SKA summer schools – giving students the edge

Education and training opportunities are equipping young people with essential skills in the era of Big Data.
SKA Summer School Student in China 2021
An SKA summer school in Guangzhou, China, in 2021

Summer schools focusing on SKA-related science and technology are helping to equip young people with advanced skills to ensure the astronomers of tomorrow continue to make world-changing discoveries.

The courses aim to give students in SKAO member states the edge in a highly competitive international research landscape.

Pupils studying astrophysics and related fields can hone their skills on SKA’s world-leading pathfinder telescopes during the summer schools.

In China, week-long training sessions have been running annually since 2013 at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, with the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the SKA China Office, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Each event attracts around 100 students and junior researchers from across the country learning skills closely related to the SKAO's key science drivers, including the Epoch of Reionisation and Cosmic Dawn, pulsar, neutral hydrogen and cosmology fields.

Summer schools also provide invaluable access to prototype SKA Regional Centres, data processing hubs that will receive 8 terabits of data per second from the SKAO’s two supercomputers in Perth and Cape Town.

This allows students to learn techniques in understanding and analysing Big Data: a scientific field that will define humanity’s engagement with technology and knowledge during the 21st century and beyond.

In 2019 alone, 70 BSc-level students from China practised data processing techniques on the Chinese prototype SKA Regional Centre using data from SKA precursor and pathfinder telescopes, learning new techniques and providing valuable feedback to the data centre’s design in the process.