Research Software Engineers

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research.

It is a privilege to announce the Research Software Engineering Cloud Computing Awards at the RSE 2017 conference! It is clear that cloud computing is helping researchers worldwide, across all disciplines, and it is a key enabler for AI and machine learning at scale. With these awards, Microsoft wants to empower RSEs to explore, educate and extend cloud computing for researchers. The goal is to create a community bridging researchers, university stakeholders, regional teams, and national services, to better understand how Microsoft Azure can enable better, faster and more reproducible research in everyday use.

We are looking for people who are passionate about exploring how cloud computing can be used in research, sharing their experiences with cloud computing, and advocating best practice in their research domain, institution, and/or community. The awards are flexible and will support training, workshops, cloud computing prototype designs and research solutions, and publication of open-source code and frameworks for Microsoft Azure. We are particularly interested in RSEs using AI, machine learning, and data science in their projects.

Each award provides £2000 GBP for education, outreach, and implementation of research solutions using the Microsoft Cloud. This is complemented by 12 months of Microsoft Azure credits at $250 USD per month, for one year. Awardees will be able to use the title RSE Cloud Computing Fellow.

Apply…

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On this page, we've provided more information about the RSE Cloud Computing Award and how it works.

Help

All questions and suggestions should be sent to competition@software.ac.uk.

Terminology

We will use the word event to refer to conferences, meetings, training, workshops and other events.

The word Fellow or Fellows will refer to a recipient of the RSE Cloud Computing Award.

The word expenses will be used to describe expenses incurred for both travel, subsistence and expenses related to the running of and attending events.

Eligibility

Applicants must:

  • Hold a full-time position at a university or non-profit research organisation;
  • Be able to receive award funds into a university/organisation finance account that can be drawn against for reimbursement of incurred expenses;

Applicants may have one or more of the following roles:

  • research software engineer who supports the work of researchers;
  • A researcher who uses software;
  • A developer who writes tools for researchers;
  • In a leadership role in projects or organisations that make heavy use of software, compute, and data services.

Applicants should be UK resident and primarily practicing in the UK. Exceptional applications from outside the UK may be considered at the panel’s sole discretion.

How we decide who succeeds

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The Research Software Engineering (RSE) Cloud Computing Awards, supported by Microsoft, enable RSEs to explore, educate and extend cloud computing for researchers.

Microsoft has championed the Research Software Engineers initiative since its inception. We are strong supporters and participants in the RSE community, and advocate the importance of RSEs as a key pillar of the research ecosystem.  The Azure for Research initiative has involved thousands of researchers worldwide, working on hundreds of projects, to see how cloud computing can empower researchers to achieve more. The goal of the RSE Cloud Computing Awards program is to create a community bridging researchers, university stakeholders, regional teams, and national services, to better understand how Microsoft Azure can enable better, faster, and more reproducible research.

How to apply

Microsoft is proud to work with the RSE Network to support successful applicants with the following benefits:

  • £2000 GBP to support education, outreach, and implementation of research solutions using the Microsoft Cloud;
  • 12 months of Microsoft Azure credits at $250 USD per month, up to $3,000 for one year;
  • Opportunity to provide direct feedback to Microsoft;
  • Promotion of RSE cloud computing activity with Microsoft Azure to a national and global audience, providing visibility of the applicant’s work and impact.
  • Use of the title RSE Cloud Computing Fellow.

Successful applicants should demonstrate…

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We are pleased to announce the first two awardees from the EPSRC USA-UK Research Software Engineer Travel fund. This funding aims to encourage greater collaboration between the UK and USA-based Research Software Engineer communities to help with: investigating emerging hardware and the impact on software; building collaboration around a particular science area; developing common community codes; and building links between computational / computer science and mathematics. The deadline for the next round of the fund is 1st August.

Awardees

Dr Chris Richardson, EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow at the University of Cambridge BP Institute and core developer of the FEnICS software environment for finite element analysis, has been awarded money to enable the visit to the UK of Greg von Winckel, the developer of the ROL optimisation library based at Sandia National Labs. Greg will give seminars in Oxford and Cambridge to share knowledge of the current capabilities of the underlying ROL library and work with Chris and his team on code sprints to develop PyROL, a Python interface to ROL that will enable integration with FEnICS and other codes.

Dr Martin Turner, currently Relationship Manager in the University of Manchester, has had related overlapping secondments being Visualisation Director for the Harwell Imaging Partnership (HIP) at STFC/RAL and Visualisation Group Leader within the Scientific Computing Division in STFC/DL, has been awarded money to support the visit of Marcus D. Hanwell, Technical Leader at Kitware, and lead for the…

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career paths in academicaBy Jonathan Cooper, University College London, Ilektra Christidi, University College London, Thomas Etherington, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Caroline Jay, University of Manchester, Martin O’Reilly, The Alan Turing Institute, Melody Sandells, CORES Science and Engineering Limited, Andy South, Freelance.

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2017 speed blogging series.

