Open Source Academy

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

"[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

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 and 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.Open source acadamy

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, we have had three of our students get full time permanent jobs here at Catalyst, with a number more in paid part time or holiday work as they finish school or University.
Our first short Academy started with 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 Wellington CBD. Our mentors and teachers are those who work for Catalyst currently and have a passion to share everything about open source. That said, we also get Catalyst staff from around NZ (and Australia) 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.

2021 Applications Open

At Catalyst, we have had a year of substantial growth, with many new and exciting projects happening. This growth has led to a reconstruction of spaces, which meant we have had to relocate the Open Source Academy. 

The Open Source Academy will take place in January 2021, and will be hosted in the Catalyst Presentation Space and we can't wait to get started!

Applications are now open. If you are a senior secondary school student (or know of one), who is keen to learn more about open source technology and computer programming, apply quickly as spaces are limited! 
Apply here:

Open Source Academy

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 and the skills to continue on.

The first week is about learning the common tools and practises that we use for our clients daily. We use the process of building a small application to cover things such as licencing, 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.

"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

Arduino Academy

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 or got environmental sensors to record details.

"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

More about the Academy


"Five years Catalyst Open Source Academy", Catalyst Blog from 13 February 2015

"Catalyst Open Source Academy 2015: It's a wrap!", Catalyst News from 23 January 2015

"Fifth Open Source Academy", Catalyst News from 8 January 2015

The Catalyst Open Source Academy is the winner of the New Zealand Open Source Award 2014 in the category of "Open Source in Education"

"Students choose code over summer", Catalyst News from 29 January 2014

"School's in for summer", Interface Magazine, Issue 45, February 2013

"Forget the beach, let's learn about coding", Interface Magazine, Issue 37, February 2012

The Catalyst Open Source Academy was discussed in "New technology with Sarah Putt" in Nine to Noon Radio NZ on 26 January 2012 (at minute 14:20)

"School's in for open source advocates", Computerworld, 10 January 2011

Media statement announcing launch of the Academy, December 2010 [PDF 82 KB]