Progress report - one month into my new venture

Sep 27, 2010

As I had mentioned somewhere else on this blog, I began my new venture of mentoring B.Tech completed students on August 25. The ideas was to take in motivated students, build up their FOSS skills by making them write code/solve problems full-time, and try to use whatever contacts I have with friends and former students in the FOSS community/industry to get them placed with companies who need capable programmers.

The first (and biggest) hurdle in such a venture is getting good students. There are a lot of "placement assured" courses in the market and many students approach them as a short-cut to get a "job" in the IT industry. For my first batch, I was fortunate to get a bunch of sensible guys who were willing to sit down and focus hard on problem-solving.

And, I am happy to say, the result shows.

I had a few students diving into SICP , trying to understand the metacircular evaluator presented in chapter 4, and rewriting it in Python.

One of the Electronics students did a SciPy re-implementation of her B.Tech project on the Fractional Fourier Transform; a few others are learning image processing with SciPy.

In order to understand how a virtual machine actually works, a few students studied the code of theTinyPython VM and wrote a report.

Some of the students had fun implementing a tiny LOGO system in Python and using it to draw fractals

There are a few guys who love doing web-applications - they had fun playing with the Google App-Engine, HTML5 Canvas and JQuery. and also Ruby on Rails.

Some of the Electronics guys are working on Phoenix, they did a demo of the device at the Free Software in Education conference held at NIT Calicut recently.

After a month of general programming-and-problem solving (mostly with Python), a few students have decided that they would like to focus on C/algorithms/embedded/systems stuff while others have decided to focus more on applications. I will post about the progress of this effort in 2 week's time.

All these Engineering graduates are from a very ordinary government college in Kerala - as a mentor, I wish to make sure that these guys get something better than an Infy or a TCS. You, dear reader, can help me a lot by letting me know when you come across companies scouting for FOSS talent.

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