High Performance Computing (HPC), Computational Science and Engineering (CSE), and data science rely on high-quality software, and the developers of this software are critical to the impact of HPC, CSE, data science, and the larger scientific community. It is increasingly recognized that such developers need a unique combination of skills: expertise in software development together with a deep understanding of the scientific field for which the software is being written. Recently, the term “Research Software Engineer” (RSE) has been applied to people in such roles; this term originated in the UK in 2012, and has become widely recognized worldwide over the past several years.
Although many research projects rely heavily on RSE contributions, formal recognition of the unique RSE role is often lacking. Sometimes, these positions are pigeonholed into the existing hierarchy of research positions, such as postdoctoral associates and research scientists in academia, or analogous positions at other kinds of institutions, including at national labs and in industry. However, this classification does not adequately describe RSE responsibilities, and can cause problems for RSEs who seek career progression. This lack of a defined position and career outlook leads many promising practitioners to abandon research altogether. In response, many research institutions are creating specific positions and groups for RSEs, and several national organizations of RSEs have formed.
Building on this recent growth, this workshop will bring together RSEs and their allies from HPC and related disciplines, to grow the RSE community by establishing and strengthening professional networks of current RSEs and RSE leaders. Participants will discuss their experiences, both positive and negative, and describe issues they have faced at their institutions. Institutional and national RSE groups will present their experiences, activities, and resources, and solicit ideas for further ways they can support the RSE community.