DiRAC provides basic training by getting our users up to a common standard via our own mandatory Driving Test, the first such test in the UK. Links to all the training material needed to take the test, as well as a sample test, can be found below.
What is it and who is it for?
The DiRAC driving Test is a basic, free IT skills test that is available to all users, but is mandatory for those who are studying for advanced degrees, such as MSc and PhD, and those employed as Post Doctoral Research Assistants/Associates who have less than two years of prior HPC experience. We encourage all academic staff to also take this course if they feel the need, or dip into it to refreseh their skill-set, but this is not mandatory.
What skills are being tested?
The Driving Test is self-taught and the examination is conducted online. Feedback will be given to each person who takes the Driving Test. The test will last for 90 minutes and there is no charge. Before you take the test, you will need to be familar with the following subject areas:
- Version control- an overview (reading material)
- Version control- specifically using GIT (reading material)
- The Unix shell (reading material)
- A scripting language of your choice (e.g. shell script)
- Program testing (reading material)
- The principles of scale testing (reading material)
- A basic knowledge of python (Codecademy is a good place to start!)
- It may also be useful to have some knowledge of C or Fortran, although this is optional.
- SSH keypairs (reading material)
- Secure copy (reading material)
Why do you need to take the test?
The Driving Test is the first stage in a rolling plan to improve the quantity and quality of training and support offered to you (as a DiRAC user) over the next year. We have a responsibility to make sure that our HPC resources are used as efficiently as possible and we have an even greater duty of care to make sure you are well trained in advanced IT techniques and confident in using them. The latter urgently needs to be addressed because:
- You will be able to do more science of higher impact (and we hope you have more fun as well).
- If we have a well trained cohort, we can invest in much more powerful equipment that is much closer to the bleeding edge and so allow you to generate those new results of high impact that will allow you and your group to be seen as leaders in your field.
- It will make you much more employable. Real programming and IT skills are making a big comeback both i Academia and Industry. We need to equip you with these skills to improve your career progression.
- In short we are trying to create a virtuous circle that will benefit both you, your science and your group’s scientific reputation (often called esteem).
Before you take the test
The driving test is conducted online. You will need to clone the git repository. While taking the test, you may use the web, ‘man’ pages and any other resources you would usually use when programming. The questions are mostly independent and you may answer them in any order.
The test is graded as follows:
- 60% and above: Pass: The test was completed successfully
- Up to 60%: Fail: You will have three months to re-take the test from the date of receiving your results
Take the test!
Make sure you have read all the above and when you are ready, click here to take the test. The test takes 90 minutes from when you enter your name, email and university.