Open source projects can only be as strong as their community.
The open source community is made up of a diverse group of individuals all at different experience levels. The Students of OpenInfra Series takes a look into universities and their approach at teaching open source in their curriculum.
Dylan Zapzalka is a fourth-year student who is planning on graduating in December of 2021. He is studying full time and working as a teaching assistant for the department of mathematics at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Outside of academia, his interests are machine learning and literature. His favorite authors are Fyodor Dostoevsky and John Steinbeck.
Check out how Dylan got started working with the OpenStackSDK during his Capstone course at NDSU.
How did you get started?
Contributing to the OpenStackSDK was one of the many options to choose from for a project in my NDSU Capstone course. What stood out to me the most is that it was the only open source project to choose from. As someone who has never contributed to an open source project before, I thought a project such as OpenStack would be a great place to start. I also knew that the challenge of trying to develop for the OpenStack project with no prior cloud computing experience would keep me motivated and engaged throughout the semester in contrast to working on a familiar project that I am already comfortable with.
What was the hardest part about getting started?
The hardest part about getting started is knowing where to start. There are so many different elements to OpenStack that it can be very overwhelming when first starting out. Due to the size of the OpenStack project, it feels as if you are lost in a labyrinth of code for the first week of contributing. However, there are many people in the OpenStack community who are more than happy to guide you through the process, so as long as you aren’t too shy to ask questions, you will eventually start to understand everything little by little.
What’s the biggest benefit from your involvement?
My favorite part about my involvement with the OpenStack team is the skills I have picked up along the way. Developing for the OpenStackSDK has forced me to leave my comfort zone and has thus allowed me to expand my repertoire of skills pertaining to software development. Even before I wrote a single line of code, I had to force myself to get proficient in both Git and Linux: two things that I’m sure will greatly help in my future endeavors. I have also been able to improve my coding skills in Python, which I’m sure will come in handy when working with machine learning.
What advice do you have for students who want to get started with open source?
My main advice to anyone wanting to get started with open source is to find a project that intrigues them. When starting, it’s important to be motivated to contribute and not slack off. If you start on a project that doesn’t keep you engaged, the chances of you continuing to contribute in the long run will greatly diminish over time.
Check out three of Dylan’s patches that have been merged into the OpenStackSDK:
Find Dylan Zapzalka on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylan-zapzalka/
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