Sunday, October 30, 2016

Being a Speaker/Mentor for Mozilla Campus Clubs at Grace Hopper’s Open Source Day



A few weeks ago, I traveled to Houston to represent Mozilla at Grace Hopper. More specifically, I was recruiting for Mozilla Campus Clubs and facilitating a workshop on WebVR and Mozilla’s A-Frame.

I have been volunteering with Mozilla for the past year. I started volunteering with them because I wanted to strengthen my technical skills. Now I am a Mozilla North American Reps Regional Coach & apart of the Campus Advisory Committee for Mozilla Campus Clubs. For the Grace Hopper Open Source Day, Emma Irwin, Larissa Shapiro, (both very active Mozillian leaders) and I, brainstormed and built the workshop layout for the participants that would be participating in our hacks/projects.

Our mission for the GHC16 Open Source Day was to present on: Mozilla Campus Clubs, Mozilla’s mission and open source barriers/solutions. It was important for us to present this content because our participants had varying backgrounds of open source and Mozilla as an organization.



Before moving forward to our two hacking activities for Open Source Day we walked through the importance of open source. We presented the following questions and participants put their thoughts on big papers we had up.
  1. Opportunities & Barriers: What makes a good open source experience?
  2. How do we design a program that is inclusive of technical AND non-technical people?
  3. What incentivizes students on Campus to engage in clubs at the intersection of technology and activism?

It was great to see other undergraduates do rapid brainstorming around these problem statements and put up their thoughts. These are some of the questions I asked myself when I started my Mozilla journey. I had minimal exposure to the idea of ‘open source’ on my campus and within my studies. I had to do a lot of research, learning, and growing to get where I am now but I still have a long way till full understanding.

The participants had the option to work on a python/Django project with Emma or join me in a WebVr/UX project using Mozilla’s A Frame. It was an amazing and humbling experience to facilitate a workshop. The ladies in my group ranged from undergraduates to legitimate professional engineers. Working equally with someone of a higher caliber than me was wicked cool and stunning (In my mind, if you are a fulltime engineer vs an undergrad, you are of a higher caliber! You graduated from the engineering struggles and now run in the world of solving REAL problems). Don’t get me wrong, undergrads are fully capable of solving real world problems but, ultimately, all of us strive towards that fulltime position after graduation.


Coming back to the topic, the participants all grew from our workshop in their own ways. One FEMGINEER
(Female + Engineer = FEMGINEER)
accomplished her first pull request on Github… another, was wicked excited to try Mozilla’s A Frame when she returned home. To us, these are great success metrics in line with Mozilla’s mission of having the internet as a free and open resource to all.

Overall, Grace Hopper was a smashing success! I could not have planned for a more eventful experience. Merely having a speaker badge with Mozilla’s name on it during the convention, was a huge conversation starter around open source. I was continuously learning, advocating, and growing all 3-days of Grace Hopper. Hopefully the ladies we engaged with during the hackathon are interested in advocating for the open web on their campus.

Grammarly yours, Semirah D 






#GHCOSD16 #GHC16 #GraceHopper2016 #GHC2016, hackathon for humanity, open source day, mozilla, open source, Django, webvr, python, aframe, #mozillausa

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