Student Dylan and his experience in Google Code-in 2019



Greetings!

My name is Dylan and I’m a 14 year old high school student from the United States. A little more about me : I’m really passionate about music, especially inspiring and empowering the younger generation to pursue their interests in music. I also really enjoy technology, and some of my hobbies within this field include robotics, cybersecurity, and online puzzles. The 2019-2020 Google Code in contest was my first year competing in this open source competition. Before participating, I didn’t have that much computer science knowledge in general, so I was super excited to dive deeper in the world of programming and open source.

First, let me talk a little more about what Google Code-in is. Google Code-in is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13–17) to open source software development. Since 2010, over 8100 students from 107 countries have completed work in the contest. Because Google Code-in is often the first experience many students have with open source, the contest is designed to make it easy for students to jump right in. Open source organizations chosen by Google provide a list of tasks for students to work on during the seven-week contest period. A unique part of the contest is that each task has mentors from the organization assigned should students have questions or need help along the way.

Students choose tasks they wish to work on from the following categories: coding, documentation, training, outreach, research, quality assurance, and design. Students earn prizes for their successful completion of the tasks. If you complete three tasks, you get a Google T-Shirt. If you place within the top 20 students within your organization (based on number of tasks completed), you have a chance of placing as a finalist, runners up, or even a Grand Prize Winner! Finalists, in addition to the Google T-shirt, get a special Google Code-in jacket. Runners up, in addition to the t-shirt and jacket, get a custom google branded backpack. The Grand Prize Winner, in addition to receiving a t-shirt, jacket, and backpack, gets an all-expense paid trip for themselves and a parent to San Francisco for 5 days.

On December 2nd, 2019, the Google Code-in competition officially opened. I was super excited about learning more about open source software, and this was the perfect opportunity! Scrolling through the list of organizations and tasks, I was wondering which organization I should focus on. I then came to Liquid Galaxy, an organization that is a remarkable panoramic system which works in conjunction with the Google Earth systems. This got me intrigued, and I researched more on the topic. I found out that Liquid Galaxy isn’t just a awesome software capable of giving viewers a 360 panoramic experience, but they also developed apps for education which teach younger children about geography, space, and our world by inspiring them with an exciting experience. I knew that this was the perfect match for me, and I really wanted to help out with their journey!

Starting off the competition, I began doing bite-sized tasks to get the hang of the Liquid Galaxy organization’s expectations, and work ethic. The first few tasks that I completed were relatively easy (yet very rewarding). These tasks included designing 2d logos, such as this one that I made. This logo was made for a Liquid Galaxy project called “Internet of Espadrilles”, which specializes in data collection through activity in movement by shoes and other accessories. Fortunately, the organization and it’s mentors really liked the design, so they chose to make it the official logo for the project, which was super cool! This was my first “real” contribution to an open-source organization, and it felt great!

In Google Code-in, not all tasks are weighted equal. For example, in the Liquid Galaxy Organization, there are regular tasks, and “top” tasks. “Top” tasks will have a label in front of the name of the task, ex: Top Ten Task : Create a virtual machine Liquid Galaxy environment. Doing “top” tasks will make you specifically considered at the moment when choosing the winners. Often, these top tasks are tasks that are more essential to the organization, such as testing a new application, or demonstrating a proof of concept.

During the seven weeks of Google Code-in, completing tasks and constantly learning became my passion. I would spend every minute of my free-time (lunch, break, car rides, etc…) either researching about a topic (if a mentor was reviewing my task submission), recording a video tutorial or demonstration, programming for a task, or collaborating with the fellow participants via the Slack channel. It is the best feeling in the world waking up to an email from Google stating : “Congratulations! Your task submission has been approved!”. This feeling was the main source of drive for me during this contest, because all that work you put into learning and mastering the concept has paid off!

One of my favorite tasks that I had completed was the Top Task : Install a Liquid Galaxy Rig on a chromebook display and create quizzes for the Liquid Galaxy for Education application. Usually, Liquid Galaxy display’s are based on the Ubuntu 16.04 or 18.04 LTS operating system, because the installation uses scripts to automate most of the processes. While I was comfortable in the realm of Linux (we use it for cybersecurity images), I was a complete beginner in the world of Crouton, which essentially ables the use of scripts and unix-based applications to run parallel to the ChromeOS system that is installed on Chromebooks. In addition, I had to pair the android tablet (using ssh port, IP, etc…) to the display so it could act as a remote for the display. In my opinion, this was the hardest task that I completed during my Google Code-in Journey. Hundreds of unexpected problems came up while I was testing : the ssh port was closed on my home wifi router, so the android tablet couldn’t pair, and small bugs in the script which would cause the installation to restart multiple times, among many others. It took me 45+ hours of debugging, problem solving, and data collecting to finish up this task, but once my submission got approved, it was the most rewarding feeling in the world. Another reason why I loved this task was that I was directly contributing to an open-source project whose goal is to spread education into classrooms, and to excite the younger generation by geography quizzes. I was able to create my own android quiz, which will be used on the application.

By the end of the competition, I had officially completed 64 Google Code-in Open Source tasks, with 63 of them being Liquid Galaxy Organization tasks. One of my favorite parts about this competition is the community. Through the slack channel, Liquid Galaxy organization GCI participants could ask questions, answer questions, and collaborate to help make Liquid Galaxy the best it can be. This was such a great resource for me during the start of the contest, because I was unfamiliar with some platforms (android development, Crouton), but there were always those ready to help me. Then, later on into the competition, I became specialized in some fields, (Linux, scripts, OSC protocol) and I created video tutorials and manuals to help others in the community, as others have done to help me in the past. It was a very rewarding experience, as the Liquid Galaxy Community is so welcoming and passionate for what they do.

In addition to Google Code-in, Liquid Galaxy has other open source projects, such as Google Summer of Code, LGxEDU, and various student-led initiatives. They are a great organization for long term collaboration because of their tight and passionate community.

In conclusion, Google Code-in was one of the best experiences in my life, and I would like to thank :

Mentors-

Andreu

SachinR

TarunR

Omshi

Arnav

Karine Pistili

Marc Gonzalez

Jamile

Sreyas

Liquid Galaxy Google Code-in 2019-

Tapaswini

Winston

Matej

Merul

Kripa

Emilie

Sergi

Flevy

Iniesta

ItsSzczepan

Janiru

Konstantin

Shyngys

Praveen

Chirayu




Congratulations to my fellow Grand Prize Winner (Emilie), runners up (Kripa, Sergi), and finalists (Merul, Janiru)!

Our Team

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PARTNERS