Alys Brett manages an RSE group that has effectively been around for over 30 years. Brett’s team at the UK Atomic Energy Authority works principally on the European Commission’s Joint European Torus (JET) fusion experiment that has been run by the authority since 1983. “I can’t really claim to have made the case for setting up a new group,” Brett says, “but I when I saw what universities were doing with RSE groups it crystallised what I was thinking about our role for the future.” The in-house programming team has had many names over the years, “but I identified that it was fundamentally the same skills and activities as these RSE roles,” she says.
Brett’s team provides a specific set of software tools for scientists and engineers as well as programming help, but she is looking to expand to offer more shorter-term collaborative projects with other groups. “We get asked to do this sort of work a lot, and we have limited capacity. Our people have permanent software that they’re responsible for and that takes up most of their time, so they can only help out on an ad hoc basis,” Brett says.
“I’m making a case for a couple of extra roles so that we can take on these projects. I’m going round to people who sometimes ask for help, and saying, ‘if there was this resource, what would you have in the pipeline?’”. “Research software is fundamental to many aspects of UKAEA’s goals and support for doing that well needs to be built in as we diversify and grow,” she says.
Pointing to the work being done in universities is also helpful.“To be able to say that there’s this whole movement going on externally, that universities are currently setting these teams up and we have the same kind of needs – that’s really useful,” Brett says.