The Tech Savvy Astro was originally conceived as a resource to support astronomers transitioning from academic into data science and similar careers in the tech industry. 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 tutorials, from the .Astronomy conferenes, for showcasing novel tools built by astronomers, and for highlighting tech-focussed news relavant to the astronomy research community.
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 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.
writing and managing code & data – GitHub, Bitbucket, SQL tools, cloud platforms
data mining, web scraping, & using APIs – e.g.
data visualisation tools for the web – e.g. Plotly, D3.js, Bokeh,
machine learning – e.g. Python’s scikit-learn & NLTK, IBM Watson, Tensorflow, Pytorch
project management &communication – e.g. Atlassian products such as Confluence and JIRA
tools for pythonic astronomers – e.g. community built tools like APLpy, Glue, mpld3, Arcas
web design and development – e.g. GitHub Pages, HTML5UP! templates, Docker & Digital Ocean
tools built by astronomers, for astronomers
Project builder cards and links to .Astronomy experiments
sharing news & tutorials that professional astronomers might have otherwise missed.
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.
Web Tools for non-coders (Unconference 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