Tag Archives: students

Last call for Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute applications

Applications for Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) and the Generation Google Scholarship close on Monday, Mar 18. Submit your application today!

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a CSSIer? Meet Jonathan James Mshelia, Tarik Brown, and Kaycee Tate — three CSSI students from this past summer here to share their CSSI experiences and give any CSSI/Generation Google applicant (we’re lookin’ at you!) a better idea of what’s to come.
Jonathan is currently a junior at Medgar Evers College. He grew up in Nigeria and moved to America to pursue an education in computer science. When he’s not glued to the computer screen, he’s usually hanging out with friends or learning a new language.
Tarik is now a freshman at the University of Notre Dame (Go Irish!) where he intends to double major in Computer Science and Economics. He has a deep love for jazz and the world of technology (especially robotics). Tarik lost hearing in his right ear when he was young and explains that he is, “quite grateful for this disability because it made me into the dedicated and motivated person that I am today.”
Kaycee grew up in Alabama and is currently attending Xavier University of Louisiana. If she’s not studying for her double major (Computer Science and Computer Engineering) or working on campus, she enjoys quiet time reading, coloring, or researching things that interest her — currently it’s investing and digital currency.

What motivated you to apply to CSSI?

Kaycee: I knew that I wanted to expand my mind as much as possible before getting to college so that I was prepared — not only in actual programming and coding skills, but also in the ability to think creatively and share my perspective in innovative ways. I definitely believe that the CSSI experience gave me a chance to do that.

Tarik: From as early as I can remember, I was always interested in how things worked. This inclination to enjoy knowing the inner workings of everything that I worked with steered me into the direction of the tech world and introduced me to Computer Science.

Jonathan: My passion for computers and my attitude towards learning were the driving forces behind my choice to join the Google CSSI program. Before CSSI, I only tried to learn the syntax of a programming language and I did not necessarily know how to apply what I learned to make anything, but during the CSSI program I put these programming languages into proper use and I began to see it differently.

What do you wish you’d known before you arrived at Google for CSSI?

Tarik: A valuable lesson that I learned from Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute was that I am much more capable than I give myself credit for. Imposter Syndrome is real and it affects many, I wish I had known that there was no reason to doubt myself and CSSI definitely gave me a more positive outlook upon my ability and self worth.

Jonathan: Upon getting started at Google CSSI I had some experience with a few front end technologies and that gave me the ability to learn more and improve my skills. The learning experience was fun so I never thought about wishing I knew more than I already knew.

Kaycee: Before going to CSSI, I wish I had truly understood that it didn’t matter how much you knew about computer science and programming prior to the experience. Of course the FAQs and application mentioned that, but truly processing that and just hearing it are two different things.

Can you tell us how the CSSI experience has impacted you?

Jonathan: The CSSI experience opened my eyes to the possibilities technology has to offer. I now understand the internal workings of the web — how the front-end and back-end worked hand in hand to give a fully functioning website. This helped me at college because I was able to accomplish more in terms of applying my knowledge to school work.

Kaycee: CSSI isn’t just about computer science — I feel like CSSI promotes the idea that to be good in anything you do, you first have to know yourself, what you’re striving for, and what you want to get out of every experience you are able to partake in.

Tarik: The knowledge I gained from CSSI was truly invaluable. We delved into the world of web development and received instruction on front-end and back-end web development. We ran the gauntlet when it came to learning multiple programming languages as we learned HTML/CSS, JavaScript and Python — all essential tools in web development. Also, we learned how to utilize the Google Cloud Engine which is actually used to run well known applications such as Snapchat. With this we were able to create our own web application from scratch and it was truly an amazing experience. Not only did I gain a wealth of technical skills, I also acquired essential soft skills that involved collaboration in small teams and being able to explain my work to others. We learned how to tactfully use version control with Github and focused on team based work. In the end, we presented our projects to the entire office of Google Software Engineers.

