Philippines Summer 2012 Blog

University of the Philippines-Diliman
June 18, 2012 to Aug. 3, 2012

Final Event at UP AyalaLand and Google Dev Fest

Danny Castonguay

Aug. 19, 2012

We held our final event on Aug 2nd and had great turnout: the audience included friends, family, faculty members, industry, investors, and many enthusiastic students. We received funding from Smart/IdeaSpace, UP and Ayala Foundation for the food and the room able to accomodate 100 people at the UP - AyalaLand TechnoHub. 

On Friday Aug 3rd, the instructors had lunch with the Dean of Computer Science of UP Diliman. We discussed some of highlights of the course and some of the points of improvement for next year. We've received very positive feedback from the Dean, who looks forward to hosting AITI again next year.

On Saturday Aug 4th, we were invited by the Google Developers Group of the Philippines to join one of the biggest event of the year for local startups, the Google Dev Fest. Oshani held a workshop in the main room on Android development, and two of our teams presented their work to the audience.

We are now looking forward to returning to Massachussetts with the conviction that the Philippines has trumendous talent and has the potential to be a place of choice to start tech companies in Southeast Asia.

On air!

Oshani Seneviratne

July 26, 2012

We were invited by the e-Talakayan radio show (the official radio show of the University) to talk about the MIT AITI program yesterday. 

We gave them a brief intro of AITI, the history of the program, success stories, the current status of the program at UP Diliman, the projects the students are working on and information about our finale event on Aug 2nd. We were asked about our opinion about the students here, their entreprenuerial skills, 'exotic' foods we've had, the travels we have done for the past month and a half, and our perception about the Philipiinnes in general. Our hosts Joy and Mario were very lively and fun to talk to! We were also asked about the undergraduate and graduate at MIT, and how it compares to the student life at UP Diliman. If you like to listen to what we told them, check out e-Talakayan episode #39 "MIT AITI". This episdoe is also available on itunes.

Many thanks to e-Talakayan for giving us an opportunity to talk about MIT AITI and MIT! Hope it was fun and educational! :) 

Baguio Android Bootcamp Trip

Danny Castonguay

July 25, 2012

This weekend the class will be heading North on a 5+ hour drive to Baguio, for a weekend of hacking on the student projects, networking, and learning from the GDG Philippines community members in Baguio. W

We hope that many people will be able to come hack with us. Stay tuned to our progess by visiting our student pages (check out the wikis, the code, and the teams linked from:

Thank you to O&B and GDG Philippines for making the #mitaitiph student trip to the Baguio Android Bootcamp trip possible! and

New Github Account for AITI Philippines

Danny Castonguay

July 2, 2012


Checkout our class GitHub organization page. There aren't any projects on Github yet but they are coming very soon!

We've got a lot of free stuff for you on Github. If you haven't signed up for Github yet, please take a few minutes to do so now. On Tuesday, I'll go over the creation of a Github account and will spend more time with the class to

1) Setup a project

2) Create a README

3) Create wiki page to describe the business model, the interface, the users

4) Commit/push some files

5) Create issues

I'm going to motivate the students to think of Github as a way to showcase their skills to the world. Arguably, in the tech world, it's becoming more valuable than having a nice resume on LinkedIn. Perhaps recruiters are more interested in seeing the contributions made to an open source project than learning about an amazing GPA or an impressive title at a blue chip company.

Students: for your in class projects, you will have the option to either create private or public projects, although I should suggest you make them public.


It only takes a week to become a Python Ninja!

Oshani Seneviratne

June 27, 2012

We are one sixth the way through our course. Before we started, we gave a quiz to assess our students' technical and entrepreneurial skills, and thereby to gauge our curriculum accordingly. The answers we got for the quiz indicated that most of our students are good programmers. This was very comforting to us because we only have two days of teaching and lab work: we teach every Tuesdays and Thursdays for one and half hours (shared between the technical and entrepreneurial instructors) followed by three hours of lab time. Since we don't have much teaching time, we wanted to dive in to complex things right away, and we couldn't have asked for better students!

However, since none of the students have not programmed in python before, we decided to teach the basics of python on the first day of class. We covered a range of topics in Python: basic syntax, strings, user input, useful data structures such as lists, tuples, dictionaries and functions. This was a lot material for a first day of class, but almost the entire class seem to grasp everything that was covered and were very enthusiastic to learn the language. We gave them four programming exercises to complete during the lab time. The questions were to implement the fibonacci function, the zellers algorithm to output the day of a given date, the rock paper scissors game that takes in user input, and the Caesar cipher to encode a given string using a cyclic cipher.

On the second day of class we covered slightly more advanced topics such as object oriented programming, exceptions, regular expressions and python shortcuts. Everybody was so in awe at how multi-line code fragments in other languages can be written in just a single line of code in Python. I think we got them convinced that python is indeed the language to do rapid application prototyping! We made the lab exercises for the second class a little hard, especially since they have the weekend to complete it. The lab exercises were to draw and animate a wheel across the screen using the graphics library, reuse that wheel to draw and animate a car, implement a class to perform algebraic operations on polynomials,  write regular expressions to validate an email string and to get the weather of Manila from, implement few functions that make use of list comphrehensions and python built-in functions, and to find the number of common tuples in a given dataset. Successful completion of this assignment meant that they can tackle any programming task in Python. We have started grading last week's assignments and we are starting to see lot of emerging stars and python ninjas already!

First Encounter!!

Danny Castonguay

June 19, 2012

We had our first lecture and lab session yesterday. From 4-6PM we introduced the students to the course curriculum, taught them a few things about the internet (thank you for your excellent Internet Trends report), followed by an introduction to Python. Every instructor engaged the students both in class and during the lab from 6-9PM. 

During the lab period, we realized that most restaurants are closed by 6PM so this is something we'll have to look into. It would be great to arrange for some sort of catering.

We were delighted to see the level of competence from the 25 students. By 9PM, almost everyone had completed the assignment and had left the lab. Clearly writing a simple cypher in Python was no match for them ;-)

Pictures will be coming up soon!

Philippines: First Impressions

Oshani Seneviratne

June 12, 2012

After a very long plane ride I arrived in the Philipines yesterday afternoon. My plane ride involved few stops and I was essentially travelling for more than half a day. So, needless to say I was very tired when I got here. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the NAIA (the International Airport in Manila). There was a VIP reception for me, and the customs and immigration took no time at all! This was a very cool experience for me, because being a Sri Lankan immigration is usually a very torturous experience! I was greeted by officers from PTCAT who had kindly arranged my transportation to the University hotel. Everybody was so cheerful and friendly. This was very refreshing for me, especially since I was tired from my journey. The driver of the car offered some touristy advice, what parts of Manila I should avoid, and was very enthusiastically answering all my questions about the country. All in all, I had a very good first experience of the country, and looking forward to the next two months!