Catalyst celebrates 10 years of Open Source Academy

by Chloe Gunn

This year Catalyst celebrates its tenth Open Source Academy. The Open Source Academy is a two-week programme which aims to give all students a chance to learn about, and work with, open source technologies.

The beginning of the course focused on introducing the students to all the roles within IT and that it’s not all coding; with talks from our own Project Managers, Business Analysts, User Experience consultants, Testers and more. The second half of the Academy focused on contributing to open source projects like GeoNode, Phaser, and Koha - on their final day the students present their mahi and celebrate each other's efforts. 


At the celebration ceremony, where the students gave their closing talks, Sophia said, “I liked how the first week we got to look at all elements of an IT project and not just one aspect,” while Catherine said, “I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone and experiencing what it’s like to work on a real-life project and learning on things we don’t learn about in school.” Many students commented on how they are coming away feeling more confident in their abilities and what they can offer in the industry.


Something worth noting is that the students on the Koha team contributed 246 patches and commits (or saved 246 ‘kittens’ as we refer to them in the Academy) - a record in the last 10 years of Open Source Academy.

Don Christie, Catalyst’s Managing Director, says "We have been running the Open Source Academy for 10 years and each year brings renewed energy and resolve. Energy from the enthusiasm, intelligence and capability of the students. Resolve because of the awesome obligation of Catalyst and our fellow Kiwi companies that help provide exciting and challenging work for each new generation. That's why we encourage others to open their doors to today's students and talent and reap the undoubted benefits that their skills and world view bring"


For many, attending the Academy generates a passion for open source and, quite frankly, free pizza – this combination often leads previous attendees to return as employees. 

Priya, a previous Open Source Academy student turned full-time employee, shares her memory of the academy, “I remember fixing bugs on Drupal and seeing my name on the big screen. I was so proud.


“The Academy taught me so much about open source technology and I realised that I wanted to learn so much more in the IT space so I went to university and finished with a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Information Systems and E-Commerce. The routine gave me an insight into how working would be as an adult and finishing the Academy with an invite to Beverage O’Clock (featuring a massive table covered in food) was the dream!”

It is initiatives like this that are so crucial to supporting and continuing the growth and innovation of New Zealand’s tech industry.

Ian Beardslee, who runs the academy, said this:

“From our first Open Source Academy in 2011, we have been lucky enough to have over 200 students come through, taking part in learning new things and getting the opportunity to apply them to real projects. The hands-on learning, and working with people around the world is a unique experience for students, our staff and the wider open source communities.”


Thank you to all those who helped make this possible: Catalystas who took time out of their projects and those at GeoNode, Koha ILS, Phaser, and Gamefroot. Not forgetting, the people in these open source communities – thank you for your continuous mahi.


If you are interested in taking part in the next Open Source Academy keep an eye on our Twitter and website.