Reminder: applications for Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) and the Generation Google Scholarship close on Monday, Mar 18. Submit your application today!

Black History Month Pay It Forward Challenge: Recognizing students making a difference (Part 2)

In honor of Black History Month, Google hosted a Pay It Forward Challenge to recognize Black student leaders who are advancing opportunities for their local communities. After receiving so many submissions we’re excited to share the work of the students below and hope you’ll be inspired by their stories. Stay tuned for more features over the next few weeks!

Abdullaah Robins
Abdullaah is student at Boston University and teaches 3rd and 5th graders in Boston Public Schools coding and robotics. “I teach the 3rd graders ‘scratch’ which is an elementary coding language to start with and learn basic engineering principles. For the 5th graders, I teach them more complex engineering principles with the Lego EV3 robots which allow the students to build mechanical engineering skills and programming skills. As a STEM Instructor, I have the ability to inspire young students and prepare them for careers in STEM.”

Alongside teaching, Abdullaah also serves on the executive board for BU NSBE and the organizing board for the annual conference, BUNITED.

 Abdullaah’s advice to others
“When deciding on what you want to do or what initiative you want to take, look towards the things that bother you — those are the things you will be more passionate about and more times than not those things bother others in the community.”

What inspires Abdullaah about Black History Month
“Apart from the history I'm focused on creating meaningful dialogue on improving and advancing as a community which means having purposeful conversations about issues in the community and finding creative ways to push Black advancement in marginalized spaces.”

Miriam Duen 
Miriam is currently attending North Carolina Central University where she dedicates her time to improving her community as well as the lives of her fellow student athletes. Miriam focuses on educating and empowering student athletes at her school and community centers by helping create internship and job opportunities for student-athletes and teaching the importance and ability to excel both as a scholar and athlete.

“I have helped build houses, plant trees, clean up trash, and teach the Durham community. I have spoken with kids on what it's like to attend college as well as how to excel as a student athlete. I have devoted my time to giving back to the community through various programs such as the Ronald McDonald Charity House, Durham Boys and Girls Club, Seeds Local Garden, and the Durham Rescue Mission. I would just like people to see the importance of peer to peer mentoring.”

Miriam’s advice to others
“It starts with you. Give back as much as you can, doing whatever you can.  It doesn't matter if people do not believe in your dream — believe in your own dreams and work towards them. It's the little things that matter most.”

George Hostetter 
George is currently a student at Menlo College. He uses both his technical and public speaking skills to aid and educate his community.

“I created an app called CopStop, inspired by Trayvon Martin. This app’s purpose is to inform users how to behave when interacting with police officers, and sends your location to an emergency contact when you get pulled over. Throughout the development of this application I’ve spoken to civil rights attorneys, civil rights activists, sociologists, and the commanding staff of multiple police departments. A year after the app was accepted into the app store, I was invited to speak at Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights camp in South Florida to over 300 youth of color. After the camp I got to meet Trayvon's mom, Sybrina Fulton, and the first thing she did was give me the warmest hug. She shared words of encouragement that I'll hold close for the rest of my life and that motivation is what drives me to create real change through technology.”

What inspires George about Black History Month
“The concept of Afro-Futurism has been on my mind as of recently. It's a complex term that some have trouble defining but I explain Afro-Futurism as a mentality — looking into the future with a focus on Black inclusion, technology, and the heights we as a community can reach. I describe the afro-futurist mentality as understanding that to truly pay homage to your ancestors you need to be a disruptive innovator of the future and abandon trying finding comfort in the past. Afro-Futurism is designing your future with the absence of discrimination and society's stereotypes. That's a future worth working towards.”

Kehinde Totoola
Kehinde is currently attending QueenMaris College and using the knowledge he is acquiring to give back by teaching classes to those who may not be able to afford them otherwise.
“I am always passionate in helping other people learn better which led to my activities engaging young teenagers (living in low income areas) into the tech world by providing coding classes to them at their schools or any other open center conducive for learning. This was achievable with the support of an organization, TeensCanCode, whose main goal is to provide technology to everyone.”

