Open Source Research Experience

Matching UC researchers with summer students and sponsors.

Information on OSRE 2022


Inspired by Google Summer of Code, the Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS) pioneered the Open Source Research Experience (OSRE) in the summer of 2020, a marketplace for open source project ideas that matches students to mentors, and engages members of industry to fund and participate in open source based summer internships. The goal of this program is to increase student capabilities in working in open source, add productive contributors to on-going projects, and further promote open source at UC Santa Cruz and other UC campuses. OSRE is now run by the OSPO to educate students by supporting their contribution to developer communities in open source projects and providing highly relevant open source experiences to undergrads.

The benefits for industry partners and other interested sponsors include the identification of potential recruits, the encouragement of open source practices in academic research, and early access to technologies in research prototypes.
The benefits for participating mentors include the opportunity to attract and support talented student developers to their open source community.
The benefits for participating students include the opportunity to work with mentors who are genuinely interested in outcomes and exposure to technologies that can significantly improve their job opportunities.

The OSPO values diversity and inclusion in all of our projects. We invite students from traditionally excluded groups in tech and open source communities to apply to this program. Contributions are welcomed from both UC Santa Cruz and non-UC Santa Cruz students. The OSPO is partnering with the Baskin Engineering Inclusive Excellence Hub to increase our ability to reach a more diverse pool of students and mentors.

OSRE accepts project ideas from researchers at the University of California at any of the affiliated national labs (LANL, LBL, LLNL). All projects must be open source to be considered for this program. See information for interested mentors below.

Industry partners and other sponsors are welcome to support this program by indicating their interest in particular project idea portfolios. Sponsors support is used directly to fund these student summer internships. OSRE mentors will invite sponsoring organizations to participate in a blend of open source software strategies with graduate-level research in a concentrated environment of mentorship, including the opportunity to meet and interact with students and mentors, and an invitation to an end-of-summer presentation where they will show off the results of their work.

An overview of the sponsorship framework for the 2021 summer program is available. The 2022 framework is available here.

Highlights from Previous Years

Information for Interested Participants

Information for Undergraduates Students Interest in Applying

Why should I apply?

  • The summer project is aimed to increase a student’s real-world coding and developer skills. Selected students benefit from direct mentorship to guide their work and improve their technical abilities.

What skills do I need to apply?

  • Each project idea has listed required skills needed for to contribute. If you see a project you are interested in, reach out to the mentors for specific questions about what capabilities you will need.

How do I apply?

  • Look at the List of Project Ideas.
  • Contact the relevant mentor and discuss the project and timeline to assure it is right for you. Complete the OSRE application explaining your work plan for the summer.
  • Send the final applications to the project mentor and Stephanie Lieggi by the deadline.

What are the application deadlines?

  • Applications deadlines will be posted towards the end of Winter quarter. They are usually in April.

What is the duration of the program?

  • Student summer experience runs for 10 to 12 weeks over the course of the summer.

Does my project have to be open source?

  • Yes. All work under this program must be open sourced upon completion.

  • Note: All software created as part of an OSRE project must be released as free and open source under a license that is both approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and recognized as free by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

Do I have to be on-campus to do this program?

  • No. This program is expected to be done remotely. There is no requirement for students to come to campus.

Is this program open to non-UC Santa Cruz students?

  • Yes. Any student over 18 can apply. This includes community college students. For students at non-U.S. universities, please reach out to Stephanie Lieggi to discuss your eligibility.

OSRE Application

If you find a project in the project ideas page that interests you, please first contact the mentor of the project and discuss details of how you might be able to contribute. Students are expected to reach out to these mentors early on in the proposals stage and should have had some interaction with them prior to their applications. Once you and the mentor come to an agreement, the next step is to formerly apply to this program. For your application, please follow the template below. If you don’t see a specific topic or activity listed on our ideas page feel free to suggest your own idea by contacting Stephanie Lieggi.

Proposal Template


  • Proposal Title

  • Define the problem you are trying to solve

  • Provide background about the current state of the problem and describe your solution

Project goals

  • Project objectives and expected deliverables

Implementation Plan

  • Project methodology (How will you work to meet your goals?)

  • Describe the project’s technical elements

Project Timeline

  • Project plan and deliverables schedule

Biographical information

  • Contact information: full name, email address, current academic affiliation

    • Optional: Blog URL, github or twitter accounts; any additional contact information you think we need.
  • Relevant experience / previous work

  • Relevant education background; list relevant coursework if applicable.

  • Programming/development interests and strengths

Note to all applicants:

  • Seek out mentors and other relevant contributors to learn more about the communities you want to work in. You are encouraged to ask questions and mentors are here to help you improve your application.

Information for Interested Mentors

Why should I be a mentor?

  • If you could use undergraduate research assistance over the summer with your on-going research, this is a great opportunity to get matched to tops students.

  • You get to decide which student projects sound interesting to you and who you want to work with.

Who can be a mentor?

  • UC affiliated faculty, researchers or graduate students working on projects that are or will ultimately be part of an open source community.

Do the projects we want help with need to be open source?

  • Yes. All projects facilitated through this program must be open source projects.

  • Note: All software created as part of a OSRE project must be released as free and open source under a license that is both approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and recognized as free by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

What kind of projects are you accepting? Are their specific technologies or topics that you prefer?

  • The OSPO is interested in supporting a wide range of open source communities within the UC system. We have no requirement for the type of technology being worked on so long as it is or ultimately will be part of an open source project or community.
Stephanie Lieggi
Stephanie Lieggi
Executive Director of OSPO, Executive Director of CROSS
Carlos Maltzahn
Carlos Maltzahn
Adjunct Professor, Founder & Director of CROSS, OSPO

My research interests include programmable storage systems, big data storage & processing, scalable data management, distributed systems performance management, and practical reproducible research.