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The success of the Google Summer of Code program within ASF demonstrates the interest and potential impact Apache projects could have on grooming next generation software developers. Many projects have benefited from the GSoC contributions and some have succeeded in retaining the students as active PMC members. While GSoC is a good vehicle for potential student committers, we could extend the impact and broaden the reach. Beyond GSoC, currently there is no compelling mechanism for interested students to venture into the 150+ Apache project issue trackers to find out an interesting topic to contribute. We propose to build on the GSoC success and create a common forum for PMC’s to propose topics and volunteer to mentor well defined and suitably scoped student research projects. These student projects create a win-win situation for both the Apache projects and the students.
As an exemplar, we will discuss the Apache Airavata project engagement with student academic projects. The globally distributed locations of PMC members of the Apache Airavata project has resulted in the successful launch of many student research projects in the US, Indian and Sri Lanka. Brief descriptions of the projects, their inclusion within existing university curricula and their successes and challenges will be presented. We will then elaborate on how these experiences can be generalized and modeled as a systematic mechanism to catalyze student research projects. While particularly sharing the experiences from developing countries, we discuss how these ideas are globally applicable in exposing students to the ASF model, enabling them to discuss their ideas and work with leading researchers and open source developers around the world, motivating them through virtual hackathons and eventually creating potential pathways to Apache Committership.
The proposed effort raises many open questions. However, initiated through this talk, we would like to hear feedback from Apache projects and the user community and take the idea further with the Apache Community Development PMC.