Kehinde has been able to reach over 300 students across 9 schools in his community. “These teenagers can now build a complete website from scratch — that’s my JOY.”

Kehinde’s advice to others:
"Someday is not a day of the week.”

Keep up with us on social (TwitterInstagramFacebook, and YouTube) to hear more about our initiatives.

Black History Month Pay It Forward Challenge: Recognizing students making a difference

In honor of Black History Month, Google hosted a Pay It Forward Challenge to recognize Black student leaders who are advancing opportunities for their local communities. After receiving so many submissions we’re excited to share the work of the students below and hope you’ll be inspired by their stories. Stay tuned for more features over the next few weeks!

Blessing Adogame

Blessing is the co-founder of the Students of LinkedIn movement at Drexel University. This campaign started as a hashtag, and “ bloomed into a global community of students who encourage each other to find their voice, expose the limitless opportunities that they can find/create, and educate each other on the importance of personal branding as college students.”

"I wanted to create this community, because there is power in lifting others as we climb. Through my posts, I have been able to serve as an example of how a college student can provide value to industry professionals around the world and have garnered an audience of more than 5,000 students. Students of LinkedIn equips students with resources such as monthly webinars and organic video content that teaches how to connect with professionals and land/create that dream job.”

Blessing’s advice to others:
“Find joy in learning from your mistakes, knowing that it leads to growth. There is power in starting, failing at something, and learning from it."

 What inspires Blessing about Black History Month:
“As a community, it’s important to celebrate the sacrifices that our ancestors made. Sacrifices, that have enabled us to be able to do what we do/want to do with our lives. It’s important to be gracious towards those have made sacrifices for us - those from the past and those from the present. Growth equals success. As a community, we need to continue to grow and strengthen as we display black excellence and unity."

Natsai Ndebele

Natsai is currently a student at Georgia State University. She is the co-founder of Our Journey Through Code and a mentor with organizations such as Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code.  Natsai started her non-profit, Journey Through Code with a purpose of, “increasing diversity in technology, especially for women and underrepresented minorities."

“By highlighting the many faces in technology, I hope to inspire more minorities to enter the tech world, break stereotypes and biases, and build a community for us with mentors while creating inclusion.”

Natsai’s advice to others:
“The best time to start is now. You don't have to wait to get a team or gain resources or recognition, just do it. When I started, I didn't have much but I had knowledge that could be passed on. So I volunteered with organizations with missions aligned to my cause, and I reached out to people to hold events, panels, or workshops to teach girls how to code.”

 What inspires Natsai about Black History Month:
“I'm really excited to celebrate being black, and highlight all the people that have contributed to the black community. There is still so much that we need to work on as a community, and so many challenges we still face, and I want this focus on building on our community to last beyond a month or just a hashtag.”

Alysa Miller

Alysa is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago after recieving her Master’s in Public Health from New York University. Alysa has always had a passion for finding ways to improve health within underrepresented communities, including in her hometown of Detroit, MI. 

"Through these educational and professional experiences I have had the opportunity to engage in a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to learning about contributing to social change and promoting health equity. Specifically, my passion for food and improving the world’s diet, particularly in minority communities, has influenced my interest in learning the different approaches communities take toward food policy, food culture, and health disparities.

As I have made advancements on my career path, I have noticed the scarcity in strong female, minority, role models in the health sciences fields. Because of my experiences as a woman of color, I feel it is my duty to serve as a scholarly role model for future minority scholars in the health sciences field”

Alysa’s advice to others:
“Wise words I strive to live by are, 'make data driven decisions.' I would tell that person to do their share of research to make their dream a reality through decisions driven by data. Numbers carry weight and having others to bounce ideas off of and stimulate meaningful conversation goes a long way. Also when collaborating, engage the community. Educate and empower them, and strive for sustainability."

