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Open Source Academy

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The Academy is a Catalyst initiative designed to provide training and work experience for young New Zealand technologists.

We run the two week Open Source Academy in January each year and a three day Arduino Academy in the July school holidays

Aimed at senior secondary school students, our Open Source Academy is a two week programme to learn about, and work with, Open Source technologies. We help get Academy students to the point where they can contribute to an open source project during the Academy with the skills to continue on.

Our Open Source Academies give secondary school students a taste of real open source development through a combination of classroom sessions and hands on project work. By organising and funding the Academy, Catalyst aims to show young technologists how to participate in open source communities and to fully explore their passion for IT through freely available open source tools.

To meet the growing demand for open source technology across the public and private sectors, both in New Zealand and internationally, our Academy aims at attracting the IT talent that is needed.

The Open Source Academy has been running annually in January since 2011. Since then, three of our students have been given full time permanent jobs here at Catalyst, with a number more in paid part time or holiday work as they finish school or University.

Open source academy students around computers

In the beginning

"[My student] was so excited about her work at the Catalyst Open Source Academy over the holidays ... you've opened her eyes to new possibilities."
-
Wellington IT teacher


Our first short Academy started with an Arduino Academy held in July 2013. We have had some students attend both the Arduino Academy and the Open Source Academy.

Both Academies are run out of Catalyst House in the Wellington CBD. Our mentors and teachers are mainly those who work for Catalyst in Wellington and have a passion to share everything about open source. That said, Catalyst staff from around NZ (and Australia) also come to Wellington to run sessions for our Academies. It is also exciting to see keen families and schools from around the country get students to join us to expand their learning.

Open source academy students during a lesson

How we break it down

"It is always amazing to see how productive the students can be. In the history of the Academy students have committed 196 patches to the Koha code base, making a real difference in the working lives of librarians all around the globe."
- Chris, Senior Developer, Koha team


The first week is about learning the common tools and practices that we use for our clients daily. We use the process of building a small application to cover things such as licensing, accessibility and understanding the requirements of the application. The application comes together as we learn about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Apache, MySQL, PHP and Python. Students are guided through installing a laptop with Ubuntu which they then use throughout the Academy. They use a server they have configured in our Catalyst Cloud.

The second week has a focus of working on a real open source project. Working with developers who really know the project, the students work towards getting a patch into the source code of the project. Over the years we have had students contribute to Drupal, Koha, Mahara, Matomo and SilverStripe.

Open source academy students learning

Arduino Academy

"Catalyst's Academies exposed me to a side of programming and gave me the kind of insight that got me excited about coding and development, and helped cement my dreams to be a woman in ICT."
- Aleisha, Open Source Academy 2014, Catalyst Open Source Scholarship, Catalyst Full Time Employee


First run in July 2013, the Catalyst Arduino Academy is 3 days of learning about the Arduino, the open-source electronics platform.  We hope we can inspire senior secondary school students to continue to further develop their new found knowledge on their own, or at their schools, once they have finished the Academy.

Our Arduino Academy kicks off working through a basic experimenter's kit to get an understanding of circuits and basic Arduino programming. The following two days are spent working through combining various components to create an interactive project. Over the years, the groups have built a line-following robot, created a pong game, and recorded details using environmental sensors.

Are you or is someone you know interested in taking a course at our award-winning academy?

Get in touch to learn more