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ARTS opening strikes a Chord

Submitter: Joeri van Leeuwen
Description: Complex systems such as telescope back-ends consist of many layers of hardware, firmware, software and operation procedures. To oversee its design, implementation, and later its verification Eric Kooistra designed ARTS, the Apertif Radio Transient System, according to the "V" model. The test and integration stage from such a system has many steps, and provides a gradual improvement in capabilities.

So when is such a system finished? From the project management and acquisition angle, this is an important question too. When is a good time to thank the team that built it, and your funding agencies?

Late 2017, after the delivery of the servers that form the CPU/GPU-hardware part of ARTS, we decided to celebrate that particular milestone around the turn of the year, and put some elbow grease in making sure this news would get picked up and reach the tax payers that fund it. That would give us a channel to communicate about curiosity-driven research, and the progress we make in understanding our Universe; about how innovations for fundamental science are linked to economic and societal advances; and about the future, SKA.

Thanks to Iris Nijman for press releases, Roy van der Werp and Frank Nuijens for support, Marieke Baan @ NOVA for media strategy advice and especially Poppy Savenije @ NWO for approaching her network of editors and journalists, we put a few weeks of effort into first ensuring a prime-time TV slot in a news or discussion program. The EenVandaag news program showed the most interest, and after quite some planning with their editors, the interview and camera team came out to Westerbork to film the supercomputer and the dishes. We can use their footage for our presentations or further media contacts, see
  [H:,Filr]EVERYONEFootage Drone over WSRT 2018 (EenVandaag)

The resulting item was watched by 1.2 M people (26% viewer share). Two days before the item would air, our embargoed press release had been distributed to the ASTRON, NOVA and NWO press lists. Press agencies, newspapers and other media next called for background information and quotes to augment the press release text. First posts came and led to further interest, in a mild avalanche that lasted for about 2 weeks. Overall, the news was featured on all five types of media illustrated above: TV (EenVandaag and RTV Drenthe), Radio (Radio 1 Journaal, Drente Nu @ 06m28, BNR -- With shout-out to Johan Hamaker, Jan Noordam and John O'Sullivan @ 10m00s, Radio 1 EenVandaag), Printed media (De Telegraaf, Dagblad van het Noorden, Nederlands Dagblad), Social media (EenVandaag, RTV Drenthe, Netherlands embassy in the US), and Online (Tweakers, my favorite item, see the 200-post discussion below it!, Nu.nl, NOS.nl, Engineersonline, EOS Wetenschap).

On this occasion I want to thank the team that made this GPU cluster possible, through its design (Erik Kooistra, Jan-Pieter de Reijer, Alessio Sclocco, Jisk Attema, Roy Smits, Yogesh Maan, Alwin Zanting, Alexander van Amesfoort, John Romein, Sieds Damstra, Teun Grit, Raymond van den Brink), tendering (Henk Jonkers, Gerda Sikken, Daniel van der Schuur, Janneke Wubs) and installation (Mike Sipior, Klaas Stuurwold, Leon Oostrum, Peter Gruppen, Lute van de Bult): we built an amazing machine.
Copyright: JvL
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