I was often asked by some student friends about the projects they can work on, here I would like to introduce some of the oppurtunities students can explore with Sun Microsystem's brand open source software like Netbeans, Glassfish, OpenSolaris, JavaFX, OpenSPARC, VirtualBox, OpenOffice, Java and MySQL to name a few, the reason why Sun technologies can be a compelling choice for the student community is Sun technologies are available to you free or open source and it has a rich developer community, forums, mailing lists which can always help you.
For a student, Sun Microsystem's open source technologies are a boon to say the least in that they get every thing they need from IDE, Database, Application programming language, the highly secure Solaris Operating system, in short, virtually a complete software stack for free, its extremely important that they explore these technologies at the earlier phases of their academics so that they can reap the full benefits of these technologies which will help them not only in executing successful academic research projects with the latest cutting edge technologies but also end up in lucrative professional careers as well. Here are the step by step approach a student can take as far as exploring these technologies.
I am not sure about your specific interests but sky is the limit as far as exploring Sun Microsystems open source technologies are concerned, you can get everything you need to explore completely for FREE with open source to play with, for example if you are interested in hardware design, then openSPARC is for you, interested in exploring the highly scalable and secure operating system? then OpenSolaris is for you, or a programming geek, go with Open Java.
Start with any of the above technologies you are interested in, download them for free, install them, start playing with, you will appreciate these technologies for sure.
2. Get trained, get access to training materials through SAI (Sun Academic Initiative) Learning connection
Visit the above page, register as a student and get access to all training materials and courses right from learning java, exploring Netbeans, open source, etc absolutely FREE!
3. Get help
Got struck? You can always post your questions by visiting the above page, get advice from experts for solutions to your problems related to these technologies.
Sun has tie ups with leading universities all over the world and has a Campus Ambassador program for student developers, which students can leverage to a greater extent to fulfil their academic objectives as well as career goals, I know that through this program, there are several students mentored by Sun Engineers which resulted in exciting projects, one such example, openSolaris in USB developed in India.
The Events Calendar page updates about the Sun Microsystem's campus events for different universities where one can check the future Sun events in their universities, also look for Sun Microsystems job or internships available for students,where one can kick start their careers with cutting edge technologies with Sun.
For more details about oppurtunities and career options available to students with Sun open source technologies, do contact me, also you can always look for more details in Sun Student Central web page anytime.