techsavvyastro.io


2016 – 2018

Independent project

Tech Savvy Astro was originally conceived as a resource to support astronomers transitioning from academic into data science who were keen to learn new tools and develop their skills through creative side projects. The first iteration of the techsavvyastro.io website was inspired by the Hacker Within and .Astronony Day Zero skills training programs. Over time it became a platform for hosting community developed tutorials – mostly from the .Astronomy and ADASS conferences, for showcasing novel tools built by astronomers, and for highlighting tech-focussed news relavant to the astronomy research community.


 

The techsavvyastro.io website

About the Project



Tech Savvy Astro is about changing the way we approach modern day, data–intensive astronomy research. It’s about developing innovative ideas, projects and products that challenge the status quo. It's also about creating a new culture of tech savvy astronomers, equipped with industry standard tech skills to complement scientific computing and domain specific data analysis expertise. Most importantly, it's about letting go of preconceived ideas, thinking creatively, and joining a growing community of research astronomers, instrument scientists, and freelance software developers and consultants who like to think outside the box.

The website focussed on three challenges faced by professional astronomers;

  • The lack of data science training and knowledge about open-source and enterprise solutions outside of the academia.
  • The lack of recognition for blue sky tools development and the lack of a cohesive community to support such endeavours.
  • The increasing need for astronomers to manage and exploit large, complex data sets, and the lack of training to support them.

The Tech Savvy Astro project was developed around the idea that if astronomers could gain valuable industry knowledge and get their hands dirty with common industry tools an techniques, that they would will be better equipped to transition into data science careers in industry, and to manage the deluge of data from the next-generation telescopes and surveys should they decide to stay in academia.

It also embraced the idea that "you can't be what you can't see" (a powerful quote by Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund). While the majority of academic appointments follow a fairly rigid and traditional career path, there are a growing number of astrophysicists who now work at the intersection between astronomy reserach and either software developement or engineering, inter-disciplinary data science, web and app-development, or visual communication. An even smaller number have successfully transitioned back and forth between academia and industry, or sucessfully launched their own data science or software developent consultancies.


Website Design



Tools & Tutorials


  • project management & communication

  • writing and managing code & data

  • data mining, web scraping, & using APIs

  • web design & development

  • data visualisation tools for the web

  • for pythonic astronomeRS

  • machine learning

  • built by astronomers, for astronomers


Project Builder Cards


Project builder cards were double-sided, self-print postcards, created by deconstructing .Astronomy hack day projects. Their purpose was to demonstrate what could be built with a handful of tools. They were made using the Canva graphic design platform.


News & Tutorials


While the international astrophysics community is small compared to other research disciplines there is still a tendency for astronomers to become siloed by research areas and topics; by telescope access and wavelength domain (data type); by northern and southern hemispheres; and by country. The intention of the blog was to provide a curated list of articles that focus on less traditional astrophysics research news; innovative approaches to managing the next generation big-data in astronomy, initiatives inspired by the tech industry; web-based apps and custom built tools developed by individuals and teams; and to highlight tech-focussed education initiatives, in particular the community developed tools and tutorials from the .Astronomy, SciCoder, AstroHackWeek, and ADASS conferences.


Talks & Workshops


Web Tools for non-coders (Un-conference Session)
.Astronomy 9 Conference, SAAO, Cape Town – South Africa

Useful Tools for Research, Data Science & for Transitioning into Tech Careers (BoF Session)
ADACS Data Intensive Astronomy Workshop, Melbourne – AU 

Building a Community of Tech Savvy Astronomers (Colloquium)
Astrophysics Group, University of Melbourne – AU 

Moving From Academia to the Tech Industry (Panel Discussion)
University of Melbourne Women In Physics Camp, Queenscliff – AU

Building a Community of Tech Savvy Astronomers in the Era of Big Data & Data Science
Astronomy Data and Software Systems XXVI conference, Trieste – Italy.

Building a Community of Tech Savvy Astronomers
Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney – AU

November 2017

August 2017

July 2017

April 2017

October 2016

July 2016

 

Social Media & Engagement


The  @techsavvyastro  Twitter feed also includes several lists; ex-astronomers now working in the tech industry, a selection of clever and quirky Twitterbots created by the  .Astronomy  ( @dotastronomy ) community, and astronomers building software applications and tools.

The @techsavvyastro Twitter feed also includes several lists; ex-astronomers now working in the tech industry, a selection of clever and quirky Twitterbots created by the .Astronomy (@dotastronomy) community, and astronomers building software applications and tools.

The  Tech Savvy Astros/Tool Builders  Facebook group provides a forum for discussions around community developed tools for astrophysics research (and scientific research more broadly), useful tools for transitioning into data science and tech, web development and outreach tools, tech skills training, emerging technologies, astronomy start-ups, and freelance work.

The Tech Savvy Astros/Tool Builders Facebook group provides a forum for discussions around community developed tools for astrophysics research (and scientific research more broadly), useful tools for transitioning into data science and tech, web development and outreach tools, tech skills training, emerging technologies, astronomy start-ups, and freelance work.