After a few years of teaching myself various programming languages and techniques, I decided to go back to school to get a B.S. in Computer Information Systems. In Fall of 2010, I transferred in as a Junior at California State University, Chico.
Chico State is one of the best schools on the west coast for computer programming. It is accredited by ABET and has talented, experienced professors. It even won first place in the 2010 regional ACM programming contest. I think coming here was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Throughout my first year at Chico State, I talked with a lot of my classmates. I would always ask how they liked their programming classes. Often, I got the sense that they weren’t getting what they wanted out of the classes. They wanted to know how to write real programs that people would actually use, but the classes focused more on theory than practice. They also wanted to learn languages other than Java and C++. Since I have a lot of real-world experience, I wanted to help, but I just didn’t know how.
In the spring of 2011, I had a great idea: What if there was a programming club with the goal of learning by contributing to open source projects?
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Almost everything I have learned about programming has been from working on real projects. Since students usually aren’t able to get a programming job while in school, open source projects provide an alternate way to gain experience. More than that, they offer a variety that you just can’t get from a single employer.
I mentioned the idea to my classmates and professors, and they liked it. After some careful consideration, I decided to put together a small trial group that would meet over the summer. Thus, the Chico State Open Source Team was born.