The developer’s guide to Oslo
Want to meet the people shaping our data science and software community in Oslo? Then get ready for a sneak-peek into Area 42!
We’re not in the business of top-secret air force bases - Area 42 is actually an arena for a growing data science and software community in Oslo.
So why is that exciting? Because unlike our other offices, Oslo hasn’t really had a software community. But now, thanks to our friends at our Digital Center of Excellence (DCoE) we have two of our SI (Software Innovation) people in place - hoping to see more.
“The interesting part is that it happened because people who work with software development saw an opportunity and wanted to sit closer together."
But Area 42 is more than SI - it’s a majority of data scientists from DCoE - who graciously let us join them. There’s even developers from Exploration, Research & Technology.
“It’s becoming quite a melting pot for people working with or interested in software and data science," Olve says.
The name is actually a reference to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the number 42 is “the answer to life, the universe and everything”. But how did data scientists and developers get together and what does it all mean? Let’s find out!
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Have code, will travel
While Olve joined Equinor and SI this fall, Pier Lorenzo Paracchini has been working out of Oslo for close to 1,5 years. When he first made his way over the mountains from Stavanger, he found himself being the only developer in an environment a little too unlike his old SI office.
“It felt like a library-like environment which was very different and challenging to adapt to. I needed to have long video chats with the team in Stavanger and I enjoy a more social setting, so it wasn’t a good match for me. But it’s been great ever since joining Area 42,” Pier smiles.
While long Skype-calls aren’t encouraged in Area 42, there are plenty of focus rooms available right behind Pier’s desk so he doesn’t have to go room-hunting.
“Sitting next to people with the same interests and challenges, who are interested in getting to know each other is great. It really is the people sitting here that make it a great place to be.”
Pier Lorenzo Paracchini
“In the future, being able to have discussions face to face, use a whiteboard and have a team of other developers from Software Innovation here in Oslo would be great,” he adds.
Share and enjoy
Pier and Olve may be the only people from Software Innovation around, but they’re far from alone. In total, there’s close to 10 people who call Area 42 home and they come from a good mix of disciplines
“Even though we’re not all developers we need to understand each other because we work on the same thing. Whether you’re a data scientist, developer or engineer, we need to understand the different parts that make it all work.”
Understanding technical aspects is one thing, but there’s also the matter of understanding a variety of work-related situations. Aurelie is a data scientist but has also been working as a product leader since this April, and with that task comes a lot of new experiences, she says.
“I know I can be impatient and not as experienced in certain situations, and it’s reassuring to know that there are people with different backgrounds and experiences I can talk to. If we’re thinking of taking a certain direction with the product, then I can talk to someone like Knut who can give me arguments for another direction,” Aurelie says.
“Hearing both sides of the discussion makes me better prepared and gives me a chance to adapt,” she adds.
Knowing where your people are
Aurelie’s Area 42 colleague, Gerrit Toxopeus, a geophysicist from Exploration Excellence Digital and IT (DIGIT) also does quite a lot of coding. He tells us that the exciting part of sitting together like this is being able to learn from professionals.
“I think we’ve started on a new journey by working together like this, and I don’t think it’s a journey where different departments are separated."
He’s working on a well analytics project, and tells us that the way they work has changed recently. Previously, they could spend more time focusing on a certain area while today Equinor can purchase data sets from as much as 50,000 wells at once.
“We’ll always need geophysicists, engineers and geologists like before. But now we also have to think about how we’re going to get all of this data into our systems and make use of it in a short time span. Then, it’s important to know the people that can help us,” Gerrit says
So long, and thanks for all the code
Business opportunities, technology and coding are one side of the story but let’s not forget the social aspect of working together. If you’re in Area 42 you’ll soon notice that while they’re all a focused bunch, they’re also very welcoming and friendly - and filled with humor.
One example is the mood board where you can move a magnet with your face on it to indicate how you’re feeling.
“It’s pretty useful on days when you’re a little down and don’t feel like talking all the time. Then people know how to treat you,” Evmorfia Andritsopolou laughs.
Evmorfia, or Eva among friends, explains that while the board is meant as more of a fun feature, it's an indicator of a social environment. The Area 42 gang also have their own Slack channel to organize social events outside of work.
Some people work out of Area 42 on a regular basis, while others are there from time to time. But the door is always open for anyone who’s interested in software, Olve tells us.
“We had two people stop by yesterday wondering if they could join us, so I think we’ll grow out of this space quite soon. How we communicate has a direct impact on the solutions we develop, and I think this way of working together is just the beginning.”
If you’re in Oslo and interested in software or data science - you know who to look for!
And if you want to stay up to date on what the software developers in Equinor create in the future, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter below. Then, robots will deliver the latest and greatest straight to your inbox. Until next time!
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Pier Lorenzo Paracchini
Knut Utne Hollund
Alex Zili Huang