By Mike Jackson.
Since June 2012, The Software Sustainability Institute and Software Carpentry have been working with the DiRAC consortium to develop a driving test or basic software skills aptitude test. The test is now ready to be rolled out across DiRAC.
The test is intended to take an hour and covers useful software development skills including creating both shells and secure shells, automation, version control, testing, code review and using public and private keypairs.
The test has been developed in close collaboration with DiRAC project director Jeremy Yates. Also involved, and from University College London, is project manager Harpreet Dhanoa from and Institute fellow James Hetherington, who is also head of UCL's Research Software Development team. Representing EPCC, meanwhile, is Andrew Turner. We adopted an iterative development approach and trialled it with 4 sets of researchers from all three institutions (see, for example blog posts on our first and second dry-runs).
We have now handed over the driving test and Jeremy will roll it out across the DiRAC consortium. Training coordinators at each DiRAC regional site will collectively run through 70 post-doctoral research associates by the end of September and then 130 PhDs and 40 other new users by the end of this year.
Both Software Carpentry and the Software Sustainability Institute will continue to work with Jeremy, and DiRAC, in evaluating the effectiveness of the driving test. This contributes to research into assessing the impact of software development training and in how best to deliver training to UK researchers. We look forward to reporting on its progress.