Committee Formation

Usually a hack week is spearheaded by one or several individuals who have the motivation to host a hack week for a specific community. Once topic of a hackweek is formulated, the process of gathering together other committee memebers should begin, ideally no later than 12 months prior to the event.

Below we list the typical roles across an organizing committee. We note that for some events, certain roles might not be considered an integral part of the formal organizing committee, such as tutorial leads. There are advantages and disadvantages to including everyone at the decision making level, and these should be considered by the lead organizers early in the process.

Some advantages include an increased sense of ownership that results in organizers putting forth their best effort in designing and delivering content, and a broadening of the collective wisdom of the organizing committee around important decisions due to the presence of a diversity of perspectives. Early career faculty and researchers also often report that being recognized at the organizational level helps their resumes when it comes to applying for jobs.

Disadvantages include the fact that as the committee size increases, the process of making decisions can become more challenging. It can also become difficult to include everyone in important decision making meetings when the organizing committee spans multiple time zones.

Tutorial Leads

Generally the largest group of organizers are focused around development and delivery of data science tutorials. Responsibilities include:

Additional guidelines on the roles and responsibilities for tutorial leads can be found on the Geo Hack Week wiki page for tutorial leads.

logistics coordinator

The logistics coordinator plays an important role in event planning and implementation. A partial list of their responsibilities has been compiled on the Geo Hack Week administrative planning repository as a set of GitHub issues. (ask Jane for one of her checklists)

Project/Hack coordinator

A project/hack coordinator helps to guide the formation and smooth functioning of projects and hacking during the event. Responsibilities include:

Cloud computing resource organizers

For many events we use centralized cloud computing resources, for example JupyterHub deployed on a commercial cloud platform. This requires someone who can deploy these resources and be available to assist with any troubleshooting during the event.

overall coordination

There may be one or several people considered overall leaders of the event. These are often the people who initiated the idea of the hack week in the first place. Within a more traditional organizational structure, there may be one person responsible for most of the decision making and ensuring everthing gets done, however this can place a significant burden on a single person. In a more distributed leadership model, multiple people have autonomous decision making power informed and supported by cross-team communications.

Responsibilities of overall coordinators include:

Recruiting an organizing committee

Depending on the size of the group who initiate the idea of a hack week, it may or may not be necessary to put time into recruiting others to assist as members of the organizing committee. In the case of an institution such as a university department starting a hack week, there may be enough local administrative support and tutorial leads without needing to find additional people. In other cases, for example our recent ICESat-2 hack week aimed at building software tools for a new NASA mission, we wanted to have participation from a broad community, especially members of the satellite's science team who had already begun to build software tools. In this case a broader range of recruitment efforts were necessary. For hack weeks that recur over multiple years, one might also recruit enthusiastic participants as organizers for subsequent events, as has been common for Astro Hack Week

Because the organizing committee has a responsibility to model the principles and norms of behavior we aim to promote at a hack week, it is important to find people whose values align with this mission. Similarly, we want the organizing committee to be as diverse as possible to maximize the number of different perspectives in the room, and to offer role models to an equally diverse range of hack week participants.

Here are some of general principles for recruiting a diverse and engaged organizing committee:

Recognizing contributions from committee memebers

Hack week organizing committees often include a mix of people who are both funded to participate in the hack week activities, and who are contributing their time voluntarily. In most cases, hack weeks would not happen without the generosity of many people who believe in the community building and educational mission of these events. In order to sustain the continued offering of hack weeks, it is important to find ways to acknowledge and if possible, reimburse people for their time and effort.

Here are some ideas for recognizing people's contributions to hack weeks: