Building a community of tech savvy astronomers  [slides]

David Caro building, Level 7 conference room

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  • Dr. Arna Karick
    Dr. Arna Karick, Consultant
    Freelance Astronomy & Scientific Computing Consultant

    Email: arnakarick[at]gmail.com

Abstract

The rise of data science in the technology industry and its prevalence in academia is creating a new generation of tech savvy astronomers, eager to explore new approaches and embrace new techniques and tools and to manipulate, explore, analyse, and interpret complex datasets.

Through tech-focussed astronomy conferences, researchers now have a broader range of research, programming and software development skills in their arsenal than traditionally needed for everyday astronomy research – a l number of astronomers have even gone on to create start-ups or work as data and software consultants on the side. Conversely, a highly skilled, network of tech-savvy astronomers, brings enormous benefits to data-intensive astronomy research, for example better-handing of SKA, LSST and JWST data processing and products, data analysis and web–based tools to maximise early science discoveries and societal impact.

The ADASS, Python in Astronomy; .Astronomy (“dot astro”); Astro Hack Week; AAS, NAM and SPIE Hack Days, SciCoder and ANITA workshops bring together a diverse community of astronomers, instrument scientists, software developers, data archivists, wranglers, and educators. They provide a forum for discussing the latest tech tools, sharing skills and increasing digital literacy, promoting best practises in scientific computing, and the opportunity for astronomers to create innovative research and outreach tools in a collaborative environment. I will show how momentum is slowly building in this space; from bridging the gap between research astronomers, instrument scientists, and software developers; to increasing engagement (and in some cases collaboration) with the tech industry, enhancing everyday astronomy research projects, and providing early and mid–career researchers with the critical tech and data science skills needed for careers in other sectors.

The Tech Savvy Astronomer (techsavvyastronomer.io) website was created in response to the .Astronomy (“dotastro”) and Astro Hack Week conferences, and the growing need for community resources. Following the talk there will be an optional 2 hour workshop to introduce you to tools that could help your research or kickstart a new tech project. Please bring your laptop, enthusiasm and ideas.