How We Work

CROSS follows the design of NSF's well-known Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRCs) but adds an incubator that funds graduated Ph.D. students to continue working on their research prototype as postdoctorial incubator fellows. The focus of the incubator fellow is to build a robust developer community. At CROSS we help seed developer communities with our Research Experience Program: the program matches incubator fellows with undergraduate and graduate students. Students are often looking for projects to fulfill  requirements of their degree, such as summer projects, senior projects, term projects, masters projects, or even Ph.D. projects. Incubator fellows are a great source of project ideas and they make for excellent mentors. To become successful open source software leader they have to learn how to delegate and manage a multitude of students, and they have to build the necessary infrastructure to make community contributions as frictionless as possible. Since all software produced at CROSS is licensed under an open source software license, students can and often do continue contributing to incubator projects even after they graduated. Incubator fellows graduate when they found a way to sustain the project with outside funding, or when CROSS and its industry members decide to no longer fund the project due to lack of progress or interest.

In addition to incubator fellows, CROSS also funds research fellows. These are Graduate Student Research (GSR) appointments for students who are working on highly innovative Ph.D. projects that are of interest to CROSS and its industry membership and have plausible paths to a successful open source software projects. Note however, that CROSS does not require research fellows to produce or maintain software. They are the carriers of innovation at CROSS and are evaluated by the strength of their research and their alignment with topics CROSS prefers to fund. Innovations coming out of research projects either directly flow into existing incubator projects (via the Research Experience Program) or can transition into incubator projects themselves.

Both incubator and research fellows are reviewed twice a year as part of the biannual Industry Advisory Board (IAB) meeting. CROSS also releases a call for proposals focussing on a list of topics suggested by the IAB. Members of industry make funding recommendations and the Director of CROSS makes the final decision in consultation with the CROSS Advisory Committee.

A prestigious Practitioner-in-Residence Program invites and funds well-known leaders of open source projects and other areas relevant to CROSS to visit UC Santa Cruz for an extended amount of time during which they teach especially themed versions of existing courses and mentor CROSS students. Like an Artist in Residence, the practitioner will continue to work on personal projects as well as contribute to the academic environment with a mix of teaching duties, offering feedback and critique, collaborating on research opportunities, and providing guidance.

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