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Ten summers with Google Summer of Code

19 March 2021

This past summer, 1199 students from 66 countries were accepted into the 2020 Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program, working with nearly two hundred organizations on developing open source software. The program accepts students from all over the world, who receive stipends to write code - according to a self-defined project plan - for various open source software projects. 21 students worked with INCF’s mentors in various neuro-related research tool projects. 

Our role as mentoring organization was to recruit the mentors, vet project ideas, help pair mentors and students, follow up and generally take care of as much of the administration as possible to keep the load off our mentors. 2021 will be our eleventh year as a GSOC mentor organization, with 57 project ideas and 27 mentor teams. Many mentors have been with us several years in a row, sometimes helped by past students that have become mentors themselves. In fact, INCF’s current co-org-admin Arnab Banerjee is also a past GSoC student from an INCF project.

Why be a mentor?
“I would definitely recommend mentoring with GSoC, and with INCF” says Christine Rogers (LORIS, Canada), because of the joy of working with engaged students and for the global  mentor network. “We’ve been mentoring with INCF since 2013, and it has been a great experience” says Marcel Stimberg (Institut de la Vision, France), who is one of the main developers of the BRIAN simulator.

Why do we, INCF, keep participating in this program?
GSoC is a fantastically fun project to work with!. The students are smart, motivated and enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute to projects and tools that are needed and useful. Mentors get support for their software tool development, and the projects get new participants - many projects continue to involve the students in one way or another after the end of the stipend period, or pick up promising students who almost got accepted. It’s a great way to build the INCF community with people who will benefit from being a part of our global network. 

Why participate as a student?
Besides being a good entry into open source, and a way of getting familiar with work in academia, many students tell us they think is GSoC fun and rewarding. Sorenza Bastiaens says “I had an amazing experience in Google Summer of Code with INCF, which is my first contribution to opensource code”. S. Hussain Ather enjoyed “the experience of working in academia and science” and Ronaldo V. Nunes says“I learned a LOT about programming, open source development, and working in collaboration” and that ”the thing that I liked the most was the community”. Vigneswaran Chandrasekaran says he enjoyed starting a project from the beginning and seeing it grow.

GSOC 2020 students Sorenza Bastiaens, S Hussain Ather, Ronaldo V Nunes and Vigneswaran Chandrasekaran.

We as a mentor organization get the pleasure of helping our community to help each other and of seeing the fantastic creativity behind a lot of the projects. Participating projects are often run completely or partially unfunded, and welcome extra hands and eyes to make their tool better, faster and smarter. All improvements are open source in open source projects; openly available for others to pick up and spin on.

Ben Fulcher (U Sydney) mentored with us for the first time in 2020, and here he tells a little about his experience and impressions from the program and its impact. “I really recommend GSoC, I had a great experience”.

We recently presented INCF’s participation in GSoC 2021 in a series called “Spring ofCode” by Code of Cause. The video recording is available on Youtube, here.

We recently presented INCF’s participation in GSoC 2021 in a series called “Spring ofCode” by Code of Cause. The video recording is available on Youtube, here.