Research Software Assistant Engineer

Durham, United Kingdom
£27,116 - £33,309 per annum
Wednesday, 1 September 2021
End of advertisement period
Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Advanced Research Computing

Grade 6: - £27,116 - £33,309 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 3 years (in the first instance)
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 29-Sep-2021, 6:59:00 AM

The Department and role purpose

The Directorate of Advanced Research Computing (ARC) provides a focal point for a broad computational capability that underpins and helps define the nature of research and innovation that can be undertaken with the institution.

ARC’s mission is to deliver a coherent strategy for the computational support of for research: enabling research and innovation to be at the forefront of computational practice; enabling academic leadership through the adoption and evolution of leading technology; fostering associated expertise; and enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations. Leading-edge platforms including High Performance Computing, computational and cutting-edge data analytics methods, and growth and retention of vital capacity in research software engineering and technical R&D are at the core of this endeavour.

As a part of a team of Research Software Engineers you will be working as an integral part of the ARC operation providing a critical role for delivery of this significant, strategic University-wide initiative, requiring a collaborative ‘member of research team’ approach, commensurate with the University’s global research aspirations. Since 2019 the team has grown significantly and has built upon the success of recent funding awards including EPSRC Tier-2, ExCALIBUR, STFC IRIS. In addition the post will involve a wide range of projects across the University with particular use of Machine Learning,  Web applications and exploiting the capabilities of the University’s  High Performance Computing facilities particularly in data-intensive applications.

This is a development role within ARC which may be attractive to less-experienced candidates who wish to pursue a career in Research Software Engineering. The successful candidate will, in addition to excellent software skills, have the ability and potential to develop technical, management and leadership attributes and skills commensurate with a grade 7 RSE position. Supported by ARC RSE colleagues the post-holder will undertake an agreed development programme taking into account individual needs, providing the additional training and experience that would be required at the higher grade-role. The plan will be regularly reviewed and form the basis of the criteria to move to a Grade 7 position. It is anticipated that the development process may take up to two years to complete, depending on the candidate. However it may be extended if the department considers it necessary. The job description for the Grade 7 post is available here.

If the post-holder is unable to meet the full requirements of the Grade 7 post at the end of the development process, subject to performance, they may be retained in the Grade 6 post.

The post-holder is expected to develop deep technical and appropriate domain knowledge to ensure ARC provides appropriate research software development expertise, that will enable strong collegiate relationships with researchers at all levels across the organisation to be formed. The post holder will provide specialist knowledge to colleagues within the research community, consultation and ensure effective knowledge transfer both across the institution and externally and will be encouraged to share their current state of practice with the national RSE community as their experience in the role develops.

The post holder will be encouraged to develop their own areas of specialism, in line with the overall objectives and activities of ARC, and have the opportunity to lead areas of activity others as their experience grows.

As a support unit that spans all Faculties across the University, we encourage applications from a diverse range of backgrounds and domains. ARC encourages flexible working and welcomes applications from candidates wanting to be part time or part of a job share arrangement.

Core responsibilities:

  • Practitioner in Research Software Engineering, planning and co-ordinating of projects and work streams with inter-related activities.
  • Plan and organise own workload with or without involvement with project work streams.
  • Provide specialist support with problem solving and query handling.
  • Reactive and proactive service provision with others to deliver an excellent stakeholder experience.
  • Relationship building, network participation internally and externally to build and update knowledge and skills.
  • Engage with external peers and specialists to exchange knowledge and information.
  • Supervises  users and stakeholders undertaking activities, events, project work and exhibitions.
  • Interpret, curate, design and present  information, data and resources.
  • Implement and monitor protocols, procedures, processes and regulations.
  • Monitor and report incidents.
  • Carry out more in-depth investigations, searches and research information and data to identify trends and patterns.
  • Take responsibility for day to day decision making within own area of responsibility for operational aspects of service delivery, translating external requirements into practical application and advice.
  • Implement and monitor recognised procedures to ensure compliance and meet University values of inclusion, diversity and participation.
  • Contribute to business meetings, working groups and committees to help shape service delivery and stakeholder expectations.
  • Support the capture of business requirements from users and work with colleagues to translate these into recommendations for future service provision.

