Evangelizing open source: Interview with OSCON speaker Gabrielle Crevecoeur

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Photo by Jen Wike Huger

A recent graduate of Florida State University, Gabrielle Crevecoeur is a technical evangelist at Microsoft specializing in open source development. She will be speaking at OSCON about how to run the Johnny-Five Javascript framework on Arduino and have it sing Frozen's hit song Let It Go. So, I caught up with her to ask some questions before her talk.

It seems there were many different directions you could have taken your career with your education in computer science. How did you decide to become a technical evangelist?

To be honest, when I was interviewing for post graduation jobs, I had no idea what a technical evangelist was. I was approached by a recruiter on Linkedin and all I thought was: What is that? But when I made it to my interview and they explained everything, I really fell in love with the role and I wanted nothing else. I chose to be a technical evangelist because I wanted to be a part of the tech community in an influential way and that was everything they described to me. Who wouldn’t want to make cool things, then share it with the world?

Is your work to engage others for Microsoft employees or for those outside of the company?

It's outward-facing. I do a lot of work with colleges, like mentoring at hackathons, presenting and learning at meetups, and attending technical conferences like OSCON.

Did you deliberately choose a specialization in open source development?

I wouldn't say that I deliberately chose open source. It's more like I chose what I was good at and it happened to be open source. I have always been strong with JavaScript, so when I was given the position, I knew I wanted to do more with it than just the basics. And, it just so happens that it falls under open source development.

How can open source software and hardware impact society? Also, what about STEM?

Open source software and hardware have a bigger impact on society than everyone realizes. There are so many IoT projects being made to benefit the everyday routines of a normal person, no matter what their "normal" is. It's that diverse and wide-reaching. With STEM, open source is opening up new opportunities for developers and tech companies everywhere; it is even impacting college students who are looking beyond a standard computer science curriculum. Open source is bringing together the hardware world and the software world like in a new, powerful way. Although this connection already existed, it's more accessable than ever with devices such as Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, Beagle Boards, and so on.

What personal goals do you hope to achieve in this role?

I want to teach at least one person something new. I can do a thousand presentations and mentor a million students but if they do not really learn something, then what have I done?

How important is diversity to you?

No one person is smarter than another because of their race or gender. We all should have equal opportunities to do our best and achieve the goals we set for ourselves. And, in the workplace, there is no absolute one right way to complete a project. Our diverse background and talents is what makes tech cutting edge. We would do well to support each other in that way.

Former Opensource.com and Open Organization moderator/ambassador.

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