Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2015 Election: Aleksandra Pawlik

My first degree was in Computer Science. When I started the university I had very little idea about programming. I struggled a lot. I graduated very discouraged and convinced that I just couldn't do it. But then eight years later Greg asked me if I'd like to be a Software Carpentry instructor. I finished the instructor training and I realized that had I been taught differently, maybe now I'd have a great career as a software developer. But then, I wouldn't be writing this blog post.

Background

My background is not in science but rather in studying scientific practice. In 2014 I completed a PhD at the Open University in the UK. The focus of my research was the practices around writing, maintaining, and using scientific software documentation. This research gave me insight into the everyday work of scientists developing software. Now I work at the University of Manchester in the UK, in the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) project. I lead the Institute's training activities which include coordinating Software Carpentry workshops in Great Britain.

Previous Involvement

I started with Software Carpentry as a helper, then became an instructor and taught for the first time at a workshop in April 2013. Today I have taught at over ten workshops, mainly in the UK and US. I also co-organised and taught at two workshops (including one for Women in Science and Engineering) in Poland, where I'm originally from.

My work in SSI allowed me to get engaged in developing Software Carpentry in many aspects. Along with my colleague Giacomo Peru, I have been providing administrative and operational support for the workshops in the UK. I have also been promoting the Software Carpentry training model and have been advocating the need for increasing the computational competence among researchers at all career levels.

I am a part of the Steering Committee of Software Carpentry's sister organisation Data Carpentry. Recently I co-organised and taught at the first Data Carpentry workshop in the United Kingdom. And in collaboration with the ELIXIR project I developed a preliminary plan to roll out Software and Data Carpentry across Europe in partnership with the ELIXIR Nodes.

Future Contribution

If elected to the 2015 Steering Committee, I would, like Katy Huff, be happy to take up any post. Based on my experience so far, I would be helping with coordination and organisation of Software Carpentry workshops in the UK, and across other European countries. I would try find out how to get Software Carpentry to the parts of the world were we haven't been yet.

I would contribute to the instructor training and to the development of the instructor handbook. I had an opportunity to attend and help at three face-to-face instructors training sessions. I have also been helping out some less experienced instructors in the UK in setting up their workshops. So I suppose I've got a pretty good insight into what the instructors gain through the instructors training and what they may have difficulties with when they have to fly on their own. As Software Carpentry expands, having a good mentorship programme and support for instructors is essential.

If you would like to learn more about me, please feel free to email me.

SOFTWARE CARPENTRY FOUNDATION · ELECTION 2015

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