GSoC is a fantastic way to learn about open-source from one of the best engineers in the world. I knew I wanted to participate in 2020 which in hindsight was a fantastic decision due to everything closing down due to COVID-19.
I was accepted into Google Summer of Code 2020 at CERN-HSF. In this post I’ll talk about how I went about shortlisting organisations, contacting mentors and preparing my final proposal.
There were 199 organizations participating in GSoC 2020. Initially I had a few things I was looking for in a project:
- I had dabbled with Go before and really wanted to learn it well (I made a couple of small projects but nothing substantial)
- I wanted to work in Robotics due to my previous work with ROS and autonomous mobility
- Having participated in a few CTFs, I was also looking into info sec projects
I was initially planning on applying to 3 projects I was really interested in. I began with making a short list of 10 projects which caught my eye.
I e-mailed a few of the mentors from these projects with some questions I had. One of the first replies I had was from Teo Mrnjavac at CERN-HSF. The project itself, Workflow Configuration Import and Validation for AliECS, dealt with automating a critical step of the ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Control Systems. That immediately had me excited since working at the Large Hadron Collider was über cool. This is not something I wanted to miss out on!
Being extremely excited about the project, I read the project page and even found a paper regarding the upgrade of the O2. I emailed the mentor, Teo Mrnjavac, with a couple of questions and he replied promptly. He informed me before I could begin work I needed to pass a qualification task. The task itself was comparing if YAML file is valid against a schema. Looking back it seems like a trivial piece of code but that’s a testament to how much I learned during GSoC. It took a bit of Google-Fu and soon I had a working implementation. I sent my work to the mentor and he informed me that he was satisfied. Soon after:
Preparing the Proposal
I went through a bunch of proposals from previous years. Teo also sent me a rough structure of what a good proposal should look like.
Nearing the end of the submission deadline, I was pretty positive that this is the project I wanted to work on. I did not end up making any other proposals.
I shared a Google Docs link with the mentor, Teo, and he proposed a ton of suggestions. This also cleared up some misunderstandings about the goal of the project and let us discuss the scope properly.