Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Software Carpentry at Curtin

The first Software Carpentry workshop to be held at Curtin University (and the third so far in WA) started on Monday 18 July. We decided early to experiment with the timetable and spread the course over four half days. Monday was for the Unix Shell, Tuesday and Wednesday for Programming with Python and Thursday for Version Control with Git.

We offered 40 places, and it was already fully booked with a couple of weeks to go. Most participants were from Curtin University, but there were also some attendees from CSIRO and other places.

Matthias, Andrea, Philipp Bayer and Andrew Rohl took turns to instruct with a large group of friendly and enthusiastic helpers (thank you David, Janice, Kevin, Rebecca, Rob, Stef & Vicky). More thanks go to Shiv and Rebecca, who staffed the software installation help-desk on the Friday before.

We find the software installation helpdesk to be an important part of a Software Carpentry workshop to help people with any problems. However, we found that only a few people take the opportunity to come along to a helpdesk organised before the main workshop. In light of some of the problems we had – on the first day we found out nano was not working on some Windows installations, and on the second day, we had some Python installation problems – we will move the helpdesk from a pre-workshop timeslot and make it part of the first day instead.

The next Software Carpentry workshop held at Curtin will have an ‘installation party’ to kick off the workshop, helping us to figure out problems early on and ensuring the smooth running of the following lessons.

Despite some minor hiccups with sticky notes that didn’t want to stick and some misbehaving software, everything went smoothly. We look forward to seeing some SWC graduates at CU Hacky Hour next week!

The workshop was a collaboration between the Curtin Institute for Computation and the Curtin University Library. It couldn’t have taken place without volunteers from Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.


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