Many universities (and national labs) have people in staff positions who are focused primarily on software development rather than leading research. They go by different names, but Research Software Engineers (RSEs) is gaining acceptance in many circles.
One question that I think has to be answered for URSSI is what is their relationship with the RSE community. I can imagine several possibilities:
- URSSI employs RSEs or in some way provides such services to the community.
- URSSI works to promote and support the establishment of RSE capabilities at universities around the US. Development “evidence banks” to help make the case, to understaind different funding and organizational models, etc. Advice on how to talk to university administrators (and who) about this, etc.
I don’t think these have to be mutually exclusive, but there are some tensions here. Some universities already have RSE teams, others don’t. If URSSI provides RSE services, how are requests prioritized? Do projects at institutions without local RSEs get priority? What if the administrators there have repeatedly refused to establish their own (after all, URSSI is offering these services for “free”)? Can URSSI partner with existing RSE capabilities to provide broader coverage? How does that interact with funding models that RSE teams are currently using?
How much can URSSI afford to invest in the RSE community, and how can it get the biggest bang for that investment?