Understanding the CaRCC Facings

One of the biggest challenges we face as an organization supporting the research computing and data (RCD) profession is defining what it means to be an RCD professional. Although it’s clear our profession is growing and very much in-demand, the lines between RCD and other types of jobs are often blurred, and our professional titles rarely reflect the breadth of what we do. Supporting the needs of researchers is distinct and often very different from providing enterprise technology services to a general user population (even though many of us do both and overlap certainly exists). The Campus Research Computing Consortium (CaRCC) focuses on the challenges and opportunities unique to providing computational, data, and other related services to researchers.

Am I an RCD professional? 

Most of us would agree that the people who manage university supercomputers are RCD professionals, but am I an RCD professional if I help researchers navigate data and my title is Librarian or Data Scientist? Am I an RCD professional if I’m a programmer who develops software that supports a research project? Am I an RCD professional if I’m not involved in hands-on technical work but do outreach and education to help researchers find and use technology and data resources? 

If you are supporting researchers in any way through systems, software, data, security, networking, data center operations, or education and consulting, yes –you are an RCD professional!

Okay, so I’m an RCD professional. How do I find “my people” within this broad and diverse profession? 

We segment the RCD profession into five (non-mutually exclusive) focus areas that we call “Facings” – as in “this is what/whom I’m facing much of the time.” Most of us do things related to more than one of the Facings. 

What or whom are you facing?

Use these descriptions to help you find your own RCD peer groups or to better understand the Facings

Researcher-Facing RCD Professionals – We work directly with researchers in areas such as outreach, education, training, consulting, facilitation, liaising, etc.

Systems-Facing RCD Professionals – We work with systems – including systems administration, planning, engineering, networking, optimization, systems and network security, instruments and sensors, middleware, and the like. 

Data-Facing RCD Professionals – We are responsible for data discovery, curation, management, publishing/sharing, data science, data security, and data-related functions.

Software-Facing RCD Professionals – We are involved in software development, engineering portability, installation, optimization, support, and related activities.

Strategy and Policy-Facing RCD Professionals – We help set organizational policies, develop programs and personnel management strategies, lead service evaluations, and work in areas related to funding, finances, security policy, or other strategic initiatives.  

I get it! Now what? 

Once you’ve found your Facings, join the People Network and sign up to join your Facings’ meetings and discussions. CaRCC is an open and inclusive community; we actively encourage and welcome new members!

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