Matthew McNally, Graduate Software Engineer at CSIRO
A day in the life of…

Graduate Software Engineer in Data61 at CSIRO

He began his CSIRO journey as an Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship student commencing in November 2015 and worked with the team developing the Workspace platform, a scientific workflow engine which provides a framework for researchers to create applications supporting data science. His internship focused on visualising bushfire modelling and manufacturing simulations driven by Workspace in virtual reality (VR). Following his graduation in 2016, Matthew joined the Workspace team as a casual employee while he completed his Honours and continued working to improve the Workspace VR platform. Matthew is now a full-time Graduate Software Engineer with the CSIRO Workspace team and, among other accomplishments, has had the opportunity to work in the USA for two weeks with a major international client.

Matthew McNally studied ​a Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours) ​at RMIT University and is now a Graduate Software Engineer at CSIRO.

6.45 AM

Today is gym day, so it’s an early start today. I really should have woken up at 6.30 am though, so I won’t be able to stay for too long! After gym, I have breakfast, get ready and start making my way to work.

8.45 AM

I arrive at work in Clayton at 8.45 am. The first port of call is a coffee run with other members of my team to Grafali’s across the road at Monash University. Coffee is a software engineer’s lifeblood after all …

9.00 AM

To start off the day, I check my emails. There is usually a stream of emails from our build server and our continuous integration platform which come through overnight – these give our team details about the results of software builds and tests. I run through these emails to check that no build errors cropped up and no tests have failed. There are also a few updates on Atlassian Jira, our issue and project tracking platform – two Sprint Tasks which I created yesterday have been re-prioritised in preparation for the Monthly Sprint Meeting tomorrow. Before today’s Daily Standup Meeting starts, I also quickly jot down some notes about the tasks that I progressed yesterday.

9.40 AM

Each day at 9.40 am sharp, our entire team gets together for a Standup Meeting. Each team member (including those at other locations who generally dial in with Cisco Webex) discusses tasks they have been working on the previous day, any issues they have run into and which tasks they plan to work on that day. I try to keep my updates as succinct as possible – yesterday I was working on an interactive chart prototype to demonstrate one of the data visualisation requirements of the client project I am involved in. I also raised a code review to get feedback from my team on a new Workspace feature I completed.

10.30 AM

Straight after our Daily Standup, the Weekly Status Meeting for the client project I am working on is next up on the agenda. Our Project Lead runs the meeting, running through each Sprint Task which has been progressed over the last week under each component of the project. As the software engineer leading the visualisation aspect of the project, I talk the client team through a short video demonstrating the chart prototype which I prepared the previous day. The demo is a success – the members of the client team give some initial constructive feedback about how the visualisation can be improved and these suggestions are recorded in Jira.

12.00 PM

Some of our team will usually head out to grab lunch at Monash University each day. I get my usual – spicy tempura prawn nigiri and rainbow rolls from Sushi Sushi. It’s the first week of university though and the line is gigantic!

12.40 PM

Once I’m back at the office, I start chipping away at today’s development tasks. First things first, I work on implementing some of the initial user interface feedback which was discussed in today’s client meeting. Our client suggested that logarithmic chart scales were a necessary capability and added that positioning of axis labels and scale intervals need to be easily modifiable by the user.

2.30 PM

The code review I raised yesterday has begun receiving feedback from other team members. The Workspace feature it concerns adds the ability to display configurable axis scales in a 3D scene. Most comments on the review amount to small changes in code style and convention. However, one of the Senior Software Engineers in our team suggests that number formatting options should also be exposed to the user, allowing for aspects such as decimal places and use of scientific notation to be directly modified. I create a Jira task to reflect that formatting options should be added and the question of how to best represent these options to an end-user needs to be investigated further.

4.00 PM

After the code review is complete, I move on to the next task in my growing Jira backlog. A Senior Software Engineer recently assigned me to an issue concerning our charting capability - changes to user chart scripts would not correctly update the chart unless the display window was closed and reopened. This has caused issues for other members of my team using charts and so I get straight into debugging what is causing the issue.

5.30 PM

It took some time but I have finally identified a fix for the issue! I commit the fix, log my findings as a comment on the Jira issue and create a code review for the fix. All my tasks for the day are done now, so I clean my coffee cup, pack up my things and start heading home.

10.30 PM

It’s time to get some well-deserved sleep!

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