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CHPC joins DARA in Madagascar for the Linux and Python training

Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) scientists headed for Madagascar in February to run a week-long hands-on introductory computer programming with Linux and Python course. The course forms part of the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project and was hosted at the Institute and Observatory Geophysics of Antananarivo. The ability to programme with Linux and Python is critical for the processing of radio astronomy data that will be emanating from the Square Kilometre Array project and as such in 2017, DARA included it in its basic training programme that aims to develop high tech skills in radio astronomy for the development, maintenance and running of radio telescopes and instrumentation. DARA is funded by the Newton Fund which promotes science and innovation partnerships that are geared towards economic development and welfare of collaborating countries. The project is targeted at countries that form part of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network (AVN): Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa and have all received computer clusters from DARA and AVN, all of which have on them the same Linux setup and astronomy software installed by HartRAO (Hartebeeshoek Radio Astronomy Observatory). CHPC delivered the programming course twice in 2017: at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique and at the Technical University of Kenya in Nairobi. Running the course in Madagascar were CHPC scientists Drs: Daniel Moeketsi, John Poole and Krishna Govender.CHPC is one of DARA’s South African partners with others being: HartRAO, SKA-SA, South African Space Agency and the universities of Rhodes, UNISA, Cape Town, Western Cape and North West. DARA also has a number of United Kingdom partners from the universities of Leeds, Manchester, Hertfordshire, Oxford, Bristol and Central Lancashire, as well as an industrial partner Goonhilly. Other partners include institutions at the AVN countries. Together, the DARA stakeholders seek to provide a pool of talented young people who have been inspired by astronomy to play a leading role in the emergence of new economies in their countries, Sambatriniaina Rajohnson, a Masters student in Astrophysics and Astronomy at University of Antananarivo said: “The course was helpful for us. Even though some of us had some background of scientific programming, we discussed new, interesting and important topics that will be useful as future researches.”CHPC regularly holds similar training programmes for its users and potential users to enable then to optimise their use of high performance computing facilities.

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