Research Software Engineer – IT Services

Full-time Permanent University of Birmingham in Specialist/Professional Email Job
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Job Description

JOB DESCRIPTION

Position Details

IT Services

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £34,980 to £44,263 with potential progression once in post to £46,974

Grade: 7

Full Time, Permanent

Closing date: 19th August 2024

 

‘Open House’ Drop In Session: We will be holding an ‘open house’ drop in session at the University’s Exchange building at the café, in Centenary Square, Birmingham, between 10am and 5pm on Monday 15th July 2024. If you’re interested in working at the University of Birmingham and perhaps have a few questions, this is an opportunity to meet colleagues in the Recruitment team. It will be a relaxed and informal event – you can drop in at any time.

 

Our offer to you

People are at the heart of what we are and do.

The University of Birmingham is proud to have been a part of the City of Birmingham and the wider region for over 100 years, and we are equally proud to be recognised as a leading global university. We want to attract talented people from across the city and beyond, support them to succeed, and celebrate their success.

We are committed to helping the people who work here to develop through our sector-leading Birmingham Professional programme which provides all professional services staff with development opportunities and the encouragement to reach their full potential. With almost 5,000 professional services jobs in a wide-range of functions in Edgbaston and in our campus in Dubai, there are plenty of opportunities for you to be able to develop your career at the University.

We believe there is no such thing as a typical member of staff and that diversity is a source of strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation, and debate. We warmly welcome people from all backgrounds and are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where diversity is at the heart of who and what we are, and how we work.

Supporting our people to achieve a healthy work/life balance is important both to our employees and to the success of the University and, depending on the role, we offer a variety of flexible working arrangements. We therefore welcome discussions on all forms of flexible working. In addition, you will receive a generous package of benefits including 40 days paid holiday a year, one paid day a year for volunteering, occupational sick pay, and a pension scheme. We also have three high quality subsidised day nurseries.

The University is situated in leafy Edgbaston and there are excellent transport links to our beautiful campus, including main bus routes and a train station on site. On campus we have a state-of-the-art sports centre with pool, shops, places to eat and drink, our own art gallery, museum and botanical gardens.

Find out more about the benefits of working for the University of Birmingham

Background

The Advanced Research Computing team (ARC) delivers a suite of computing services to enable world-class research under the name of the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR). The post holder will contribute to initiatives enabling researchers to fully exploit the compute power of BEAR. The services support research across the entire spectrum of academic endeavour at Birmingham from Music to Medicine, Computer Science to Theology, Physics to English, Economics to Climatology. ARC also operates the multi-million pound EPSRC-funded Baskerville Tier 2 accelerated compute system. Individuals working in ARC need to be resourceful, innovative and attuned to the research process.

Role Summary

This post is established at the University of Birmingham, where the post holder will join a strong and dynamic group of Research Software Engineers with a particular focus on supporting researchers. The Research Software Engineer (RSE) will join a team providing a technical software development and support service to academics from a wide range of disciplines, including those using BEAR’s compute services and those who don’t. This service helps to meet the growing demand for software engineering support and increasing the sustainability of software created for research.

You will join the Research Software Group (RSG) within ARC and will be encouraged and supported in developing your skills, through formal training and mentoring by highly skilled colleagues within this Group. The RSG (established in 2017) consists of a variety of roles, including Research Software Engineers, Research Applications Specialists and Research Data Scientists.

The post holder will collaborate closely with research colleagues from many different academic disciplines and will provide expert knowledge and skills to develop, improve, maintain and support high quality software solutions and access to services, fulfilling the requirements of research projects. The post holder will contribute to developing the knowledge and skills within the research community at all stages of the research software development cycle, e.g. by providing training and coaching sessions as well as promoting the adoption of best practices.

The RSE will have a varied and interesting workload that changes with the requirements that arrive from world-class researchers. The post holder will be joining an existing group of RSEs, and as such is likely to specialise in particular aspects of this job description – depending on their skills, the skills of the rest of the group, and the work available.

The RSE would commonly work on two projects simultaneously (grant-funded or free), each at 45%, with the remaining time being used for other tasks in ARC. When an engagement with a research project finishes, the RSE would be allocated to further projects.

