On 25 and 26 September 2019, 4TU.ResearchData in collaboration with the Information Expertise Center (IEC) organized the premier Software Carpentry workshop at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). This first event is part of a pilot to investigate if there is wider demand in the research community for the skills taught in the Software Carpentries and whether the workshop should be provided on a regular basis at TU/e. We were therefore very excited to see how this first event would work.
Nicolas Dintzer makes his debut as Software Carpentry instructor.
Photo: Paula Martinez Lavanchy
The thirty tickets available for the workshop were booked within one day after registration opened with thirty eight people registered on the waiting list. So far so good!
The workshop was taught by two excellent instructors, Nicolas Dintzner and Renato Alves. Nicolas is one of the TU Delft data stewards from the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management who made his debut as a certified instructor of the Carpentries. Renato was running his second workshop as a certified instructor and joined us from the Structural and Computational Biology Unit of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg where he has nearly completed his PhD.
Renato Alves, Structural and Computational Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Photo: Paula Martinez Lavanchy
To complete the team we had helpers from TU/e, TU Delft, Utrecht University and even from the Czech Republic! This was truly a community effort in collaborative spirit of the Carpentries.
We talked with two of the helpers to hear their impressions about the workshop:
“I have to admit I was initially surprised about the turn out because this is a technical university. I come from a background (psychology and neuroscience) where programming is not a big part of our education so I participated in a couple of Carpentries workshops before because programming was not officially part of my university education. But, considering the turnout it seems that here there is also a demand for this type of education within technical universities as well and the Carpentries is a great way to start learning programming languages.
My experience as a helper for the first time was good. Although taking notes on the Etherpad was a bit challenging, being a helper and provide some help is nice and you don’t have to know everything because you can always ask the more experienced helpers to assist you, so you do not feel that you are failing in helping”
- Peder Isager, PhD student at the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology
“I find the Carpentries a great opportunity for giving researchers the computing skills that they certainly need when doing research. I would like to pioneer the Carpentries workshops in Czech Republic. I have recently been certified as an instructor of the Carpentries, but that was the theoretical part and I wanted to see a live workshop, and the organizers were very welcoming of the idea of me coming to help in this workshop.
Helping here allowed me to gather experience on what the instructors need to take care of when teaching and I have learned how to run a lesson. It was also interesting to see how the whole event is run and organized at the university level. I think I’m ready to get started in Czechia!”
-Jan Dvorak, Lecturer, Charles University, Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship
We also asked our hosts at TU/e how was the first experience of running a Software Carpentry workshop?
“When I told colleagues about this Software Carpentry workshop, some were surprised: "A library that organizes software training courses. It shouldn't get any crazier”. I am convinced that these workshops are also part of the tasks of a library. People don’t always realize that software is an important part of research data management (RDM). So these workshops are simply an extension of our RDM training courses.
As a library, we do not (yet) have the substantive expertise to provide these training courses. I am happy that we, with the support of 4TU.Centre for Research Data, can make use of the Carpentries community for this. I see this training as an important step in the direction of creating our own Software Carpentry community on the TU/e."
- Leon Osinski, Data Librarian, Information Expertise Center TU Eindhoven & Front-office 4TU.
We had a great audience who, in addition to following and asking questions about the lessons, brought up other questions that generated interesting discussions and exchange of knowledge within the whole group. For example, there was interest to know how instructors and helpers organize their data and folders for their own research and what are the best practices for commiting changes of code to your repository while doing your research?
The provision of feedback through the post-it’s was very welcomed by the participants. Some of the positive impressions were:
“Great workshop!: Feedback with stickers, rhythm of the presentation, for unix shell, even with some experience already, I learnt a lot.”
“The instructors and helpers are very knowledgeable on the topics”
“I enjoyed the workshop very much. The yellow and blue stickers notes are great. Thank you for this workshop”
Of course there are always things we can improve and we are looking forward to do so in the next workshop at TU/e. Yes, that’s right! There will be more workshops run within this pilot! If you are interested to join a workshop visit the 4TU.ResearchData Events & Training page where the next workshops will be announced.
Author: Paula Martinez Lavanchy, Research Data Officer, TU Delft