Reflections from the Inaugural Science Gateways Bootcamp [now Gateway Focus Week] in April 2017
Note: We renamed Science Gateways Bootcamp to Gateway Focus Week in June 2019 to reflect the increasing collaborative nature of the workshop.
By Nayiri Mullinix
Eleven teams were selected to participate in the inaugural Science Gateways Bootcamp, which took place in Indianapolis, IN. April 24-28, 2017. It was an intense week of learning and working with very productive outcomes. The topics covered in this intensive Bootcamp included everything from sustainability to market development, understanding target audiences and key stakeholders to cybersecurity, user-centered design to marketing, and more.
All modules of the Bootcamp are designed with science gateway developers in mind, and with the intention of inspiring teams to think deeply about where they are, where they want to be, and how they can accomplish their goals. Through presentations, hands-on activities, and working within and across teams, participants were able to articulate the value of their work and, in the process, create a strong development, operations, and sustainability plan.
A participant shares her napkin drawing
Here are some insights about the Bootcamp experience from some of the participants:
"We came in with some general notions of what we needed to do to scale and sustain our project, but we left with a much more concrete picture of the components we will need to work on and what our next steps should be. The Bootcamp really moved us forward in thinking about success and sustainability of our project."
"The Science Gateways Bootcamp is useful to people involved at any stage of their science gateway project, and in any role. Their experts have you consider all aspects of sustainability, from understanding your unique value proposition and audience, through to best practices and standards in software development. They cultivate a lively, active, hands-on environment. A great experience overall."
"The SGCI Bootcamp has fundamentally altered, in a constructive way, my view toward developing and implementing the projects on which I work. The work during the week helped me to generate a new approach to the gateway on which I'm working that has much greater potential to be successful, and I intend to apply the ideas and concepts from the Bootcamp to all project phases, from idea to implementation."
Domain Scientist for Environmental Data Science & Systems, RENCI Data Observatory
Risk Analytics Discovery Environment (RADE) gateway
"The Bootcamp was intense, but the staff and other participants made it fun as well. I look forward to staying in touch and continuing to use this community as a sounding board for ideas and a source of support and inspiration as our project progresses."
Mike Zentner, SGCI Incubator and workshop lead, offered his thoughts on the Bootcamp:
"Sustainability is a community problem, not an individual problem. By bringing people who are creating gateways together, we had hoped to foster the beginnings of such a community. We thought hard about requesting people for a full five days, but felt it was important if we were to have a chance of seeding inter-project relationships. Every day was full of lectures and group exercises with limited breaks. In spite of this, the room was always loud and full of energy during the group exercises. In the end, the evaluations reflected that a strong majority of attendees met people and formed relationships that they would value going forward, liked the five-day format, and would recommend the Bootcamp to a colleague. This inaugural cohort made this one of the best experiences I’ve had in academia."
Sandra Gesing, workshop organizer and instructor, had this to say about the experience:
"Even though we have put a lot of thought into the program, the first event is a crucial test to find out if we had good ideas for the Bootcamp. The feedback of the group was great for us and we were thrilled and also relieved that the evaluation showed that the participants found it very beneficial and entertaining with some room for improvement. The group was so responsive and lively and did all the exercises with enthusiasm —even those that encouraged participants to step out of their comfort zones and think a bit out of the box."
Sandra Gesing presenting on Sustainability via On-Campus Groups
As the first cohort of Bootcamp participants demonstrated, this was a beneficial week with many positive outcomes. The Bootcamp may have wrapped up a month ago, but the group remains in touch in various ways including a Slack channel and special edition webinars we’re offering so they can continue to learn about all the aspects of successful science gateway development that we were not able to cover in the week-long Bootcamp.
SGCI is looking forward to our next Bootcamp, which will be offered October 2-6, 2017.
To learn more about upcoming sessions or to apply, please visit https://sciencegateways.org/bootcamp, or check out the short video below.