Technical Manager for High Performance Computing

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £34,804 per annum
12 Jul 2021
End of advertisement period
07 Aug 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Physics

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £34,804 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 12 month
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 07-Aug-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Durham University
Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department and role purpose

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 70000 cores, 15PB of storage and more than 580TB 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 liaise with DiRAC researchers in cosmology and other areas to understand their codes and develop expertise in the efficient running of these codes on HPC facilities, including some code development to optimise use with new hardware. The applicant will also 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:

  • Recognised professional practitioner and service specialist.
  • Implement changes to the design and development of service processes, techniques and deliverables for one or more service strands or project streams.
  • Provide specialist expertise and support with complexity of data and information sources, interpretation and analysis.
  • Contribute to development of operational service activities to ensure excellence in the stakeholder experience.
  • Collect and analyse stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements and the design and planning of services.
  • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to engage and influence future services and the University reputation.
  • Identify and design activities to meet learning objectives and outcomes.
  • Deliver training, teaching and/or development delivery for stakeholders.
  • Maintain an awareness of current policy for University business goals such as widening participation and access, and provision of advice using specialist knowledge.
  • Contribute to and lead business meetings, working groups and sub-committees at departmental and operational service levels.
  • Responsible for managing small budgets for consumables and some capital items, keeping records and processing invoices.

Role responsibilities:

  • Provide day-to-day management for the delivery of a high-quality technical and/or experimental facility/platform and service to ensure teaching, learning, research and knowledge exchange outputs.
  • Collaborate with internal and external academics, industry and technical specialists to support the delivery of teaching, learning and research projects, contributing to the generation of external income.
  • Take responsibility for the design, set-up, maintenance and integrity of teaching, research and learning facilities, technology and resources within a specialist area, namely HPC.
  • Provide specialist technical problem-solving advice to inform activity and project planning, continuous improvement and service development.
  • Provide guidance and advice on University health and safety and compliance issues in specialist area.
  • Apply maintenance schedules to ensure the smooth, safe and efficient use of technology, facilities and services to teaching, research and learning activities.
  • Supervise service users during practical and test teaching, learning and research work activities, projects, and self-directed sessions.
  • Provide support to ensure the delivery of undergraduate and post graduate teaching and learning activities, and income generation where appropriate.
  • Develop, modify and optimise protocols and methodologies.
  • Contribute to the planning, design and delivery of research outputs and prepare innovative teaching/research proposals.
  • Contribute to promotional events and presentations at conferences.
  • Liaise with internal and external agencies, local authorities, industries and visitors where appropriate.
  • Design, build and maintain complex, specialist teaching and research apparatus, equipment, instruments, systems and appliances.
  • Take responsibility for monitoring and updating risk assessments and safety procedures, providing guidance to others where necessary.
  • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends as part of teaching, learning and research activities.
  • Provide advice on digital tools and infrastructure to ensure an appropriate pedagogical approach to developing world class teaching. 
  • Any other reasonable duties

How to Apply
We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

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. 

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 workforce including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV
  • A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the essential and desirable criteria set out below; this would be best in bullet point or tabular form

For further information please contact Alastair Basden, a.g.basden@durham.ac.uk, 0191 334 2229

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. Knowledge of C and/or Fortran, or the willingness to learn
  11. Demonstrated problem-solving skills as required within a HPC environment
  12. Resident, or intention to reside within 30 minutes of the Physics department

Desirable criteria (for which candidates should provide evidence of some, if not all criteria) are:

  1. Experience with end-user engagement and 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
  15. Experience with data visualisation

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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