As scientists, we are trained, socialized, and incentivized to share the results of our scientific research with others. Hearing about other research frequently influences the path we take with our own work. It is relatively rare, however, for scientists to share their processes, tools, and experiences in developing (much less maintaining) the software through which “science” results have been obtained. There are few venues (workshops, conferences, journals, etc.) with both strong participation by computational scientists and where software development issues would be considered in scope. Likewise, funding agencies have tended to focus on the science results over software products. And software engineering is generally not part of the education or training of computational scientists. As a consequence, computational scientists are socialized to think of software as a means to an end in producing the “real” results of interest rather than a long-lived tool for research. The Community Outreach aspect of the IDEAS project is intended to begin the long-term process of trying to change this aspect of scientific computing culture, while helping disseminate the results of work by the IDEAS team and our collaborators.
We are developing and delivering training materials based on the work of the Methodologies and xSDK teams. We are providing in-person training opportunities as well as webinars and videos that will complement the written documentation accompanying xSDK products and Methodologies. Over time, we are developing a library of material that can be tailored for different audiences, different needs and interests, and different time frames.
Interactive training events (i.e., webinars and in-person classes) are also an important opportunity for us to learn more about the software productivity challenges and successes of participants, as part of our efforts to increase the visibility of this area and, over the long term, develop a community of researchers who are aware of software productivity issues, and want to actively address them. Through IDEAS team members at the three DOE/ASCR computing facilities (ALCF, NERSC, and OLCF), we plan extensive outreach to the staff and users of those facilities as well. Over time, we intend to broaden our outreach to other parts of DOE, as well as other agencies within the US and internationally who are engaged in high-end computationally-based research.
Because it is hard to build a community without opportunities for discussion and exchanging ideas and experiences, we also are establishing an online presence, with various tools and venues to enable the productivity community to interact effectively even when we’re not all sitting in the same room. As we roll out these capabilities, we’ll link to them in the Resources section of this web site.