Listen up, future coders of the world: today we’re launching the second annual Google Code-in competition, an open source development contest for 13-17 year old students around the world. The purpose of the Google Code-in competition is to give students everywhere an opportunity to explore the world of open source development. We not only run open source software throughout our business, we also value the way the open source model encourages people to work together on shared goals over the Internet.

Open source development involves much more than just computer programming, and the Google Code-in competition reflects that by having lots of different tasks to choose from. We organize the tasks into eight major categories:

1. Code: Writing or refactoring code
2. Documentation: Creating and editing documents
3. Outreach: Community management and outreach, as well as marketing
4. Quality Assurance: Testing and ensuring code is of high quality
5. Research: Studying a problem and recommending solutions
6. Training: Helping others learn more
7. Translation: Localization (adapting code to your region and language)
8. User interface: User experience research or user interface design and interaction

On November 9, we’ll announce the participating mentoring organizations. Mentoring organizations are open source software organizations chosen from a pool of applicants who have participated in our Google Summer of Code program in the past. Last year we had 20 organizations participate.

Last year’s competition drew 361 participating students from 48 countries, who worked for two months on a wide variety of brain-teasing tasks ranging from coding to video editing, all in support of open source software. In January, we announced the 14 grand prize winners, who we flew to our headquarters in Mountain View, California to enjoy a day talking to Google engineers and learning what it’s like to work at Google, and another day enjoying the northern California sights and sun.

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Google Code-in site for more details on how to sign up and participate. Our goal this year is to have even more pre-university students in the contest than last time around, so help us spread the word, too.

Stay tuned to the contest site and subscribe to our mailing list for more updates on the contest. The Google Code-in contest starts on November 21, 2011, and we look forward to seeing the clever and creative ways all of the participants tackle their open source challenges.

By Carol Smith, Google Code-in Program Manager, Open Source Team