Supporting e-Infrastructure Uptake through Community Champions for Research (SeIUCCR)

Lead Research Organisation: STFC - Laboratories
Department Name: Scientific Computing Department


We propose a network which will enable advocates within the engineering and physical sciences research areas - Community Champions - to be given the necessary support and information conduits to allow them to be the trusted voice in their community.

Community Champions will bring together existing orthogonal complimentary networks, supplemented with key advocates from the research community, to deliver a larger, more effective single network presenting a common face of knowledge. Community Champions will quickly and effectively disseminate opportunities for the use of e-Infrastructure that are relevant and essential, overcoming traditional barriers to enable high impact science.

Many UK researchers now benefit from the adoption of e-tools, methods and infrastructures which enable them to access and effectively utilise the growing number of computational and data resources available to them. But there are still many barriers to the adoption of these technologies by the mainstream majority. This remains a significant issue if the investment in e-Infrastructure for UK researchers is to be properly realised.

The proposed consortium of the National Grid Service (NGS) and the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) has extensive experience of capturing, analysing and addressing the requirements of users, developers and providers of e-Infrastructure and the related software and tools. Importantly, we have experience in running some of the most significant networks of advocates for each of these three categories: the NGS Collaboration Board, OMII-UK and SSI PALS, NGS Campus Champions and UK ETF (Engineering Task Force).

What we aim to do is link these groups together by taking the current network of SSI PALs (discipline-based researchers), the NGS Campus Champions (institutionally-focused super-users) and supplement this with additional advocates in key areas of engineering and physical sciences.

One single multi-disciplinary network provides improvements in support for the researcher but also improvements in support for the shared and collaborative research that underpins high impact science.

Planned Impact

Academic impact
This network will ensure that the best practices from early adopter research communities are able to be spread across the research spectrum. Community Champions, who through their standing within the research community, will be given significant weight to their own experiences in the utilisation of e-Infrastructure to advocate the benefits and impacts of e-infrastructures.

Economic and societal impacts
Through the increasing use of shared facilities we will be producing a significant set of highly trained researchers who are able to quickly and easily show the benefits of utilising computational and e-facilities through any number of different areas. Through the increasing need to share facilities opportunities will arise for outside providers to enter the marketplace, thereby giving business opportunities to current service providers from either within the sector or outside. This will improve the efficiency of the services provided as competition for provision is introduced.

Through the involvement of the SSI we will link into a rapidly evolving portfolio of community developed software tools and services. These have been developed with long term durability in mind, including overall quality that previously was lacking. With the increase in the knowledge industries these tool and services will be valuable outside the academic sphere and with this there are various economic models that can be used to extract benefits.


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Description Champions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Champions were funded to disseminate their knowledge to increase engagement with potential users of e-infrastructure (data intensive science, modelling, simulation etc). Champions attended international discipline-specific conferences to talk about the benefits of using e-infrastructure. They also spoke widely within their universities, at national events and acted as a point of contact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2013,2015
Description E-infrastructure workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshops were help to promote the uptake of einfrastructure. These included joint workshops with XSEDE project in the USA who ran similar activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013
Description Summer school in e-infrastruture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Summer school lasting 4 days, repeated for three years, to enable early career researchers (primarily post docs, a few early RAs) to know about the different e-infrastructure options available to them and train them in their basic use. Covered HPC, cloud, high throughput, data management. Each course included around 10-12 external tutors from the UKs facilities as well as industry.

Each event was oversubscribed 10 x and students had to write a case for being accepted onto the course.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013