Alistair Grant's blog

STEM Ambassadors at EPCC

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 25 Jun 2014 | 10:21

What is a STEM Ambassador?

This is a UK-wide scheme to encourage young people to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. A STEM Ambassador is someone who works in a STEM-related field and has an enthusiasm for talking about and demonstrating their work to young people to inspire them to take up STEM-related subjects. STEM Ambassadors are all volunteers who join the programme to share their knowledge and appreciation of the subjects they work in.

A return to St Peter's school

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 28 May 2014 | 11:55

About a year ago, we visited St Peter's with our original set of outreach activities. Now in a return to the school we brought along our new and updated activities. The school invited us back to talk to their primary 4 and 5 classes this year, so Jason, Eilidh, Iain and myself went along and installed ourselves in their music classroom.

EPCC @ The Museum

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 22 Apr 2014 | 14:20

A visit to the museum is often filled with wonders about the past, other cultures, science and art. For five days in April, a visit to the National Museum of Scotland included an introduction to supercomputers. As part of the University of Edinburgh's programme of family events, EPCC staff and university students were there with a drop-in exhibit: "What Makes Supercomputers Super?". The exhibit had activities which the public, young and old, could interact with and gain insight into how supercomputers support the science being researched at the University of Edinburgh, building on the history displayed by the museum.

EPCC goes doon the water

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 31 Mar 2014 | 10:49

This month, Mario, Toni and I took a trip 'doon the water' to Rothesay Academy to introduce some of the concepts of supercomputing to first and second year pupils.

Rothesay is on the Isle of Bute and during the 19th century it was famous for its hydropathic establishments and treatments. Our team had been invited to visit the school as part of National Science and Engineering Week 2014, and we spent the day showing some of the demonstrations developed by EPCC for explaining the basics of supercomputing and its uses. 

Answering Questions

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 | 09:23

On Monday 2 December, I took part in a panel on Software Engineering for the Professional Software Development course at the University of Glasgow's Computing Science department. Organised by Dr Tim Storer, a lecturer in Software Engineering, the panel was an opportunity for 3rd-year students of the computing science and software engineering programmes to quiz a varied group of software engineers.

EPCC and the library visit

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 21 Oct 2013 | 10:16

The library in Dalkeith was the setting for EPCC 's event at the Midlothian Science Festival, where we hoped to introduce and explain what supercomputers are and why they are needed.

A Day at Our Dynamic Earth

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 5 Oct 2013 | 12:01

Image of Audience Group at ODE

In September, Our Dynamic Earth held a two-day event called 'Meet the Experts' for groups of secondary school pupils. EPCC was invited to attend, with Iain Bethune and myself volunteering to give short talks on what supercomputing is and why it is needed. 

Supercomputing dinosaurs at the BSF

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 | 10:13

What do dinosaurs, prime numbers, four individuals from EPCC and Cray, and the city of Newcastle have in common? Not much until the four descended on Newcastle to take part in the British Science Festival 2013 with demonstrations about virtual dinosaurs and a talk about prime numbers.

Nick explaining how the dinosaur sim works.

After some early morning travel down the east coast of the UK from Edinburgh to Newcastle, the four - Iain (the intrepid prime number man), Nick (keeper of the virtual dinosaurs), Tom (the man from Cray) and myself -  set up a room in the Discovery Museum in quick time. The Learning Room, as it was called, was next to the Museum Archives where, if you looked closely in one of the cabinets, you could see a first-generation iPad.

Digging deeper into digital preservation

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 2 Sep 2013 | 19:20

A few months have gone by on the Pericles project (see my earlier post), more meetings have passed and more are coming up, but in between meetings, we do actually get some work done as well!

Preserving art, records and other items has been a challenge throughout history, not just how to store them but how to help future generations to understand them. Even in the short time digital art and records have been around, this problem has become increasingly apparent in modern technology. It is exacerbated by the rapid cycles that technology follows. Pericles is attempting to define and develop a framework or method to manage how digital data is stored in archives and how to keep the archives relevant and accessible. A small challenge it is not.

Changing technology – thinking about digital preservation

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 7 May 2013 | 13:52

How do we deal with technology change? Ever thought about accessing the stuff you did twenty years ago? What’s that? You are having a hard time getting a floppy disk drive? Maybe the data format is unreadable or the media has been damaged? 8-inch, 5,25-inch, and 3,5-inch floppy disks: Public Domain 7 June 2009: George Chernilevsky

This is a problem that will continue to face us in many fields: how do you ensure that today’s data is still accessible in twenty or even fifty years' time? For a lot of areas, maybe we do not want to bother, it's the here and now that counts.

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