The Georgia Tech College of Computing has received an $11 million grant from Schmidt Futures to establish one of four software engineering centers within the newly created Virtual Institute for Scientific Software (VISS). The new center will hire half a dozen software engineers to write scalable, reliable and portable open-source software for scientific research.
“Scientific research involves increasingly complex software, technologies and platforms,” said Alessandro Orso, the software engineer and professor of computer science who leads the project. “Furthermore, platforms are constantly evolving, and the complexity and amount of data involved are ever increasing.”
The result is that these software systems are often developed as prototypes that are difficult to understand, maintain, and use, which limits their effectiveness and ultimately hampers scientific progress.
Software engineers are trained to solve these types of problems and know how to create high-quality software, but their time is too expensive for the budget of a typical research project. In typical grants, software is often treated as a by-product of research, which means that limited funding is allocated to it.
It’s there that Schmidt Futures Contracts Between. Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt which early on relies on exceptional people to make the world a better place. They are investing $40 million in VISS over five years at four universities: Georgia Tech, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge.
“Schmidt Futures’ Virtual Institute for Scientific Software is at the heart of our efforts to mobilize exceptional talent to solve specific challenging problems in science and society,” said the executive vice president. Elizabeth Young McNally.
At Georgia Tech, the funds will hire a software engineering manager, as well as three senior and two junior software engineers. A faculty director and advisory board will help guide the group’s work, which will include collaborations with Georgia Tech scientists.
“We are very proud to host one of the first four centers of the Schmidt Futures Virtual Institute of Scientific Software,” said Charles IsbelDean and John P. Imlay Jr. Chair in Computer Science
“The center at Georgia Tech will advance and support scientific research by applying modern software engineering practices, advanced technologies, and modern tools to the development of scientific software. The center will also collaborate with students and researchers to train the next generation of software engineering leaders.