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Monday, July 19 • 12:00pm - 3:00pm
WORKSHOP: What Does it Mean to be a Campus Champion?

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The importance of research computing and data infrastructure for scientific discovery and scholarly achievement has grown as research questions become more complicated and datasets get larger. Many higher education institutions have built infrastructure utilized by researchers and supported by local research computing staff. Some of these research computing groups are large, with several infrastructure and support staff, while others may be supported by only one or two staff members. For both of these groups, the Campus Champions program has provided an opportunity for knowledge exchange, professional development, and growth (Brazil 2019). Over the past twelve years, the Campus Champions program has grown to nearly 720 Champions at over 300 research institutions. A significant number of Champions attend the PEARC conference; in 2020, over 23% of PEARC attendees were Champions.

With on average a net gain of 40 new Champions per year, a cohesive and all-encompassing onboarding program must be in place to ensure that the Champions get exposure to information and resources to assist members at their institutions as well as their peers in the community. For several years, an informal onboarding process has served as a basic introduction, with members of the community relying on the web or their colleagues to determine where appropriate resources and information might be located. A more extensive process that includes mentoring and exposure to resources is desired.

Given the number of Campus Champions who attend PEARC, and its vision to foster “the creation of a dynamic and connected community of advanced research computing professionals who promote leading practices and the frontiers of research, scholarship, teaching, and industry application” [PEARC 2019], hosting a workshop dedicated to the onboarding of Campus Champions would have maximum impact.

At PEARC 2020, this workshop was hosted for the first time (also entitled, “What Does It Mean to be a Campus Champion?”), with approximately 60 participants remaining engaged throughout the day. Anecdotally, we received a lot of positive feedback about this workshop from the participants. While the targeted audience was new or recent Campus Champions, more experienced Champions as well as those who were not Champions benefitted from the workshop. The more experienced Champions learned about changes in the program or about resources of which they were not aware, while people who were not Champions were either introduced to the community or learned practices to best support researchers at their institutions (if they support infrastructure) or to best utilize infrastructure (if they do not).

Monday July 19, 2021 12:00pm - 3:00pm PDT
Pathable Platform