The idea behind the Merit Badge system is to create a bootstrap path for people seeking to learn practical, technical subjects relatively quickly. It is intended to be organic and non-limiting, while simultaneously providing a small amount of basic structure.
Initially, Merit Badges are intended to convey entry-level competency: after completing the requirements for a given badge, it is intended that the student should then be capable of taking on projects in that discipline in a more or less self directed manner. Several groups of Badges have been grouped together into "clusters"; in this case, the Student should, after completing the required badges, finish a Cluster by completing an original project with the help of their SME.
Each Merit Badge had three essential components:
- Goals -- Each Merit Badge provides a specific set of goals or requirements; generally these consist of between 5 and 10 points, many of which will have some number of component sub-requirements. These requirements are meant to be a guide which will provide a hands-on introductory tour of the discipline in question.
- Reference Material -- Each Merit Badge should have a corresponding set of articles, videos and/or links to guide the student through the above Goals.
- Subject Matter Experts -- Each Merit Badge will have a list of local Subject Matter Experts, people who are willing and able to provide mentoring and directin to the learning experience. The SMEs are also responsible for "signing off" that the student has completed each requirement.
 The Process
In a nutshell:
- Decide on a merit badge or cluster. All Badges are entry-level and assume no prior competency in the subject matter (although your SME may have a preferred order within each cluster).
- Read the requirements and familiarize yourself with at least the basic structure of the reference material.
- Contact an SME associated with that Badge and tell them that you're working on this Badge. They may or may not wish to meet with you and discuss your planned progress.
- As you complete goals, have your SME sign off on them; this may be done on the wiki or by printing out the Merit Badge requirements page.
- Help your SME mentor one other person.
- Once all goals are completed, have your SME put your achievement on the agenda for the next meeting that you and they can both be present for.
- Receive accolades!
- Upon completion of a cluster, demonstrate your Cluster project at a meeting!
 Merit Badges
 Electronics Cluster
- Soldering -- Implementation of basic circuits
- Electronics Tools -- Use of Oscilloscope, Multimeter, Power Supply, etc.
- Micro Controllers -- Programing microcontrollers.
- Circuit Design -- Basic circuit design
- Benchwork -- THIS IS A PLACEHOLDER FOR REAL TBD MERIT BADGES
- Cloning -- Basics of DNA Replication
- BioInformatics -- Analysis of Biological Information
- Synthetic Organisms -- Fucking with Life, Man
- Evolution -- Evolutionary Biology
 Computer Programming
- Programming Basics -- Basics concepts of computer programming
- Algorithms -- Algorithm programming
- Programming Tools -- Version Control, build management, debugging, &c
- Language -- One particular language, eg Python, C, or Scheme
- Ethernet Cabling -- Basics of cabling: RJ45 and RJ11
- TCP IP -- Tube Engineering
- Network Protocols -- Common Layer 4/7 Protocols
- Wireless -- Wireless Networking
 Computer Systems
 Security and Cryptography
- Crypto Basics -- "what's a hash function?" "what's a public key?" "how do I use gpg?" "will you sign my key?" "what does that big SSL warning mean?"
- Crypto Programming -- fun with OpenSSL
- Theory of Cryptography -- a few reductions never hurt anyone.
- Secure Coding -- how not to write code, code auditing
- Bug Hunting -- be vewy vewy quiet! fuzzing and a tiny bit of exploitation.
- Dynamic Analysis -- well, hacking Valgrind to make it do your bidding, really.
- Add more...
 Machine Learning
- Decision Trees -- Decision Trees, with a bit of information theory
- Basic Classifiers -- Naive Bayes and SVMs
- Basic Clustering -- metric spaces and k-Means clustering
- Neural Networks -- neural networks: modelling, a few forms of propagation, and implementation
- Audio Visual -- Basics of AudioVisual presentation
- Knots and Splices -- Useful knots and splices for everyday use
- Sewing -- Making and repairing stuff with textiles.
- Carbon Fiber -- Carbon fiber (sheet and bar) construction
- Bicycles -- Basic bicycle maintenance and hacking
- Locksport -- locksport: hobby lockpicking
 Status & Needs
The NoiseBridge Merit Badge Scheme should currently be considered ALPHA QUALITY. Contributors and collaborators are actively sought in the form of:
- Subject Matter Experts -- If you feel like you have expertise to share, consider signing up to be an SME! Pick a merit badge you feel qualified to help with, or create one in your area of expertise.
- Merit Badge Creators -- These are the basic set of Merit Badges I came up with after talking it over with a couple of potential SMEs. This list should by no means be considered authoritative; please feel free to create a new one.
- Reference Writers -- Each Merit Badge page should have a certain amount of reference material. At a bare minimum, each page should have links to recommended material available elsewhere on the internet. Anyone who feels up to it should feel free to write up documentation to match the requirements for a particular badge.
- People with Art Skills should feel free (actually, should feel begged) to come up with graphics for each badge. A good idea might be to start by creating a template image (in the shape of the noisebridge logo-thing, for example) and then customizing per badge.
- Random People with Opinions -- feel free to drop me a line or grab me at a meeting.
 Creating a New Badge
I anticipate that there will be lots more badges in the near future. If you feel that your interest isn't recommended here, I implore you, write up the badge you want to see. Please, however, don't create requirements unless you feel comfortable acting as the SME for the badge you're creating; if a badge you want to *earn* isn't here, you'll need to find (or become!) an expert to help you create a set of goals.
Goals should consist of 5 to 10 items, which may have sub-items; for example, the Foo Badge might have goals in the form:
- Explain the injuries that can befall you while Fooing. Describe first aid for those injuries.
- Demonstrate the ability to Foo a Bar and a Baz. Explain the difference, and when each is appropriate.
- Complete TWO of the following projects:
- Recite RFC 3092 from memory.
- Fnord fnord fnord
- Prevent Eve from Fooing Alice and Bob in all the following cases:
- Eve works for Isaac
- Eve works for Justin
- Eve is an agent of Justin, pretending to work for Isaac
- Eve is Bob's ex-wife
- Eve is a friend of Dorothy
- Hello World
The first alpha-quality badge should soon be available as Knots and Splices.
 External References
- Boy Scout merit badges: http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Merit_Badges