It is an absolute pleasure to be writing the first of many SICSA blog posts! I arrived at the University of Glasgow as a lecturer in 2010, newly appointed as a result of SICSA investment in academic staff throughout Scotland. Almost immediately, I launched myself into a frenzy of SICSA activity – attending research workshops; Chairing the SICSA PhD Conference 2011; taking Raspberry Pi clusters to SICSA DEMOfest; and co-supervising a SICSA PhD student at The University of Edinburgh.
I have vivid memories of a corridor conversation in our narrow, winding building at The University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science; a facility that is ideal for bumping into people and engaging in serendipitous chatter. On this particular occasion I was asked by a very senior professorial colleague “Do you think this SICSA thing actually works?”. I told my colleague “YES!” and related how we had recently put together an EPSRC application (http://anyscale.org/) with another Scottish institution, written a paper and had lots of fun along the way! She was mildly surprised, and said that neither she nor her fellow profs were fully convinced that SICSA would work – in terms of overcoming ancient rivalries and entrenched mistrust between the Scottish universities.
Well, here we are years down the line – SICSA has developed into SICSA2 and so the Scottish Funding Council evidently thought SICSA ‘actually does work’…..and so do we! We are in a new age of trust between Scottish Computer Science departments and we lead the way in research collaboration. My colleague’s fears were misfounded.
I have recently become the SICSA Graduate Academy Director, which means I get to help to shape PhD student interactions within SICSA for at least the next two years. Our flagship annual conference (http://sicsaconf.org) continues to grow year-on-year. Next year it takes place in fabulous and particularly sunny Dundee. We also want to see lots of SICSA PhD research at DEMOfest at the University of Strathclyde on 11th November 2016. And don’t forget that you can apply for many SICSA funding opportunities!!
My immediate priorities for the SICSA Graduate Academy are:
- Finding out the state of the Computer Science PhD community in Scotland via an institutional census – watch this space for the results!
- Raising the profile of Scottish PhDs in Computing Science – and trying to generate publicity for our great research
- Talking with EPSRC (http://www.epsrc.ac.uk) and other parties about future PhD funding opportunities for Scottish Universities
….And of course continuing the great work the SICSA Graduate Academy does in improving the PhD experience for hundreds of SICSA-based students!
Meanwhile, if there’s anything you want us to put on the agenda, please get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org. SICSA exists for you!
Finally, we are recruiting for SICSA PhD Conference organisers for 2017. Please contact us if you want to help to shape the SICSA PhD Conference 2017. This is a great thing to put on your CV and it could be one of the most rewarding things you do next year.
I look forward to meeting lots of you soon at various SICSA events!