Summer of Code/Application Guidelines
There is intentionally no specific format to our applications. BUT... students are strongly encouraged to be detailed, creative, and interactive with the BRL-CAD developers throughout the application process.
As such, there are several things that you should and should not do when applying. Be sure to check out the checklist of things that you need to do before, during, and after GSoC. As for your actual application, make sure it at least includes the following:
- Personal Information
- E-mail address
- IRC username
- Brief background info
- Project Information
- Project Title
- Brief project summary (<500 words)
- Detailed project description (>500 words)
- Development timeline with at least three milestones
- References to any code or algorithms you want to use
Writing a Successful Application
Early proposal submissions are strongly encouraged as it gives us more time to review the proposal in detail, comment on it, potentially ask for additional input, and iterate with the student on their ideas. Submitting closer to the deadline isn't necessarily a negative consideration as all submissions are predominantly judged on merit, but submitting and discussing early is an advantage for submissions that have similar goals.
Students should propose what they actually want to work on, how they intend to work on it, what they intend to DO, what they know about that task, some details about themselves, etc. Their ability to perform the task is outright presumed by the nature of submitting a detailed application. Students should propose a task that they are comfortable and knowledgeable with performing within the timeframe of the program and considering any extenuating circumstances.
Be Detailed and Articulate. Go into detail about what you intend to do and how you intend to do it. Don't have typos and be clear in your writing. Cite academic references if they're relevant to your work. Create diagrams, show prototypes, create mock-up visuals, and provide more information via external links. You don't have to solve everything, but we need to see that you've thought things through. Impress us.
Get Involved Early. You need to join our IRC channel, compile the code, try things out, and get involved in our community. Talk to the other developers, find a mentor that likes your proposal idea. Don't forget to mention your IRC nick in your application. We interact with a lot of people so give us a personality that we can recognize when it comes to reviewing the applications. Communicate early, communicate often.
Be Bold. We love new innovative ideas. You should make sure your idea fits into the scope of our project and is something we're interested in mentoring, but new projects are welcome. If your proposal is for one of our ideas, be innovative and ambitious in your solution.
Be Realistic. Make sure the scope of your work is feasible and that you will have the necessary skills to implement your project on time. Don't be so bold that you are unrealistic, keep your abilities and time constraints in mind. If you've got another part-time or full-time job, you probably won't be able to put in the effort or time necessary.
Be Passionate. Show enthusiasm for your idea. Be excited to work with us. Excitement and passion are never a substitute for competence, but they vastly help your chances all other factors being equal. Express your passion and any background information about yourself that reinforces your interests.
Don't copy/paste our ideas. If all you have to say about the idea is what we've said, it will be rejected. They are just meant to be starting points.
Don't be brief. Anticipate questions, include details. If your application isn't any more than a few hundred words or less, then you're probably not including useful/necessary detail about the project, your plans, or yourself. Brief proposals very quickly get cut, especially when compared to proposals in similar areas that do include detail.
Don't forget to tell us about yourself. Most of what we know about you and your abilities is going to come from your application. Include details about your background, experience, and anything else relevant to your work. If you have obligations that will impact your proposal, be upfront. You should be interacting with our community on IRC or on the developer mailing list long before you submit your proposal so we have an idea how you interact.
Don't be intimidated. Your ideas will be questioned and critiqued. We don't all agree, even amongst ourselves often. You will need to be able to openly and publicly talk about your ideas without being defensive. Be open to the ideas and suggestions of others and be willing to amicably engage in discussions.
Don't be discouraged. During the application process, we receive a lot of applications. Be patient. If we don't respond to your application for more information, it usually means that it's either really bad or really good. Understand that we have a lot to sort through and discuss. It's a very competitive process given we can only accept a limited number of students. If you have specific questions, engage the mentors.