Past and Potential Venues for Hosting Hack Weeks

Hack weeks can and have been hosted at universities, for example in university library spaces or active classrooms. There is also a growing number of venues that facilitate organization of scientific conferences (and especially discussion meetings) that are great venues for hack weeks (and often come with the benefit of some administrative support).

This document compiles a list of venues where hack weeks have been hosted in the past, or that we think might potentially be good venues. Note that many of these require an application >12-18 months in advance of the workshop!

If you have additional venues in mind that might make great venues for hack weeks (either specific to a scientific field or a specific geographic region), please share your suggestion with us through the issues. Because organizing events in the US and EU countries can present significant obstacles to participants from some countries (both in terms of travel and in terms of acquiring travel visas), we are particularly curious about potential venues in Africa, Asia and Australia.

Lorentz Center Leiden

The Lorentz Center is a venue for organizing interactive workshops, run by the University of Leiden and the Dutch funding agency NWO. Leiden is a half hour by train from the Amsterdam Airport, which is a major European air travel hub. The Netherlands have a dense system of public transport (mostly train and bus), which also connects internationally to Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. The Netherlands are a relatively tolerant and open culture, with high levels of English language fluency in the cities. The Lorentz Center itself provides rooms, monetary funding and significant administrative help with organizing the workshop. The Center provides a room that fits of the order of 50 participants, and while not fully configurable (there are rules about fire safety), tables and chairs can be moved around and adjusted. On the same hallway is also a set of offices, and each participant is assigned a desk in a shared office for the duration of the workshop. Participants used these offices for focused project work as well as break-out sessions. The Lorentz Center requires an application ~12-18 months in advance of the workshop and is available for workshops across the natural sciences, computational sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences. While it is not stricly necessary to have a researcher based in the Netherlands on the organizing committee, one mandate of the Center is for workshops to engage the Dutch research community, where inclusion of a researcher based at a Dutch institution can be helpful. The Center provides several thousand Euros worth of funding for each accepted workshop, in addition to the rooms, coffee breaks, administrative support, and a conference dinner. They also provide lunches and access to bicycles at a discounted rate.

We organized Astro Hack Week 2018 at the Lorentz Center, and had very positive experiences with the Center. The staff are extremely professional and well-organized, which reduced the burden on us as a committee significantly. They worked closely with us and were flexible enough to accommodate some of our particular requests, such as our application + registration procedure. Many of the practices administrative matters, like hotel block bookings, caterings and buses for the conference dinner, were organized without us having to think about them in detail, which was extremely helpful. The two weaknesses we identified were the lack of air conditioning and the difficulty to arrange a live-stream and recording for our tutorials. Astro Hack Week coincided with a major heat wave, which made it hard for participants to concentrate on occasion. The Lorentz Center is also technically not set up for live streaming, and bringing in our own equipment came with some challenges (most notably, the variable upload data rates).