User-driven approach to kit roll-out and training lessons learned shared with Australasian eResearch community

From 11-15 October, NeSI team members joined eResearch communities from across Australasia as the 2021 eResearch Australasia conference delivered a virtual programme covering topics ranging from software and tools, workforce and communities, platforms and capabilities, and skills and training. Recaps and the recordings of NeSI's presentations are shared below:

Rolling out new kit for NZ data scientists, a user-centred approach

As is the case for many other eResearch Centres around the world, the increase in researchers applying Machine Learning techniques to answer their research questions is driving NeSI to take another look at the services we provide, from more interactive ways to access compute to training offerings, from software packages supported to hardware. NeSI made a modest initial investment into NVIDIA’s A100 GPU technology early this year to test out how the latest technology could be useful for local researchers applying Machine Learning techniques to their research. As an organisation NeSI aims to apply Agile practices and manage our services with a Product Management approach. We took the ‘launch’ for the new A100s as an opportunity to focus on our Product Management practice with some useful learnings. In this session we share some of our experiences including:

  • Importance of having clear goals
  • Bringing together a cross-functional team
  • Focusing on the users
  • The ‘Post-Launch’ phase



NeSI training: Lessons learned

NeSI’s purpose is to grow the computational capability of New Zealand researchers to ensure our future prosperity. The execution gets tricky when considering what it takes to successfully and sustainably grow computational capability: namely, building community, consistently delivering value to those in the sector, and leveraging finite resources. As NeSI develops its Training Service, the team has encountered some challenges. However, with every challenge comes insight and an opportunity to grow.

This talk focused on several specific issues that NeSI training has encountered and how we have addressed these issues to improve the training service as a whole. Topics discussed include how a small team manages huge training demand, adjusting our outreach efforts for prospective users, and being more intentional about training partnerships.



Communicators assemble! Sharing best practice across eResearch communications & outreach teams

Within Australasia’s eResearch sector, there is a large community of practice for science and technology communications and outreach. Considering the annual Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) approaches of other communities of practice (eg. Research Software Engineers (RSEs), digital skills training, etc.), this session tested the waters of what that could that look like for the eResearch communications community.

Nearly 30 people attended, indicating good interest in the idea overall. A roundtable of introductions took up most of the session, but it was a valuable activity and a key starting point to the objectives behind the idea: to introduce and better connect the members of this community of practice, support comms-focused knowledge-sharing between organisations, and potentially open new doors for collaboration.

A summary notes document will be available soon, and a followup session is likely planned for the eResearch NZ conference in February 2022. If you'd like to stay apprised of next steps and further community development in this space, reach out to Jana Makar, NeSI Communications Manager


Contributions to other Birds-of-a-Feather sessions

NeSI Team members were also part of the organising efforts for other community Birds-of-a-Feather sessions hosted by the Research Software Engineers Association of Australia and New Zealand and the Women in HPC Australasia Chapter. Links to those session descriptions are below, and summary notes / output documents from the BoFs are in the works.


Keep the conversations going

Following on from the discussions had and connections made at eResearch Australasia, we encourage you to reconnect at eResearch NZ, happening online and in Ōtautahi Christchurch from 9-11 February 2022. Registration is poised to open in December. Visit the website for more information or join the mailing list for updates.