“Is there an alternative to the standard academic career path that would actually make research work better?” There are many essential roles that make up a team. At present, the creativity and skills of those outside of a principal investigator role are often hidden behind academic power structures that do not necessarily…

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We need your help with our campaign for Research Software Engineers (i.e. software experts who work in academia).

Last year's survey [1] allowed us to prove that software experts make a huge contribution to research, but often go unacknowledged and are paid less than their research counterparts. To continue our success with this campaign, we need to track how the community evolves over time, so please complete our survey.

It takes around 15 minutes and all demographic questions are non-mandatory.

It would be very helpful if you could forward this email to any software experts you know who work in academia, or anyone who employs software experts in academia.

[1]: See RSE State of the Nation Report 2017, page 21.

About the survey

The purpose of this survey is to collect information about people who develop software that is used in research. We call these people Research Software Engineers (RSEs), but they use many different job titles (including postdoctoral researcher and research assistant).

Please note that this research is not compulsory and even if you decide to participate you can withdraw at any moment.

This study is conducted by the University of Southampton on behalf of the Software Sustainability Institute and complies with University of Southampton ethics guidelines (reference no.: ERGO/FPSE/25269). The investigators are Simon Hettrick and Olivier Philippe. The survey is hosted on Limesurvey servers in Germany and respects the provisions of the Data Protection Act. These records are anonymised and access is strictly protected…

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Candidates are invited to submit an outline proposal in the first instance. Up to £4m is available for this call. EPSRC expects to fund 4 – 8 Fellows in this call, for a period of up to 5 years. Please note only 2 submissions per institution are allowed.

The aim of this call is to provide long-term funding to individuals working as Research Software Engineers who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and will be able to co-ordinate and promote the role of Research Software Engineers in academia. 

Closing date is 8th June 2017.

Please note that you must read the full Call document for guidance before submitting your proposal. 

EPSRC Research Software Engineer Fellowship

The RSE Fellowship describes exceptional individuals in the software field who demonstrate leadership and have combined expertise in programming and a solid knowledge of the research environment. The Research Software Engineer works with researchers to gain an understanding of the problems they face, and then develops, maintains and extends software to provide the answers. As well as having expertise in computational software development and engineering, the RSE Fellow should be an ambassador for the research software community and have the potential to be a future research leader in the RSE community. RSE Fellows should promote the widespread use of computation and software best practice to enhance research.

Relevant links

EPSRC Software as an…

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How to get EPSRC RSE FellowshipBy Christopher Woods, EPSRC RSE fellow, University of Bristol

As one of the RSEs who hit the jackpot and had their EPSRC RSE Fellowship applications funded, I know how crucial it was that my University supported my application. I was very lucky that the University of Bristol provided an excellent letter of support. Among other things, the University committed to a capital budget, management training, and, most importantly, a permanent position helping to create a new Research Software Engineering Group within the Advanced Computing Research Centre in IT Services. These promises demonstrated the partnership and level of commitment that existed between Bristol and myself. I know this was recognised and rated highly by the reviewers and panel.

So, how did I get this level of institutional support? And what recommendations do I have on how you could achieve something similar?

First, I should say that all universities and individuals are different, so this is not a one-size-fits-all objective recipe. However, there are some generalisations that I believe are true.

An RSE Fellowship is a Fellowship

You’re applying for a Fellowship, so the normal advice about how to get a university to support any Fellowship or major grant application is valid. While the Fellowship…

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TexGen: Modelling textilesBy Louise Brown, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham and EPSRC Research Software Engineer Fellow

This article is part of our series: A day in the software life, in which researchers from all disciplines discuss the tools that make their or someone else’s research possible.

Composite materials are increasingly used in a wide range of applications, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries. Here their low weight and high strength are a significant advantage, and they will contribute to achieve targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the weight of components and therefore energy used. They comprise a reinforcement embedded in a matrix and may be made up from many combinations of materials, typically glass or carbon fibre in a polymer matrix.  Often the reinforcements are produced in the form of textiles for ease of handling, either layering ‘2D’ weaves to give the required thickness or by creating complex ‘3D’ weaves which can enhance properties and reduce manufacturing time.

Given the many possible combinations of reinforcement textiles and matrix materials, it is beneficial to be able to model these systems so that simulations can be run to predict properties for both manufacturing processes and the final…

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RSE State of the NationBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

The first State of the Nation Report for Research Software Engineers provides a history of the RSE campaign and a snapshot of the RSE community as it stands today. If you want to know how a name coined during one of our workshops turned into an 800 strong community which is gathering interest from around the world, then the report is a good place to start.

Most research would be impossible without software, and this reliance is forcing a rethink of the skills needed in a traditional research group. With the emergence of software as the pre-eminent research tool used across all disciplines, comes the realisation that a significant majority of results are based, ultimately, on the skill of the experts who design and build that software.

The UK has led the world in supporting a new role in academia: the Research Software Engineer (RSE). This report describes the new expert community that has flourished in UK research, details the successes that have been achieved, and the barriers that prevent further progress.\

The report is available for download from Zenodo: 10.5281/zenodo.495360.

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