Main Duties

  • Provide advice, support, coaching, and coding services; crucially always with the aim of ownership and responsibility remaining with the research group. Prioritise tasks across multiple engagements to meet agreed objectives, ensuring effective communication to project leads. Manage the expectations of researchers and research groups. Engage with researchers at all development stages and disseminate best practices in the development of sustainable research software.
  • Take responsibility and work collaboratively with research groups from across the University for the definition, documentation, development and satisfactory completion of collaborative software projects: defining requirements; devising solutions; agreeing timescales and priorities as well as identifying the risks to be managed. Each of these engagements will be unique in nature and complexity. They will typically range from requiring a few days to several months of effort.
  • Build and maintain relationships with research communities within the University and beyond, seeking opportunities to contribute to research and identify opportunities for new research projects. Work closely with researchers and contribute to research bids to funding bodies to secure funds for research, defining the scope of work and the associated costs for software engineering support for the grant applications.
  • Contribute to research papers to be published in academic literature and produce case studies.
  • Engage with researchers at all development stages and disseminate best practices in the development and sustainability of research software.
  • Contribute to raising awareness of BEAR and Tier2 services for researchers and the profile of the team. Help build active user communities locally and regionally, by contributing to seminars and networking events, encouraging the adoption of best practice, sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Contribute to the support of computational research at the University, within ARC and the wider research software engineering ecosystem.
  • Provide software engineering input to assist the maintenance of the infrastructure and deliver integrated support and services for local and Tier2 research communities.
  • Deliver training courses, devising content where applicable or, where qualified, delivering externally validated material, e.g. Software Carpentries. Content will vary from introductory to specialised and advanced levels.
  • Liaise and engage with external professional networks within the software engineering sector, such as national RSE networks and the Software Sustainability Institute, to keep informed of the latest developments and sector initiatives.
  • Identify opportunities for service improvement, such as efficiency, reliability and performance of parallel codes and third-party applications, and propose and develop innovative solutions to enrich the user experience, to enhance service delivery, and reduce costs or environmental impacts.
  • Maintain an awareness of technical developments, tools and ideas in research computing and in software engineering, including attending seminars, technical briefings, conferences and technical groups.
  • In addition to University provided training and development, you will undertake sufficient personal and professional development as required, ensuring skills and knowledge are up to date so that the role is performed to the required level.
  • Actively manages equality, diversity and inclusion through monitoring and evaluation and actively challenging unacceptable behaviour.
  • Any other duties commensurate with the grade.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications, Experience

  • Educated to Degree level (or equivalent qualifications) preferably in a subject with a strong software engineering component or relevant technical qualification and considerable relevant experience. Where no equivalent qualification is held, significant practical relevant experience and expertise in a series of more demanding roles will be required demonstrating the conceptual understanding required.
  • Experience successfully developing software in collaboration with other people, ideally in a research environment.
  • Experience of programming and programming languages – including strong expertise in at least one of Python, R, C++ or Fortran.
  • Knowledge of good practice for software development and analysis processes, tools and techniques.
  • Experience with version control in git.
  • Good customer relationship management skills.
  • A self-motivated learner with a track record of continually updating skills – each new project is likely to require learning something new.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Good broad knowledge of C&IT, including latest technology industry trends.
  • Knowledge of Higher Education, Research and its environment.
  • Supporting researchers with complex requirements is desirable.
  • Experience as a researcher is desirable.
  • Experience of one Linux and associated software applications is desirable.
  • Experience with unit testing and continuous integration is desirable.

 

Informal enquiries to Warrick Ball, email: w.h.ball@bham.ac.uk

View our staff values and behaviours here

 

We believe there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ member of University of Birmingham staff and that diversity in its many forms is a strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate at the heart of University life. We are committed to proactively addressing the barriers experienced by some groups in our community and are proud to hold Athena SWAN, Race Equality Charter and Disability Confident accreditations. We have an Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre that focuses on continuously improving the University as a fair and inclusive place to work where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. We are also committed to sustainability, which is a key part of our strategyYou can find out more about our work to create a fairer university for everyone on our website.

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