 What inspires Alysa about Black History Month:
“In our current political climate, it’s especially crucial for young minorities to see minorities old and young making impactful change and positive social contributions. The internet and mainstream media have allowed all sorts of messages to come into our daily lives, and many of us over time become desensitized to the negativity and hatred spanning our world. Utilizing a platform as influential as Google to acknowledge, promote, and encourage commitment to community serves as a reminder of what Black History Month (and those who fought for equality) embodies – particularly at a time when diversity and inclusion are needed most.”

Rayna Dunham
Rayna is both a student and a teacher. She is a high school biology teacher and a member of the Greater New England Alliance of Black School Educators while she simultaneously attends Central Connecticut State University. On top of that she volunteers at the Legacy Foundation of Hartford, a local food pantry.

“Upon completing an internship as a public health educator at the age of nineteen, I made the decision to become a high school biology teacher in an urban setting. I specifically wanted to work in an urban setting to serve as a role model for my students impacted by the vision gap disallowing them the privilege of being educated by a black teacher in a core subject area. I quickly learned that being a black teacher is more than just teaching the curriculum. I dedicate myself to each scholar’s academic success by being present every week and instilling a love of science into every potential doctor and engineer I teach.”

Rayna’s advice to others:
“Become a member of an existing organization that aligns with your goals and devote your time to improving it or expanding it with your resources. The most valuable gift you can give someone is your time.”

What inspires Rayna about Black History Month:
“I will use my postgraduate education to create generational change by disseminating my research in the community at large and investing in future teachers. Black History Month makes me reflect on the current realities of the world and inspires me to combat them in my classroom by teaching and furthering my own education. I will be the change this world needs by any means necessary."

Saba Tshibaka
Saba is currently a student at the University of Maryland, College Park. On and off campus, Saba participates in multiple organizations. She is the founder of the Jeopardy! Club, a computer literacy tutor in BcauseIcan, part of the University of Maryland Black Student Union's Big/Little Mentoring Program, and an ambassador for the Academic Achievement Program.

“At the Jeopardy! Club meetings, we invite not only students, but staff, faculty, and most importantly neighborhood/community members. It brings me great joy to be the president of an organization whose mission statement is to, 'commemorate the wealth of ALL of our knowledge!'"

Saba’s advice to others:
“My advice to someone looking to make an impact in their local community is focus on what you're passionate about! I've been watching Jeopardy since I was 7 with my family, and one of my biggest dreams was to act like Alex Trebek in Jeopardy, and now I get to do that monthly in a group run by my closest friends! Anything is possible if you try your hardest and believe in your work. Having a positive mindset makes the biggest difference.”

 What inspires Saba about Black History Month:
“Something on my mind as we enter Black History month is how to better combat stereotypes against minority groups. So far I've just been trying to work as hard as I can to be the opposite of what people think I am. As a young black woman, I've gone to college, held countless jobs, and work to support my family as well as myself while staying hopeful."

Keep up with us on social (TwitterInstagramFacebook, and YouTube) to hear more about our initiatives.

And the Google Summer of Code 2019 mentor organizations are…

We are excited to announce the open source projects and organizations that have been accepted for Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019, the 15th year of the program! As usual, we received more applications this year than we did last year, about twice as many as we are able to accept into the program.

After careful review, we have chosen 207 open source projects to be mentor organizations this year, 28 of which are new to the program. Please see the program website for a complete list of the accepted organizations.

Are you a student interested in participating? We begin accepting student applications on Monday, March 25, 2019 at 18:00 UTC and the deadline to apply is Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 18:00 UTC.

The most successful applications come from students who start preparing now. You can start by watching the short video below, checking out the Student Guide, and reviewing the list of accepted organizations and reaching out to the 2 or 3 that interest you the most now - before the application period begins.

