[OSM-talk] [OSM-dev] Student Project Ideas?
grahamjones139 at googlemail.com
Wed Mar 10 21:40:52 GMT 2010
The process is that we (OpenStreetMap) produce a list of ideas that students
may wish to work on. If the students like the sound of us they will make an
application describing a project proposal.
Google will (assuming we are successful) allocate us a number of student
places - we had 6 last year.
The potential mentors will review all of the applications and agree which
ones to select - this choice will be based on the quality of the
application, but will of course be influenced by the interests of the
potential mentors. Once we know that we have been accepted I will be
contacting the potential mentors to agree how we will do this.
I completely agree that it would be best to encourage students to work on
existing active projects, but to do that we need to help them identify
aspects of those programs that would benefit from development, so that they
can be turned into specific projects - this is why I am keen for people to
identify potential improvements to existing programs!
It is quite possible that a student will work on GSoC and then go off and do
something else, but this is not necessarily the case - one of last year's
students is helping with the administration this year.
Your point on mentoring effort is interesting - I acted as a mentor last
year and fully expected it to be hard work, like training one of our new
graduates at work how to write a computer program, which would have been
very daunting by email in a foreign language. The complete opposite was
the case - the student was very capable and my mentoring did not have to go
much further than pointers on the general approach and code design - he did
all of the testing to chose methods of parsing, data storage etc. himself.
The other thing is what you think mentoring is about - I regard it as a way
of contributing by passing my experience onto someone else, so even if you
do not hear from the student after the end of the project, you should not
regard that as 'no long-term gain' - they will be using that extra
experience for something constructive.
You mean specific GSOC ideas? We'll probably have plenty of those.
> What I was pointing out that just because something would be neat to
> do that doesn't mean that it's appropriate for being handed to a
> student for 3 months.
> Once you have those ideas how are you gong to pick one? I for one think:
> * You should try to make students work on existing /active/ projects
> instead of sending them off on their own for 3 months
> * In particular, assume that they'll be working for 3 months and
> we'll never hear from them again. I think there are some numbers on
> the % of GSOC students that stay around after the 3 months and IIRC
> they're alarmingly low
> * Try to recruit people with programming experience who're already
> contributing to the project in interesting ways that happen to be
> students (and no, I'm not eligible). This will reduce load on mentors
> * Don't underestimate the load on mentors. I've heard from people
> that did mentoring (albeit for complex projects) that spent more time
> on mentoring than it would have taken them to implement the student
> work themselves, and the student disappeared after 3 months so there
> was no long-term gain from it.
Dr. Graham Jones
email: grahamjones139 at gmail.com
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