From Rubik's Cubes to Data Cubes Adrian Dębski’s Industrial Placement year with CEDA

Posted on July 27, 2023 (Last modified on October 19, 2023) • 4 min read • 751 words
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From Rubik's Cubes to Data Cubes Adrian Dębski’s Industrial Placement year with CEDA

Adrian Dębski, holder of 3 European and 13 Polish ‘speed-cubing’ records, joined the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) for his Year in Industry as part of his BSc Computer Science degree at Aberystwyth University in August 2022. During his time with us he amazed us with not only his prowess of solving Rubik’s cubes in less than 10s (blindfolded!) but also in how well he became a team member and helped enhance CEDA’s service deliveries. As Adrian left us to head over to Seoul for his next speed cubing world championships we caught up with him to reflect on his time with us.

Software and tools underpin CEDA’s service delivery to the wider science community. Whether that is associated with our JASMIN data analysis system or the vast CEDA data archives. During his year Adrian worked on a variety of tasks aimed at enhancing some of these key services to raise the standard of services provided by CEDA, providing him with a wide range of experience and knowledge across all parts of the software development lifecycle and made a real impact improving CEDA’s services.

Environmental data held in the CEDA archives are highly heterogeneous and with over 350 million files search tools are a vital aspect of our service delivery. For CEDA this takes the shape of our comprehensive data catalogue - but as detailed as the content may be, without decent search functionality users can find it hard to find the data they really need… Thankfully, Adrian took this need onboard and completely rewrote the catalogue’s search functionality, bringing better indexing and search results alongside a wider range of search options. We are confident our users will benefit from this much improved aspect of our catalogue.

Adrian has had to quickly pick up new abilities and experiences along the way in order to accomplish this remarkable feat, he explains:
“It was a great feeling and huge satisfaction to improve the quality of the catalogue. Before I looked into it, I heard about the complaints this service would receive on a regular basis: about how slow and inconvenient it was and its poor search results. Exploring the code and documentation to understand everything and develop a new approach was a great hands-on experience… as was talking to data scientists, listening to their stories, figuring out the actual use-cases of the wider user community, and developing something that really delivers improvements for actual users! I have learnt so much about cooperation and also developed my approach to problem solving and coding.”

Adrian also helped us to move one of our older services - the CEDA Document Repository - over from an in-house hosted service to the CERN operated Zenodo service. This required careful and detailed handling of the content, but Adrian rose to the challenge to ensure CEDA were able to make this transition not only with zero impact on end-users, but actually helping to enhance the content along the way! You can find out more about this migration over on our techincal blog.

Screenshot of document repository that Adrian helped to improve

During his time with us, team members were impressed by Adrian’s “can-do” attitude as well as his remarkable intuition, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills. With more twists and turns that a Rubik’s cube solution, his hard work and overall involvement has been appreciated by his colleagues here in CEDA, and we were delighted to offer him a place on the STFC Graduate Scheme next year with us with additional sponsorship for his 3rd year of studies.

Though Adrian may not have clear plan for his future career at this stage, he sees how time with CEDA can help him explore his options and provide opportunities to develop:

“The chance to join CEDA again via the STFC graduate scheme is a great opportunity for me - I look forward to the new challenges it will provide to continue to improve my software developer skills within an exciting and inspiring scientific environment. Knowing the scheme will also provide me with the chance to work with other teams across STFC and CEDA’s other partner organisations will mean I’m sure to have the opportunities to try out a range of other working environments too.”

We wish Adrian all the best in his final year of studies and are delighted to know we’ll see him again in September 2024! Thanks for all your hard work this year Adrian and all the very best for the World Speed Cubing Championship in Seoul this summer!

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