15 Cool Facts About Google’s Summer of Code

by Staff Writers

Kicked off on May 21, Google's Summer of Code is already well underway, providing college students with an incredible way to spend their summer: working on real-life, open source projects under the tutelage of Google and trusted mentors in the computer programming industry. Participation in GSoC is a big deal, giving students the opportunity to build their skills, experience, and network for a more fulfilling career. In action since 2005, we think that the premise of Google's Summer of Code is really cool, but even cooler are some of the fun facts behind the program. Did you know that GSoC has an 88% success rate for participants? And that they actually get paid thousands of dollars to work on free software? We didn't, and we're amazed by these facts and more. Read on, and you'll discover 15 really interesting things about this already really cool project.

  1. Students actually get paid, by Google, to code:

    As of 2011, students are awarded a stipend of $5,000 to participate in Google's Summer of Code, completing a free and open-source software coding project over the course of the summer.

  2. The University of Moratuwa is the place to be for GSoC:

    Located in Sri Lanka, the University of Moratuwa has overwhelmingly had the most successful Google Summer of Code program, sending 164 students from 2005 to 2012. By comparison, Polytechnic University of Bucharest in Romania has the next highest number of students: 75, less than half of Moratuwa's students.

  3. GSoC has brought thousands together to celebrate and create code:

    Google's summer program is no small potatoes: since 2005, more than 6,000 students have successfully participated. Mentors range in the 3,000s, and even more impressive, participants have come from more than 100 countries worldwide to create code with Google.

  4. Often, students haven't even worked on open source projects prior to GSoC:

    It's easy to imagine that most GSoC participants regularly take part in open source projects, but the fact is that for many, this is their first time. They've typically completed fake assignments for college credit, and with GSoC, are able to participate in real-world open source software for the very first time. Some go on to use their GSoC stipend to concentrate on even more open source coding activities for the rest of the summer.

  5. The program is completely run online:

    As a mostly international program, GSoC is largely online-based. Although the image of summer campgrounds filled with young coders furiously working away at computers is an interesting idea, the reality is that GSoC is entirely remote, relying on mailing lists and IRC as the primary means of communication and collaboration.

  6. GSoC isn't a recruiting program (but it kind of is):

    Officially, Google does not operate Summer of Code as a program to identify future employees, but according to their FAQ, it sure doesn't hurt. Although recruiting is not the focus of the program, Google does use the results of GSoC to help identify potential recruits. Participants often do not end up working at Google, but many do find employment as a result of their participation in GSoC.

  7. GSoC is incredibly international:

    It's easy to imagine that most of GSoC's participants are huddled up in Silicon Valley hacker lairs all summer, but that couldn't be farther from reality. In fact, most GSoC participants aren't even in the U.S. This year, India has the most accepted students with 227, nearly double the 173 participants from the U.S. Germany, Russia, and China also have a large number of participants. The top five participating schools from 2005 to 2012 are from Sri Lanka, Romania, Singapore, Austria, and Brazil. California schools don't even make the top 10, although the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign comes in at number nine for participation.

  8. There aren't a lot of female participants:

    In recent years, less than 12% of computer science degrees are awarded to women, so it's not at all surprising that GSoC's numbers are similarly low. For the 2012 program, just 8.3% of accepted students are female, a dismally low number. But, Google reports that the percentage of women in the program is increasing, slowly but surely. Last year, women only made up 7.1%, so this year is a good improvement.

  9. Many older students participate in GSoC:

    Just over half of GSoC 2011 participants were pursuing undergraduate degrees (55%), with much of the rest working on graduate degrees or higher. Master's degree students made up 23.3% of participants, and 10.2% of participants were working on their Ph.D.s.

  10. You can participate even as a high schooler:

    Although Google's Summer of Code program is limited to students 18 and older, Google Code-In allows for students aged 13-17 to join in. Coding prodigies can take part in this fun contest to develop their skills for open source software, and even prepare to take on a GSoC project in later years.

  11. The success rate is very high:

    Thanks to careful selection of passionate participants and hands-on mentors, GSoC enjoys a high rate of successful completion. In 2011, more than 90% of students passed their mid evaluations, and about 88% passed the final evaluations.

  12. Participants often become mentors:

    Google Summer of Code creates a tight-knit group of participants with lots of loyalty and love for the program. So it's not at all surprising to find out that often, former participants decide to become mentors in later years.

  13. GSoC isn't just a one time thing:

    As long as you meet eligibility requirements, students are free to participate as many times as they'd like. This is a great way to try new things each summer or continue to build upon the great things you've learned in previous years.

  14. GSoC is a major professional opportunity:

    GSoC isn't just a great way to earn some summer cash and a cool T-shirt, it's an incredible professional networking opportunity. You'll be working not only with mentors, but other students and coding professionals. You'll learn not just about applying your skills, but building code collaboratively and taking part in the open source community.

  15. GSoC projects are released to the world as open source software:

    GSoC isn't just a great program for students and mentors, it's helpful for the world at large as well. All of the source code created as part of GSoC is released under an open source license for the world to use.