Code, Open Source, and Summer Love on the 17th Floor

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jon Trowbridge and Borja Sotomayor welcome students to the Google Chicago office

It's springtime in Chicago, and that can only mean one thing: time for the 3rd Annual Chicago-Area ACM-Student/Open-Source-and-Google-Summer-of-Code™ Lightning-Talks-Meetup! Ok, ok, so we haven't settled on a good name yet, although it's mostly a Google Summer of Code meetup. I say "mostly" because, although the event revolves around a series of lightning talks delivered by accepted Google Summer of Code students and by Google engineers, it is open to all students from Chicago-area universities with ACM Student Chapters. (The local ACM chapters helped to organize this event.) Roughly 70 students, mostly Computer Science undergraduates from The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago stormed the Google offices in downtown Chicago on May 7th for an evening of intercollegiate mingling and geeking out.

This year, we had three Google Summer of Code student speakers, starting with Michael Lucy from The University of Chicago:

Michael will be working on Guile this summer, as part of the GNU project. His project will involve writing a module for compiling Parsing Expression Grammars (PEGs).

Next up, Jamie Schwettmann:

Jamie is a 2009 Google Summer of Code alumna from The University of Oklahoma, but now she now lives in Chicago because her summer work for The Globus Alliance rocked so hard that the University of Chicago ended up offering her a job to continue working on Globus software! Jamie told us about her project, Project Performance characterization of GridFTP on 10+ Gigabit networks using hosts with 10 Gigabit network interface cards. She also told us not to be intimidated by the title- her summer work ended up revolving mostly around creating an automated parameter optimization utility for GridFTP. She also reflected upon her experience in Google Summer of Code, and all the wonderful things that have happened as a result of it.

Finally, Emily Brand from Loyola University Chicago:

Emily will be working for Drupal on porting QueryPath to D7.

We were also treated to talks from three Googlers G-Men who, according to them, were there for comic relief, although they also provided many insights on real-world coding. First up, Jacob Matthews told us how his views on software development have evolved since his pre-college years. Here he is shown emphasizing the importance of testing:

Next, Vijay Menon extolled the benefits of learning multiple programming languages:

And finally, Jon Trowbridge told us how relational databases are not the be-all-and-end-all of data storage and management, and how Google relies on different approaches for its own data.

Besides the talks, there was also a truly scrumtrulescent dinner:

The captive audience:

And some truly awesome views of downtown Chicago from the 17th floor where Google's conference space is located:

Many thanks to Google's Chicago office for being such an awesome host! And congratulations to our Chicago-area students for making it into Google Summer of Code!

By Borja Sotomayor, University of Chicago Ph.D. Candidate and Google Summer of Code Organization Administrator (Globus Alliance) and Mentor (OpenNebula)
Photos by Anne Celestino and Borja Sotomayor.