CEWiT Teaches Faculty Beginning Programming

By Jennifer Turrentine

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CEWiT’s Techtober events—a month long celebration of CEWiT’s 3rd anniversary—featured Python and web-scraping workshops for faculty, staff, and graduate students.

Sandra Kuebler, Associate Professor of Computational Linguistics and CEWiT Faculty Fellow, hosted a 1-day introduction to programming with Python for 20 faculty members from a range of disciplines. Kuebler, who has been programming for 20 years, believes Python is a preferred beginner language due to its utility. “Python is a great starter language because it has a fairly easy syntax without a lot of overhead. This means, you can get started writing code right away, without lengthy explanations of things that only make sense after having worked through half of the textbook.”

Programming, long associated with software developers and computer science, is proving useful in a number of fields, including academia. Kuebler uses Python to extract information from texts, to convert data from one format to another, and sometimes for calculations that are too complex for a standard calculator. Python is a great choice when you have a file where information is available in comma-separated form, but your next program needs it in a different format.

NaLette Brodnax, a doctoral student in the Joint Public Policy program and CEWiT Graduate Assistant, hosted multiple a 3-part programming series. The series introduced participants to Python and web-scraping. Brodnax explains web scraping as “a form of data collection that involves using a programming language such as Python to collect structured data on the web.” Python is a general-purpose programming language that is used for many things, but researchers can use Python to access, store, transform, analyze, and visualize data. It is especially helpful for working with large datasets.

The sessions Brodnax facilitated were recorded and are available online here: