in 2015, which is good news. I don't know if I'll be representing Haiku there again, as I think it was a good idea to ask the students who they wanted to see. We will probably do that again.