While books and lectures are essential, there's nothing like real world experience, and that's what Facebook's Open Academy offers to budding software developers. The initiative, which debuted as a pilot program at Stanford, has now expanded to 22 universities' computer science departments across the globe. It not only gives students a chance to work on real open source projects like Ruby On Rails and Mozilla Open Badges, it also pairs them up with mentors for guidance. Of course, we wouldn't be surprised if Facebook's using the program to hunt for gifted devs -- or if young hopefuls see it as their entry into one of the best companies to work for. If you'd like to get involved, or bring the program to your university, check out the program's Facebook page for contact information -- but hurry, the 2014 winter session kicks off in February.

[Image credit: Facebook Open Academy]

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Facebook Open Academy puts students on real coding projects for college credits