You can find more information on our website, including a full timeline of important dates. We also highly recommend perusing the FAQ and Program Rules and watching the short videos with more details about GSoC for students and mentors.

A hearty congratulations–and thank you–to all of our mentor organizations! We look forward to working with all of you during Google Summer of Code 2019.

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source

Dive into computer science with Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)

Opportunities are live for the 2019 Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) and the Generation Google Scholarship (both available to graduating high school seniors in the US or Canada). Learn more about both programs below and apply before March 18!

Google's Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) is a three-week introduction to computer science (CS) for graduating high school seniors with a passion for technology — especially students from historically underrepresented groups in the field.
The program includes:

  • A specially designed project-based curriculum that includes HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python and Google App Engine to help prepare students for their first year of college CS
  • Daily development sessions to help you prepare for future job opportunities
  • An opportunity to interact directly with Google engineers
  • Exposure and insight into Google’s internship programs and technical career opportunities
  • Exposure and insight into Google’s internship programs and technical career opportunities

The Generation Google Scholarship helps aspiring computer scientists from underrepresented groups excel in technology and become leaders in the field. Selected students will receive 10,000 USD (for those studying in the US) or 5,000 CAD (for those studying in Canada) for the 2019-20120 school year. Please note, only CSSI applicants will be considered for the Generation Google Scholarship.

Where & When
We offer several options for CSSI depending on where you may be attending school. You can find more details on location here. Most of our programs run from June - August 2019.

Any high school senior who plans to attend a four year institution in the US or Canada, has a passion for technology, and intends to enroll in a computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or related department for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Google is committed to increasing the enrollment and retention of students in the field of computer science. CSSI is not your average summer camp. It's an intensive, interactive, hands-on, and fun program that seeks to inspire the tech leaders and innovators of tomorrow by supporting the study of computer science, software engineering, and other closely-related subjects.

Visit the Google CSSI page for more information and to apply. The application deadline is Monday, March 18 at 11:59 pm PST. Final decisions will be announced in mid-to-late May.

Give us a shout at cssi@google.com or generationgoogle@google.com.

The Ultimate Guide to Hash Code 2019

Looking for your next programming challenge? Google’s flagship team coding competition, Hash Code, is back and registration is now open! The sixth (and first global) edition is bound to be bigger than ever. In the past, contestants have attempted to optimize the layout of a Google data center and transport commuters via self-driving cars. This February, developers of all skill levels will flex their coding muscles, get a glimpse into software engineering at Google, and have some fun (oh, and did we mention potentially win $4,000 USD?). Follow our top tips to make the most of Hash Code 2019:

Tip 1: Mark your calendars. Hash Code kicks off with an Online Qualification Round on Thursday, February 28th from 17:30 to 21:30 UTC. Top teams from the Online Qualification Round will then progress to April’s Final Round, hosted at Google Ireland, where they’ll compete for the title of Hash Code 2019 Champion. Check out last year’s Final Round highlights video to get a sense of the action!

Tip 2: Form a team. To compete in Hash Code, you’ll need to form a team of 2 to 4 people. Your team can be made up of classmates, peers, coworkers, friends, strangers, or – a combination! No matter your team composition, be sure to connect with your team before the contest to talk strategy, preferred programming languages, and, of course, come up with an awesome team name. Not sure where to find teammates (or just looking to connect with other Hash Coders)? Join our Facebook group or Google+ page to connect with the Hash Code community.

Tip 3: Get your team ready. Hash Code problems are modeled after real Google engineering challenges – and just like the problems that Google engineers tackle, there is no one right way to solve them! Instead, each round of the competition is designed as a battle of heuristics, meaning there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Hash Code’s optimization problems allow your team to approach the challenge in many different ways – and the best way to get comfortable with this type of coding is to practice. Use the Hash Code archive to hold a practice session with your team.

