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Open Source carried a huge presence at HackIllinois 2018. This year, we had over 40 mentors and 25 sponsors at HackIllinois, and everyone came eager to contribute to the Open Source community! The goal of HackIllinois has expanded in recent years to connect with the developer community by encouraging students and hackers from all over the country to contribute to the tools they use every day. Hackers get flexibility as to what they want to work on—they can opt to build their own project, or they can have the unique experience of learning how to contribute to existing Open Source software. To facilitate these contributions, the HackIllinois Team invites mentors from established Open Source projects to work with Hackers at the event and help them get involved.


Open Source contributions at HackIllinois would not be possible without the many amazing mentors that attended the event this year. Mentorship is essential to the HackIllinois experience: these veteran Open Source contributors and engineers help students get the ball rolling on contributing to Open Source.

To initially introduce students to the mentors, we held panels regarding Web/Data and Systems/Miscellaneous so students could come hear about the fields they were interested in. Afterward, mentors briefly described their projects and students had a chance to discuss with mentors and join their teams.

Mentors with experience in Web/Data discuss at the panel in Siebel

Afterward, hacking began! Students began learning the ropes of Open Source and finding issues to solve. Many mentors had tagged issues for HackIllinois beforehand and were prepared to guide students through the initially intimidating process of understanding and improving a codebase.

Students start to work with mentor Andy Schwartzmeyer on the Apache Mesos project

Last year, hacker Trent Spice worked with the Rust team and won the Long Con prize for HackIllinois 2017. This year, he came back with other students from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and continued to work on Rust with mentors Steve Klabnik and Ashley Williams. HackIllinois aims to build these long-term relationships between students and the Open Source community, and our staff is super glad that groups from HackIllinois are still working together to contribute to and build on projects like Rust Cookbook and RustBridge.

Hackers from IUPUI work with mentors from Rust in ECEB

We also had some awesome mentors representing Data Science Open Source projects. Jeff Bezanson, creator of Julia, worked with hackers on the Julia project. Of course, we also had mentor Carol Willing (former Director of the Python Software Foundation) returning from HackIllinois 2017 to work on Jupyter.


Tons of Open Source projects found themselves welcoming new contributors at HackIllinois. We had representatives from large Open Source projects such as Apache Mesos, NPM, Rust, Conda, Homebrew, and Hyper. These influential projects gave students and mentors the opportunity to work together to contribute to some of the most common tools they use every day.

HackIllinois was home to lots of smaller, growing Open Source projects, too, like OpenTreeMap, NodeSchool and PrairieLearn. These Open Source projects have immense opportunities for growth at HackIllinois. In fact, one of the lead developers from OpenTreeMap, Michael Maurizi, mentioned that he and his team solved every issue that he had set aside for HackIllinois 2018!

HackIllinois did not limit students to only contributing to existing Open Source projects, though. Many students developed their own Open Source projects to give back to the community with their own new ideas. One project, Puppeteer to Istanbul, even has 70+ stars on GitHub as of the time of publication, and was even mentioned in a talk at Google I/O. And it was born right here at HackIllinois.

The hackers from the Puppeteer to Istanbul project present at the closing ceremony


We’re incredibly happy that Open Source was such a success at HackIllinois 2018 and aim to continue the contributions next year at HackIllinois 2019. In the meantime, make sure to check out our other recent post recapping the entirety of HackIllinois 2018.

Watch out for registration for HackIllinois 2019 on our website at! And if you’re interested in getting involved as a sponsor or mentor, be sure to reach out to us at

Want to be a part of the open source community at HackIllinois 2019 and want to be a mentor? Check out our Call for Mentors for information on how to get involved.

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Rohin Bhasin




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