A few weeks ago I attended the conference Reflections|Projections at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It’s a student-run conference that’s been a regular occurrence for around twenty years, which is especially impressive considering that students are constantly graduating!

I gave a talk to a roomful of students entitled “Open Source and Us” (forgive me, my title skills are lacking), where I shared my story of working in open source as a student, on through internships, and into the industry. They were surprised and, I think, quite pleased to hear how much Microsoft has changed with respect to open source. I gave a high-level overview of the main OSS efforts with which I’m familiar (PowerShell, .NET Core, Mesos, Linux Integration Services, Cloud Foundry, etc.), and I hope that I (1) inspired these students to become involved in open source (I also talked at length on how to do this) and (2) convinced them to consider Microsoft as a potential place they can work in open source.

Let me just say, these students were brilliant. R|P at UIUC was one of the best conferences I’ve been too (and I’ve met Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, two of my Free Software heroes at major conferences, so the bar is quite high). I would gladly work with any one of the students I met.

In addition to hosting talks, the conference also had a hackathon that I helped some students with, an algorithms programming competition, entertainment in the form of the new “Escape Room” puzzles (I did a dry-run on setup day, and it was actually quite fun!), food for everyone throughout the multi-day conference, and an incredible keynote by Brian Fox, the writer of GNU Bash.