Tip 4: Join a hub. Hubs are locally-organized meetups that allow teams to compete side-by-side during the Online Qualification Round. These meetups are hosted by fellow Hash Coders at universities, coworking spaces, and company offices all around the world. Competing from a hub adds even more excitement to the Online Qualification Round and is a great way to meet new people plus strengthen your local developer community. Check out hubs in your area and be sure to join one before they fill up. Think you might be interested in organizing a hub? Learn more and apply.

Tip 5: Have fun. Whether you’re competing from a hub or from home with your team, or whether this is your first Hash Code or your sixth, the best part of Hash Code is the exciting, fun environment and community! Show Hash Coders around the world how your team is getting ready for the competition using #HashCode on social media.

If you’re up for the challenge, be sure to register at g.co/hashcode by February 25th. Follow these tips and who knows, maybe we’ll see you in Dublin for the Final Round!

Seeking open source projects for Google Summer of Code 2019

Do you lead or represent a free or open source software organization? Are you seeking new contributors? (Who isn’t?) Do you enjoy the challenge and reward of mentoring new developers? Apply to be a mentor organization for Google Summer of Code 2019!

We are searching for open source projects and organizations to participate in the 15th annual Google Summer of Code (GSoC). GSoC is a global program that draws university student developers from around the world to contribute to open source. Each student spends three months working on a coding project, with the support of volunteer mentors, for participating open source organizations from late May to August.

Last year 1,264 students worked with 206 open source organizations. Organizations include individual smaller and medium sized open source projects as well as a number of umbrella organizations with many sub-projects under them (Python Software Foundation, CERN, Apache Software Foundation).

You can apply to be a mentoring organization for GSoC starting today. The deadline to apply is February 6 at 20:00 UTC. Organizations chosen for GSoC 2019 will be publicly announced on February 26.

Please visit the program site for more information on how to apply and review the detailed timeline of important deadlines. We also encourage you to check out the Mentor Guide and our short video on why open source projects choose to apply to be a part of the program.

Best of luck to all of the project applicants!

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source

The big reveal: Google Code-in 2018 winners and finalists

Our 9th consecutive year of Google Code-in (GCI) 2018 ended in mid-December. It was a very, very busy seven weeks for everyone – we had 3,124 students from 77 countries completing 15,323 tasks with a record 27 open source organizations!

Today, we are pleased to announce the Google Code-in 2018 Grand Prize Winners and Finalists with each organization. The 54 Grand Prize Winners from 19 countries completed an impressive 1,668 tasks between them while also helping other students during the contest.

Each of the Grand Prize Winners are invited to a four day trip to Google’s main campus and San Francisco offices in Northern California where they’ll meet Google engineers, meet one of the mentors they worked with during the contest, and enjoy some fun in California with the other winners. We look forward to seeing everyone later this year!
Country # of Winners Country # of Winners
Cameroon 1 Romania 1
Canada 1 Russian Federation 1
Czech Republic 1 Singapore 1
Georgia 1 South Africa 1
India 18 Spain 2
Indonesia 1 Sri Lanka 1
Macedonia 1 Ukraine 2
Netherlands 1 United Kingdom 6
Philippines 1 United States 9
Poland 4


And a big congratulations to our 108 Finalists from 26 countries who completed over 2,350 tasks during the contest. The Finalists will all receive a special hoodie to commemorate their achievements in the contest. This year we had 1 student named as a finalist with 2 different organizations!

A breakdown of the countries represented by our finalists can be found below. 
Country # of Finalists Country # of Finalists
Canada 6 Philippines 1
China 2 Poland 15
Czech Republic 1 Russian Federation 2
Germany 1 Serbia 1
India 48 Singapore 2
Indonesia 2 South Korea 1
Israel 1 Spain 1
Kazakhstan 1 Sri Lanka 2
Luxembourg 1 Taiwan 1
Mauritius 2 Thailand 1
Mexico 1 United Kingdom 3
Nepal 1 United States 8
Pakistan 2 Uruguay 1


This year we had 790 mentors dedicate their time and invaluable expertise to helping thousands of teenage students learn about open source by welcoming them into their communities. These mentors are the heart of GCI and the reason the contest continues to thrive. Mentors spend hundreds of hours answering questions, reviewing submitted tasks, and teaching students the basics and, in many cases, more advanced aspects of contributing to open source. GCI would not be possible without their enthusiasm and commitment.

