He’s 28 years old and he looks like an average college student. But don’t let that first impression fool you: Dries Buytaert is far from average.

Currently a PhD student at the University of Ghent, and not even in his thirties yet, Dries has already managed to build up an impressive resume, which you can consult on his personal website. Most people know him as the founder and maintainer of Drupal, a brilliantly written piece of open source software, used by thousands of high-end developers worldwide to build content management systems, blogs, forums, collaborative authoring environments, etc. He’s the driving force behind the enthusiastic Drupal community (including the Belgian one), and an experienced speaker at international conferences.

If you want to know how it all started, it’s right after the jump.

When Dries attended the University of Antwerp as an Informatics student, he mashed up a messaging system to facilitate communication between fellow students living in the same area. After graduation, Dries started to explore web technologies and used the system to experiment with RSS, content moderation, rating and community building. Gradually, and thanks to a lot of word-of-mouth promotion of enthusiastic early adopters, Drupal organically grew into a solid content management platform. One of the main breakthroughs came when Drupal was used as platform for Howard Dean‘s political campaign in 2004 (which was remarkable due to the extensive use of the internet).

While Drupal is used primarily by consulting and development organizations from the United States, the European community is largely made out of individuals. Drupal has some excellent references: a part of Yahoo‘s website and intranet is built with Drupal, as well as Hillary Clinton’s campaigns website, Sony’s MusicBox website, Linden Lab (makers of Second Life), Asia.PlayStation.com, AskANinja, United Nation’s FightHunger.org, Moby‘s blogs, etc. Closer to home, references include the famous shock log ZatteVrienden.be, 16Plus.be and Indymedia.be.

While Dries Buytaert (evidently) receives job offers on a regular basis, he remains quite secretive about the road he’s planning to take after finishing his PhD in Computer Science. He’s already taking necessary steps to ensure the future of Drupal and its community.

If you want more information, please visit Drupal.org or Dries’ personal website.