Academics in an ivory tower conjures images of people toiling away nicely insulated from many of the concerns of reality. While this has it’s advantages, anyone who’s tried to use a project written for a research paper under a deadline can attest that it doesn’t always result in useful code. While completing my PhD, I found an Apache project that fit well with the work I was doing s I rolled up my sleeves to write some code to make it more useful for solving my own problems. I’ve since had the opportunity to join the project’s PMC and now as a faculty member, I continue to find value in encouraging my own students to contribute to Apache projects. I’ll discuss how academics and Apache projects can find mutual benefit in close collaboration.