Role responsibilities:

  • Provide high-level Research Software Engineering guidance and advice to academic stakeholders to support teaching, research and learning activities within a defined area.
  • Assimilate research context and understand the computational and data analytics algorithms, requirements and interfaces involved in a research programming project.
  • Collect and respond to stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements to inform the planning of ARC.
  • Provide technical guidance and advice to solve problems and help shape the delivery of teaching, learning and research outcomes.
  • Carry out a range of activities that includes the commissioning, construction and set-up of test and experimental scenarios and practical sessions.
  • Undertake development work to improve efficiency and effectiveness of software on University and other computing platforms
  • Contribute to promotional events and presentations at conferences.
  • Supervise key stakeholders where necessary.
  • Deliver projects that demonstrate a high-standard of accuracy, complexity, originality and excellence.
  • Provide support to team members to share technical knowledge and expertise.
  • Liaise and network with specialist professionals to exchange knowledge and ideas internally and externally to the organisation.
  • Take responsibility for carrying out more specialist risk assessments and incident resolution.
  • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends as part of teaching and research activities.
  • Any other reasonable duties

Specific role requirements

  • Willingness to work out of the office, to travel nationally and internationally.
  • Willingness to work outside of normal office hours, as appropriate.

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria

  • Good oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to learn advanced  IT skills, commensurate with the role.
  • Degree in a relevant area (or equivalent experience).
  • Evidence of continuing professional development.
  • Demonstrate the ability to solve problems and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions.
  • Demonstrate the potential to rapidly assimilate the research context and understanding the computational and data analytics algorithms, requirements and interfaces involved in research programming projects.
  • Knowledge of software development best practice including issue tracking, testing, documentation, version control, continuous integration, software re-use and deployment. 
  • Experience of relationship building and the potential to turn opportunities into long-term knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Desirable Criteria

  • Relevant industry and professional recognition and certification of achievement of skills and knowledge.
  • Awareness of relevant issues to research software engineering within the higher education context
  • Experience of working in a team.
  • Demonstrable ability to provide advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues.
  • Professional knowledge and expertise in one or more area of technical specialism, and the application of skills to create, build, construct and realise new and innovative Software
  • Experience of research project working within an educational, commercial or industrial environment.

Realising Your Potential Approach

Durham University uses a “Realising Your Potential Approach” (RYPA) to both assessing candidates for interview and staff development after appointment. RYPA clarifies the behaviours expected to be demonstrated by all staff across Professional Services in the University regardless of their role. Along with the core responsibilities, role responsibilities and the person specification, the Realising Your Potential Approach behavioural indicators are used to inform the recruitment and selection process. Further information on the Realising Your Potential Approach is available here.

Please note that this is optional but if you want to use RYPA to support your application please refer to the following criteria:

  • WORKING TOGETHER - Working co-operatively with others in order to achieve objectives. Applying a wide range of interpersonal skills.
  • FINDING SOLUTIONS - Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically and with creativity to analyse problems and develop innovative and workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.
  • EMBRACING CHANGE - Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, demands and changing roles. Seeing change as an opportunity and being receptive to new ideas.
  • ACHIEVING RESULTS - Planning and organising workloads to ensure that deadlines are met within resource constraints. Consistently meeting objectives and success criteria.

Recruiting to this post 

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above (you may also also wish to refer to the optional ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’ section).  In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at the interview stage

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

  1. A CV;
  2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  3. The person specification (mandatory).

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Contact details

For further information please contact:

Dr Alan Real, Director ARC alan.n.real@durham.ac.uk

Ed Ruck-Keene, Business Development and RSE Manager e.a.ruck-keene@durham.ac.uk

Rebecca Appleby, ARC Administrator rebecca.appleby@durham.ac.uk

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.