We will post more statistics and fun stories that came from GCI 2018 here on the Google Open Source Blog over the next few months, so please stay tuned.

Congratulations to our Grand Prize Winners, Finalists, and all of the students who spent the last couple of months learning about, and contributing to, open source. We hope they will continue their journey in open source!

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source

Getting to know a research intern: Tomas Effenberger

Google offers a variety of opportunities for students who wish to gain industry experience. Through our "Getting to know a research intern" series, we provide a glimpse into some of these opportunities as well as the impactful projects research students work on at Google. Today we’re featuring Tomas Effenberger, Master student (now PhD) from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. Tomas interned with our Brain Applied Zurich team. Read On!

Tomas Effenberger

So tell us about yourself and your PhD topic …
I am a member of the Adaptive Learning research group at the Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. Our mission is to make learning more efficient and engaging by personalizing educational systems using artificial intelligence techniques. To achieve this mission, we research things like how to model students, how to reliably estimate difficulty of tasks, how to find optimal parameters for mastery learning, or how to deal with dangerous feedback loops and fairly evaluate adaptive learning systems.

We develop applications that provide personalized learning experience by estimating students’ skills as they practice and recommending them tasks of the optimal difficulty. Suitable challenges, neither too easy, nor too difficult, help the students immerse themselves into the problem solving activity and achieve the state of flow.

What does this mean for education?
We provide teachers with tools that help them be more impactful. We focus on automating the activities that are either too boring, too difficult, or even impossible for teachers, such as giving immediate personalized feedback on students’ homework. That gives the teachers time to prepare more sophisticated learning activities that couldn’t be performed well by computer tutors – for example a complex game followed by a guided reflection.

In addition, we develop tools that help teachers understand better the current skills of all their students. I like to think about our mission as giving teachers super-powers. No matter how good machines are, there will always be a place for teachers – though hopefully their jobs will be more fun and less frustrating than today.

Why did you choose this topic?
I strongly believe that improving education can have a huge and positive impact on the lives of every person on the planet. Every child spends many hours learning nearly every day, and the process of learning is often experienced as either boring or frustrating. By making the learning more efficient and engaging, we can help the students become happier and more skillful. That is why improving education is such a strong leverage point: happy and skillful people are likely to lead advances in all other aspects of our society – including improving education even further!

During my master studies at Masaryk University, I learned many useful tools that can help me on my life mission to advance personalized learning. Research on adaptive learning is a sweet spot at the intersection of what I consider important (improving education), and what I am good at (computer science and artificial intelligence).

Tomas Effenberger

Why did you apply for an internship at Google?
I had not worked as a software engineer before and I realized that I was lacking some essential skills for an efficient development of complex scalable adaptive learning systems. Interning at Google was a great opportunity to learn best practices from top software engineers and to see how machine learning can be used at scale.

What project was your internship focused on?
I worked under Quentin de Laroussilhe from the Brain Applied Zurich team to make state-of-the-art image dataset augmentation easily accessible to anyone inside and outside Google. A more high-level goal of my effort was to improve the quality of machine learning models by a combination of three concepts: data augmentation, meta learning, and transfer learning.

Data augmentation is a powerful technique for improving generalization. When training a machine learning model, the more data you have, the better performance you can achieve. By applying random distortions to the training data you already have, you can create new artificial training data. For images, those distortions can be random crops, rotations, increasing brightness, etc.

