Heidi Seibold (Institut für Medizinische Informationsverarbeitung Biometrie und Epidemiologie, LMU München), Daniel Nüst (Institut für Geoinformatik, Universität Münster), February 26, 2019
The RSE community in Germany is filled with life by many committed people. An important building block for the realization of the goals is cooperation of research software engineers on a regional level. Thus local “chapters” can enable a much more regular exchange about problems, challenges, and solutions around software in research. Just as in the association de-RSE e.V. throughout Germany, the focus is on the people developing researching software.
Two new groups came together for the first time last month.
In Munich, Heidi Seibold together with Bernd Bischl (LMU) and Tobias Weber (Leibniz Computing Center) organized a round table at the Leibniz Computing Center. 35 persons from various subjects and scientific institutions in Munich participated, which far exceeded the expectations of the organizers. After the greeting and a short keynote lecture on the topic, almost two hours of constructive discussion took place. Focus topics were the lack of career paths for people who identify themselves as Research Software Engineers, lack of financial means to hire (permanent) Research Software Engineers, and the reputation of research software. Of special interest, of course, was what can be done locally in the Munich area to solve these problems. Among the ideas were the expansion of teaching (e.g. via Software Carpentry courses), education and events on the topic of (computational) reproducibility, the establishment of an RSE Master program (e.g. via the Elitenetzwerk Bayern) and an award for good, sustainable, and open research software. It became clear that many people would like to continue to meet and to support the topic, both in a relaxed atmosphere at regulars’ tables and in working groups or events where concrete goals are tackled. A big thank you goes to the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum and the director Dieter Kranzlmüller for hosting. His team was not only represtented strongly but the data center also provided plenty of snacks and drinks. The day was rounded off with a visit to the Augustiner in Garching, where further conversations were fuelled by savoury dishes, beer, and a nice atmosphere, networks were built, and more ideas were collected. It is simply wonderful when you are no longer lonely and have found a nice group in which you feel understood. Everyone is welcome to join the Munich RSE Mailing List. We are looking forward to new members!
In Münster Daniel Nüst and Stephan Rave also initiated a first informal meeting. 16 interested people met in the pub “Kruse Baimken”, which exceeded all expectations of the organisers, too. Some participants strengthened themselves with typical Westphalian kale while a detailed round of introduction was completed in a relaxed atmosphere. Various faculties and institutes (chemistry, bioinformatics, mathematics) were represented, but common ground was quickly found in the challenges and problems faced by many: How can I develop my career if I program the whole day? How can I develop software sustainably and effectively? How can I publish my work as open source software? How do I communicate with non-programmers about features and requirements? The lively exchange continued until the “last order” was called, though the time did not suffice to come close to discussing solutions. Small individual steps as well as larger changes in cooperation with faculties and the university seem to be necessary, which can be tackled together from now on. To organize further meetings, an ms-RSE mailing list and a chat group were created on the university’s internal Mattermost server and first topics in an Etherpad were recorded. Daniel and Stephan look forward to more members and suggestions!
Local chapters offer a perspective for the newly founded association de-RSE e.V. to develop a broad impact, for example by supporting further education offers, and with an effective flow of information between the association and the universities and research institutions in Germany. Heidi and Daniel look forward to your suggestions for the organization of regional and local chapters (What do you need?) [on GitHub] (https://github.com/DE-RSE/chapter).
Is there a local group with you? Then add them to the list on GitHub.
Are you thinking about organizing an RSE meeting in your city? Here are a few tips: