I sure hope there’s enough to do…

I begin the month-long winter break this weekend. Students and teaching faculty finish about a week later. When classes reconvene in January, we’ll start spending a lot of time on Iceland and its spinoff scientific computing projects.

To lay the groundwork, we’ve spent the last few weeks clearing brush:

  • Updating operating systems and apps on a dozen laptops, handsets, and tablets
  • Syncing accounts with Apple and Google
  • Sitting in on planning/logistics meetings
  • Coordinating with the students who will do most of the actual research and development
  • Producing the list of software improvements we need to make

The last item is the most substantial from the perspective of my colleagues and students in CS. We build a lot of software in-house to collect and visualize data, capture many gigabytes of drone photos, and run datasets through complex workflows in the field.

It takes a lot of work locally to make this succeed on-site. Students have to learn how to both use and develop the software in a short time. Since the entire Iceland team (not just CS students) depends on everything we build, these projects provide real and meaningful stakes.

All of this has come together in the last few weeks in a satisfying way. We’re up to 62 GitLab issues based on our experiences using the software. That’s a good enough list to fill a lot of time in the spring, for both students and faculty.

We’ll hit the ground running in January, when the clock officially begins ticking.