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January 25, 2011

Rails Up-and-Comers Contest Winners

Wow, did you all make it hard for me to choose winners! Over 60 entrants and almost everyone had a compelling story to share. I think the best thing about it all is seeing proof of the wonderful diversity and vibrance of our community. Everyone who entered is going to get a small token of appreciation from my publisher and I will announce that as soon as I get final confirmation. UPDATE: All contestants will receive complimentary access to the RoughCut of Russ Olsen's upcoming Eloquent Ruby title on Safari.

But without further ado, here are the winners:

Grand Prize

Jacob Richardson, a 19 year old developer from Des Moines, Iowa wins the top prize for his story about a successful project he started in high school and how he teaches Rails to high school students.

"About midway through the year Rails was so appealing to me that I decided to completely scratch the whole Skloop PHP product and rewrite it in Rails. This was a HUGE success! I was able to easily implement a group system that piggybacked on Twitter to use it as a delivery system. With our new system it allowed all students in the school to register for our product (via a web frontend) and allowed them to easily join teacher created groups to receive announcements and events.

Skloop is being heavily used in the high school today and is being hosted locally at the school. The product ended up being so useful that the school today, whenever the school is canceled due to weather or other events, will post the school closing on Skloop before ANY phone calls are made to anybody. Skloop was also presented at the Prometheus Awards to recognize outstanding contributions to technology in Iowa.

My contributions to Skloop, although I have graduated, have not ceased. Every week as a volunteer I will come to the club and teach the students about Ruby on Rails and how to improve the current Skloop product. I'm trying to become a better teacher and Rails expert so that I can impact these student's lives as much as I can to help them get their feet in the water. "

First Runner-up Prizes (2)

Josh Van Cleef was dealing with unemployment issues:

"Unfortunately, I was resoundingly unsuccessful at that and moved quickly down the scale from “self-employed” to “unemployed.” In the two years since then, I’ve applied for all manner of jobs, even crappy theme park jobs, with zero luck. I’ve tried my hand at some freelance sports writing (ok, blogging mainly), which did get me a press pass to a college bowl game, but no actual money.

Meanwhile, a good friend left his corporate job about the same time and started freelance web development in Rails. After about a year & a half of unemployment, it finally dawned on me to bug him about what he’s up to. He put me onto tryruby, and the rest is almost history."

Brandon Cordell has been a little overwhelmed at times:

Being new to Rails now that it's grown so big, is like being in the middle of a cave at night with 10,000 path surrounding you. It seems like everywhere you go in the Rails universe there are 5 different camps of people saying 5 different things, and they all claim they're right. Not that it's entirely a bad thing since it helps drive innovation, but as a newcomer it's easy to just run back to where you came from and vow to learn it later.

Second Runner Up Prizes (10)

The following entrants win a copy of the Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial book.

  • Adrian Pomilio needed a break after lots of troubles.
  • Imre Mehesz 
  • Adil Muhammad found Rails after being impressed by 37signals in Saudi Arabia.
  • Oliver Dodd
  • Jason Carpenter is the oldest guy in the office and also an intern.
  • Arun Srini
  • Michael Haddox-Schatz
  • John Glass considers The Rails 3 Way to be the Kama Sutra of programming.
  • Dale Hamill
  • Roy Osherove quit his job as a CTO for a .NET startup to become an intern in a Ruby Shop.

Honorable Mentions

Even though they won't receive a book hard copy, I'm going to do my best to send the following entrants a special something for their great stories. (Wish I had more books to distribute!)

  • Tony Wok
  • Christian Mutesa
  • Juan Capistran
  • Samnang Chhun
  • Nithin Bekal
  • Michaël Sokol
  • Ashish Dixit
  • Axel Graff
  • Dan Carper
  • Daniel Lopes
  • Neal Sales-Griffin
  • Brian Pearce
  • Jeffry Degrande
  • Eduardo Mourao

If you're one of the winners, please keep an eye on your email this week for details on how to receive your prize. Thanks again to everyone who participated.

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