9 Apr 2006 titus   » (Journeyer)

Michigan State University, Software Engineering, and Python

Just got back from MSU, where I gave two talks, one on my computational work and one on my biology research. (I'm applying for a joint CS/biology position there.)

One of the topics that came up frequently was whether or not I was interested in (or capable of ;) teaching CS undergrad courses, given that I have little formal CS training on my resume. My recent activities in agile testing sparked some interest, as did the notion of teaching a software engineering course based on agile methodologies. I also mentioned Greg Wilson's Software Carpentry course as a possible cross-over course for computational scientists.

I also proposed using the vast base of available OSS software as a starting point for an advanced software engineering course. The idea would be to demonstrate problems and solutions on an already-available hunk o' code; things like setting up (or extending) testing, stabilizing APIs, etc. It could actually be combined with a survey course on different languages. Hmm.

Interestingly, people in the department were already investigating the idea of switching to a scripting language -- Python was explicitly named -- for part of an intro-level programming course. (One professor mentioned ALICE, too.) Needless to say I'd be pretty enthusiastic about the opportunity to introduce Python at that level.

I also spent some time proselytizing about agile development techniques to various friends. Yep, I drunk the cool-aid, it seems.

--titus

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