Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2016 Election: Giacomo Peru

2016 Election: Giacomo Peru

Ciao a tutti. Many thanks for taking a minute or two to read this post about my candidature for our Software Carpentry Steering Committee. As you’ll see, it was a long way from programming that I was reared, yet this opportunity for closer involvement with our work and its future brings together so much of what I have been doing all these years. Here’s why…


My educational background is diverse: long years of Classics (Ancient Greek, Latin) concluded with an MA in 2005, followed by European Studies and Local Development. No formal training in programming, therefore, but in my opinion the core disciplines of Classics are excellent preparation for programmers. Workwise, previous experience in European Project Management has informed my current role as Project Officer in the Software Sustainability Institute, where in the last two years I have carried out the Admin around Software Carpentry workshops in the UK, besides other things like administering the Institute’s Fellowship Programme and events (for more background, see http://software.ac.uk/).

Previous involvement

Since the Institute has in the last few years been the main coordinator of Software Carpentry workshops across the UK, I have become the person who has de facto facilitated these workshops, co-ordinating the various elements of the process which leads to the staging of these workshops: dealing with hosts, recruiting instructors, interfacing between the different parts involved, keeping records. I have collaborated closely with Aleksandra Pawlik, Greg Wilson and many others in the community. Even though Software Carpentry offers a fairly straightforward pattern by which to put together a workshop, each workshop has in my experience been a unique case of blending together different components. Since the structure of Software Carpentry as an organisation has, in the last couple of years, gone through fundamental changes, I have participated very directly in this transition from the old format, through a pretty fluid and unstructured phase, to the current, still in-progress, structure. During these changes my primary focus has always been to coordinate the participants and to realize Software Carpentry workshops in my relevant region, thereby fostering the development of the Software Carpentry model across our scientific community. I have learned a lot, and made some mistakes, and I am now ready to harvest the fruit of the experience matured.

Future commitment

What I like most about Software Carpentry is its openness and its effectiveness. With openness I mean the fact that anyone willing to contribute in any form is given the possibility to do so with minimum restrictions. With effectiveness I mean that Software Carpentry is actually giving to modern science a real contribution increasing its trustworthiness, accessibility and openness. More recently I have been trying to gain better understanding of what happens ‘inside’ a workshop, by attending in person and by establishing closer contact with hosts and instructors in order to deliver training which meets better and better the expectations and needs of the audience. I believe that my main contribution to the Committee would be my understanding and experience of the mechanisms of Software Carpentry as an organisation with a view to making it more agile, fit-for-purpose, and ready to sustain the success and growth it is enjoying. More precisely I would be interested in helping with the definition of Software Carpentry organisation and processes and with its taking root in the European countries where it is not well known yet.


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