ICEI's bottom-line purpose is to fund and organize civil engineering on the whole Internet infrastructure. More specifically, the Institute exists to support work with benefits that are important network-wide but too diffuse to create incentives for normal commercial or political funding mechanisms.
The Institute's principal tools are Fellowships, project grants. and bounties. Fellowships are directed to people, grants to specific projects with deliverables, and bounties to specified deliverables that do not yet have active projects.
Institute Fellows will be selected by the Board from persons with a record of vision, excellence and service proven by substantial and continuing contributions to software, network hardware, standards, or research. Fellows will be paid a stipend compe titive with industry salaries, and will be (in effect) full-time civil engineers dedicated to maintaining and improving the digital infrastructure.
Senior Fellowships are appointments for life, subject to a Board review no fewer than three and no later than five years after the initial appointment. They are conferred to recognize a record of excellence over many years of service and to free the Fellow to pursue extended work on infrastructure improvents. A Senior Fellowship carries with it a stipend competitive with industry salaries for senior network engineers and senior software architects.
Junior Fellowships are two-year term appointments extended to relatively new talent that has demonstrated dedication and excellence on particular projects, and may in time meet the qualifications for Senior Fellowship. A Junior Fellowship carries with it a stipend competitive with industry salaries for intermediate-level network engineers and software architects.
Fellows will be expected to advise the Board and the President, and to assist by mentoring and monitoring grant recipients.
Grants and bounties
Most Institute grants will be directed to the support of specific, existing infrastructure projects. Bounties will be a special category of grant that may occasionally be posted for objectives not being pursued by any known project.
Grants will be authorized by the Board or its designees on the recommendation of Institute Fellows. On completion of grant objectives for major projects, principal workers will be evaluated as potential Junior Fellows.
All grants and bounties will have a specified set of deliverables. The deliverables may be (1) running code, (2) realized hardware designs, (3) specified deployment or performance objectives.
It is important to note that there are certain things which the Institute will not fund as a matter of policy and philosophy.
- We will not fund pure research; some applied research grants may be available, but must have engineering deliverables that improve the infrastructure.
- We will not fund white papers or policy studies.
- We will not fund projects that have sufficiently concentrated benefits to be pursued as for-profit startups.
- We will not support or fund implementation for technical standards known to be encumbered by non-royalty-free patents.
- We will not fund closed-source software development or proprietary hardware design under any circumstances at all.
Conferences and travel
Though the Internet is a wonderful communications medium, it is not a complete substitute for face-to-face interaction in building teams and trust bonds. The Institute may from time to time subsidize physical conferences and professional travel for its Fellows, grantees, and other affiliates.
Operations and Overhead
The Institute is designed as a no-bricks-and-mortar organization. We intend not even to own any computer hardware on a continuing basis - our nearest equivalent of a physical plant will be space on hosted servers. At least 90% of spending will be externally directed to stipends, grants, bounties, and conference/travel support.
On the other hand, our founders have learned by experience that service-organization models relying too heavily on volunteer altruism are not sustainable. From the 10% we allow for operations, we will pay salaries to our officers and operations people, and those salaries will be competitive with what industry pays for the equivalent skillsets. In this way we hope to avoid the chronic problems of distraction, burnout, and inability to attract first-rate talent that have plagued organizations with similar missions in the past.