Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2016 Election: Bill Mills

Meet Bill

I’m Bill Mills, a scientific software developer based in Vancouver, Canada, currently spearheading web development for the GRIFFIN collaboration at TRIUMF.

In two years with SWC, I’ve taught seven workshops in addition to five live Instructor Trainings, across five countries. Over the past year I have sat on SWC’s Mentorship Committee; my most visible work there was as co-organizer of our first Instructor and Helper Retreat.

On the Steering Committee

I’d like you to elect me to SWC’s 2016 Steering Committee so I can continue and amplify the work I began on the Mentorship Committee: to ensure SWC puts the needs of its instructors, helpers, and students first. A few ideas:

Engaging the SWC Community

SWC is great because of you. I’d like to give back to you by making sure we focus on helping you achieve the goals that brought you to us in the first place. At present, many people who complete Instructor Training never teach a workshop. Some don’t have the time, but believe in our mission and want to advocate for us; others would love to teach, but need help assembling a workshop. Everyone who does Instructor Training is a valuable member of this community; we need to support those ambassadors and aspiring instructors by building a stronger pipeline from Instructor Training to advocacy and teaching.

Our Financial Future

The Software Carpentry Foundation is working hard to hammer out how we can achieve financial sustainability. I’m very optimistic about the results so far, but I believe it’s only part of the solution; for genuine financial stability, Software Carpentry needs to redouble its commitment to its partners, and make itself attractive to large philanthropic grants.

Our partnership model must be core to our strategy, since it bases our finances on larger institutional grants, and decouples them from individual workshops. In order for this to be sustainable, we need to make sure our partners are satisfied; redoubling our attention to our partners’ needs strengthens that model, and helps keep Software Carpentry accessible to everyone.

In addition to our partners, Software Carpentry needs to attract large philanthropic grants; the challenge we’ve faced in the past, is demonstrating that Software Carpentry actually works. It’s very hard to measure the effect of a two day workshop on our students, but I believe there’s another way; we need to begin arguing on the grounds of the merit of the instructor, helper and supporter community we have created worldwide. I have watched many helpers and instructors go from their first introductions to research computing ideas, to being their strongest advocates in their communities; Software Carpentry has been brilliantly successful in empowering leaders like you. This capacity building is very fundable, and is key to enriching our financial strategy.


I am eternally enthusiastic about Software Carpentry because of its community; this project is an incubator for some of the strongest advocates of reproducible research computing in the world. I’d like a seat on the Steering Committee to make sure you always remain front-and-center in our strategy, and to ensure that Software Carpentry gives back to you every bit as much as you give back to us.


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