Since image augmentation includes many parameters, researchers at Google developed an algorithm called AutoAugment that searches for the best augmentation policy using millions of labeled images. This technique of learning an architecture and hyperparameters is referred to as meta learning, or learning to learn.

Reusing components learned on one task to solve new tasks is called transfer learning. I have released several image augmentation policies, and published them on TensorFlow Hub, allowing anyone to import and use them in the TensorFlow graphs of their models.

We have also incorporated the image augmentation policies into a meta-learning framework that can now jointly optimize the choice of the image augmentation policy and architecture of the model.

How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your research topic?
The focus of my internship project was much broader with the goal to advance machine learning in general. Nevertheless, machine learning is one of the main tools that is used for adaptive learning. It was inspiring to see how various machine learning techniques and state-of-the-art tools are used at Google to tackle challenging problems that share some common aspects with adaptive learning.

Tomas Effenberger

This is already your second internship at Google. What were the reasons to come back?
I wanted to further develop my software engineering skills while working on research projects that can make the world a better place, at least transitively. After my first internship, I knew that Google was the perfect place for this. I received a lot of open and actionable feedback and I was not afraid to make mistakes, because I knew that they will be taken as great learning opportunities.

Engineers at Google are passionate about their work and have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, why they want to achieve it, and how they will do it. Even more importantly, they know how their work relates to the core values and mission of the company.

What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
I have definitely improved my coding skills, especially through code reviews and pair programming sessions. I also had plenty of opportunities to practice data analysis, build machine learning models, and evaluate them properly. Last but not least, I think I quite considerably improved my communication skills, thanks to my host who pushed me to collaborate with many people both inside and outside our team.

What are your next steps? What is coming next after the internship?
I am now back to Brno to conduct a PhD in the Adaptive Learning research group at the Masaryk University under the supervision of Radek Pelanek. My main focus is on adaptive learning of introductory programming, which is a topic that I have already started to explore in my master thesis. I have developed a web application for learning the basics of programming that combines several strategies to support learning and motivation, such as using drag-and-drop blocks to build programs, visualizing their execution in a game world, and recommending the next suitable task.

Despite focusing primarily on learning programming, I also plan to explore more general methodological aspects concerning the development and evaluation of adaptive learning systems. I will strive to make my research readily applicable and helpful in existing large-scale educational systems such as Khan Academy.

Wrapping up Google Code-in 2018

We are excited to announce the conclusion of the 9th annual Google Code-in (GCI), our global online contest introducing teenagers to the world of open source development. Over the years the contest has not only grown bigger, but also helped find and support talented young people around the world.

Here are some initial statistics about this year’s program:
  • Total number of students completing tasks: 3,123*
  • Total number of countries represented by students: 77
  • Percentage of girls among students: 17.9% 
Below you can see the total number of tasks completed by students year over year:
*These numbers will increase as mentors finish reviewing the final work submitted by students this morning.
Mentors from each of the 27 open source organizations are now busy reviewing the last  work submitted by participants. We look forward to sharing more statistics about the program, including countries and schools with the most student participants, in an upcoming blog post.

The mentors for each organization will spend the next couple of weeks selecting four Finalists (who will receive a hoodie too!) and their two Grand Prize Winners. Grand Prize Winners will be flown to Northern California to visit Google’s headquarters, enjoy a day of adventure in San Francisco, meet their mentors and hear talks from Google engineers.

Hearty congratulations to all the student participants for challenging themselves and making contributions to open source in the process!

Further, we’d like to thank the mentors and the organization administrators for GCI 2018. They are the heart of this program, volunteering countless hours creating tasks, reviewing student work, and helping bring students into the world of open source. Mentors teach young students about the many facets of open source development, from community standards and communicating across time zones to version control and testing. We couldn’t run this program without you! Thank you!

Stay tuned, we’ll be announcing the Grand Prize Winners and Finalists on January 7, 2019!

By Saranya Sampat, Google Open Source