By Diana Suleimenova, PhD student at Brunel University London.
A couple of weeks ago, the Software Sustainability Institute organised a three-day long Collaborations Workshop for anyone and everyone, but mostly researchers, developers and software engineers that are interested in the implications of open data and the Internet of Things. JISC was pleased to sponsor a travel grant for a PhD student and the prizes on the hack day. Below are Diana Suleimanova’s thoughts on her first Collaboration Workshop.
For those who missed the Collaborations Workshop 2017 (CW17) held at the University of Leeds, or those who have an interest in attending it in the future, let me share my first experiences. I was the lucky PhD student to receive a bursary from Jisc to attend the CW17 organised by the Software Sustainability Institute. I heard about the Collaborations Workshop from previous attendees and I was curious to experience it myself.
The workshop revolved around an important topic for researchers in science, namely Internet of Things (IoT) and Open data: implications for research. In my view, the CW17 can be divided into three parts: share research interests, listen to academics and professionals, and the Hackday. Attendees of the CW17 were able to introduce and share a broad range of research interests. This allowed us to understand the interests and diversity of research areas of PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and academics. Informal collaborations helped create an atmosphere where attendees were easily approachable, e.g. to have a research related conversations and to exchange knowledge. For me, the crucial aspect of this part of the workshop was getting the chance to share my research about simulation of refugee movements to a wider audience. Networking was also important, as I met new people of different specialties and gleaned some refreshing perspectives on my research.
Guest speakers from different professional backgrounds presented entertaining, fascinating and educational practices of IoT and open data. The most informative aspects were technological developments of IoT and applications of open data to our daily lives. A mini-workshop provided the opportunity to choose from different areas of research. The sessions I attended were very valuable and are already helping me in my research: data analysis using Python (pyDataView), software assessment framework and effective data sharing platforms.
The CW17 Hackday is a practical and collaborative event. An important part of it was focused around sharing ideas and working in teams to develop new software tools that can have an impact in the future. I suggested to develop a visualisation tool for refugee movements, as this is a hot theme in the media at the moment, and it is also the focus of my research. Together with my new team, we accomplished impressive results. We combined our valuable and various skills to develop an app we called Visualflee. It was an absolute learning experience which taught me to consider novelty, usefulness, implementation, transparency and future potential for developing sustainable software in research.
Three days of full engagement through sharing, listening and doing extended my knowledge in software development, allowed me to witness interesting and enlightening research solutions and meet new collaborators. CW17 is a great way to come out and share your knowledge, experience and skills; collaborate, make new friends, share research interests and learn from everyone you meet.