Assistant (HPC) Manager

Durham, United Kingdom
 £26,715 to £32,817
26 Nov 2020
End of advertisement period
04 Jan 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Physics

Grade 6: - £26,715 to £32,817 Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 month
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date : 04-Jan-2021, 7:59:00 AM 

The Department and role purpose   

Please Note: if the successful candidate would prefer a part time version of this role, this will be considered.

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the best UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.  Ranked in the top 10 in REF2014 in terms of grade point average, 96% of Durham Physics research was considered to be of internationally excellent quality or world leading. 

The Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) within the Department of Physics performs world-leading research with a high international reputation, and is one of the largest groups in Europe dedicated to theoretical cosmology.  The ICC operates and maintains the DiRAC Memory Intensive service (COSMA) on behalf of the DiRAC High Performance Computing (HPC) Facility. This service constitutes the largest academic system in the North of England and is designed to support scientific workflows which require large RAM volumes for their delivery. A prime example of such workflows is cosmological simulation of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present day.  The Memory Intensive service is a heterogeneous integrated HPC system with a combined total of about 25000 cores, 10PB of storage and more than 220TB RAM. 

The DiRAC HPC facility (www.dirac.ac.uk), funded by STFC, is the primary provider of HPC resources for the STFC theory communities in cosmology, astrophysics, particles physics and nuclear physics. It is a national facility and recently received £20m in funding from the UKRI World Class Laboratories fund to support a major upgrade of all services, including the Memory Intensive service at Durham.

This role will be engaged with the continued operation of the DiRAC Memory Intensive service, both routine maintenance procedures and also research and development projects leading to new capabilities and facilities for both users and support staff. The applicant will work with other support staff and with the other DiRAC technical support teams to deliver an effective HPC service for users, including responding to user queries. The applicant will be a member of the ICC Staff, and their primary role is to support the scientific research of the  users of the DiRAC Memory Intensive service. There will be opportunities for training to support the career development of the successful applicant, both within Durham and in collaboration with other DiRAC and/or industry partners.

  Core responsibilities: 

  • Experienced service practitioner, 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.
  • Specialist support with problem solving and query handling.
  • Reactive and proactive service provision with others to deliver an excellent stakeholder experience,  working with the DiRAC Memory Intensive service support team to aid proactive provision of a reliable HPC service tailored to the needs of researchers.
  • 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, including attendance of conferences and workshops.
  • Supervises service users and stakeholders undertaking activities, events, project work and exhibitions.
  • Interpret, curate, design and present artefacts, information, data, equipment and resources, including using information produced by the Memory Intensive service (COSMA) to aid efficient service delivery.
  • Implement and monitor protocols, procedures, processes and regulations including software projects such as (but not limited to) web design (back end and front end) and integration, database management and creation
  • Monitor and report incidents, following health and safety instructions and legislation while working in the data centre.
  • Carry out more in-depth investigations, searches and research information and data to identify trends and patterns related to the Memory Intensive service (COSMA), including monitoring of the HPC service, and the reporting of this.
  • 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.
  • Accountable for managing/maintaining financial and budget records and reconciling consumable expenditure queries.
  • Involved in the purchase and return of goods and services, including meeting suppliers to aid purchasing and design decisions and build networks.
  • Support the capture of business and research requirements from users and work with colleagues to translate these into recommendations for future service provision.

  Role responsibilities:

  • Provide high-level technical guidance and advice to DiRAC users and support staff, to support the teaching, research and learning activities carried out using the Memory Intensive Service.
  • Responsible for organising and maintaining the Memory Intensive service (COSMA), including technical and experimental facilities, software, teaching, learning and research environments.
  • Provide technical guidance and advice to solve problems and help shape the delivery of Memory Intensive service provision including teaching, learning and research outcomes.
  • Carry out a range of activities that includes the commissioning, construction and set-up of Memory Intensive service hardware.
  • Construct, test, repair and calibrate tools, resources, equipment, components and instrumentation, including software assets to improve the usability of the Memory Intensive service.
  • Set-up, demonstrate, instruct and supervise the use and operation of specialist pieces of hardware and software.
  • Supervise key stakeholders where necessary.
  • Deliver projects that demonstrate a high-standard of 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 ICC.
  • Be an expert user with a range of software and hardware tools and equipment, either physical, virtual or digital.
  • Take responsibility for carrying out more specialist risk assessments and specialist incident resolution.
  • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends as part of teaching and research activities.
  • Design and implement websites providing and integrating services for users and support staff, in consultation with DiRAC management.
  • Database implementation, management and monitoring.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

  Specific role requirements 

Applicants must demonstrate the ability to fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University.  The University provides a working, research and teaching environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.  Candidates will be expected to demonstrate these key principles as part of the assessment process.

Essential criteria:

  1. Experience with a Unix-based environment (e.g. Linux, Mac OSX), including the command line
  2. Experience working as part of a team
  3. Experience working in a support, research or development environment
  4. Ability to self-manage a complex workload and prioritise effectively
  5. Ability to network and develop professional relationships within and outside the ICC
  6. Ability to understand the environmental infrastructure supporting HPC
  7. Physical ability to access and manipulate computer and data centre hardware
  8. A good honours degree in a STEM subject
  9. Fluent in one or more scripting languages (e.g. Python, Bash, etc)
  10. Resident, or intention to reside within 30 minutes of the Physics department

Desirable criteria:

  1. Experience with user support
  2. Experience writing documentation and support manuals
  3. Experience working with HPC including computing, storage and networking
  4. Up to date knowledge of how to secure a system against security attacks
  5. Experience in working to deadlines and dealing with unexpected issues
  6. Experience with one or more web development frameworks
  7. Experience with virtualisation and containers
  8. Experience with Python
  9. Experience leading successful implementation of sub-projects
  10. Experience with data interpretation and information processing
  11. Experience engaging with suppliers
  12. Experience with server maintenance and ability to safely manipulate specialist computing hardware
  13. Experience with long-term strategic planning
  14. Experience with databases

Realising Your Potential Approach

Respecting others - Acting fairly and respectfully towards others in both verbal and non-verbal communication

Working together - Using understanding of other peopleʼs perspectives to help reach agreement

Achieving results - Demonstrate honesty and integrity by sharing the credit with others

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 (including those listed in the section ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’). 

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 interview stage.

How to apply

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.

For informal enquiries please contact Alastair Basden, a.g.basden@durham.ac.uk

All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

What you are required to submit

  1. A CV;
  2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  3. The person specification and Realising Your Potential Approach criteria. 

Please copy and paste the grids from this job description into a separate Microsoft Word document, complete the evidence columns and submit this alongside your other application material.

NOTE Any criteria marked with an asterisk* are key requirements for the role, and therefore may receive additional weighting when applications are scored during shortlisting.  Please ensure you give detailed examples of how you meet these criteria. 

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

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.