This is a guest post from Greg Wilson from the University of Toronto; Greg is hoping to increase awareness of this really cool opportunity, and would especially like to see more women take notice.
Over the past year, we have been piloting a new program in which senior undergrads from several different universities work together on open source projects. Each student registers in a project course at his or her home institution, then works in a team of 4-6 students that span several schools. The goal is to give students hands-on experience with both leading edge software, and the human skills that are just as vital to being successful in the real world.
This term we have 45 students from 14 universities on 8 different projects including geospatial database extensions, configuration tools for the Mozilla Thunderbird email client, soccer-playing robots, and a variety of others. Their work has ranged from surveying users about their needs and designing user interfaces to coding, testing, and preparing releases. There has been a lot of online discussion and negotiation, and some face to face as well: we brought all the students together for three days early in term for meetings, and plan to do it again next term.
We are now recruiting students for the next round (Jan-Apr 2010). Our project list is up at http://ucosp.wordpress.com/projects/, and once again there's going to be a strong emphasis on collaboration and design. If you have a strong B or A average and are interested in taking part, please contact your local faculty organizer --- as past students have discovered, it's a great way to open doors for both grad school and industry, and equally great for discovering that there's more to software development than hacking in C.