Research software developers meet on the topic of research software engineering

As part of an internal KIT project to establish Research Software Engineering (RSE) at KIT, people interested in RSE meet for the first RSE workshop. More than 60 people participated in the afternoon of May 9, 2023.

The participants of the first workshop Research Software Engineering at KIT (Photo: Heidi Seibold)

Software has become a key component of scientific work, and there is hardly a research discipline today in which software does not have an important role. Therefore, research software must meet the same stringent requirements that researchers place on their data, samples, equipment and infrastructures. Software, like any other infrastructure, must be continuously developed, maintained and supported, sometimes for decades. Successful and sustainable software projects often rely on strong, thriving communities and always require long-term funding.

Other countries in Europe are already a step ahead of the German science system in this regard. The Netherlands eScience Centre already demanded in its strategy paper in 2019: "Research software must be treated on an equal footing with research data and publications at the policy level and in practice" [1]. The UK Software Sustainability Institute states simply: "Better Software, Better Research" [2].

Within the scope of the field of action "Digitization" as part of the KIT umbrella strategy "KIT 2025", an internal flagship project on research software and research software engineering was therefore initiated by the KIT Presidium, which started at the end of 2022. Under the leadership of the SCC and participation from the Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics (IAI) and the service units Legal Affairs (RECHT) and Innovation and Relations Management (IRM), various work packages were defined. One of them addresses the needs of the research software community as well as the establishment of a research software community at KIT. In order to promote the establishment of such a community, more than 60 people from KIT - across many scientific disciplines - participated in the first workshop on Research Software Engineering at KIT on May 9, 2023, in the Senate Hall at South Campus and intensively exchanged ideas.

The workshop was professionally organized by Heidi Seibold (heidiseibold.com/, twitter.com/HeidiBaya) and moderated. After short introductory presentations, participants discussed and worked on different questions such as "Which IT services for RSE would you like to use?" or "What do you expect to get from an RSE@KIT community?" to "What can you contribute to an RSE@KIT community?". The answers to these questions were collected collaboratively in a group brainstorming session on pinboards, weighted together by all participants and finally presented. The program was concluded by eight so-called lightning talks from among the participants, which provided interesting and exciting insights into the development of research software engineering at KIT and beyond. The participants had the opportunity to discuss these and other topics of the workshop in detail during a pleasant conclusion of the event.

Parallel to the workshop, a new KIT-open mailing list for Research Software Engineering (RSE) at KIT named rse-announce∂lists.kit.edu was established, in which interested KIT members are welcome to subscribe.


Prof. Dr. Achim Streit