UM Professor and Grad Student Teamed up to Bring Software Carpentry to Bogotá

Camilo Escobar Velasquez, Tim Norris, and Francisco Cardozo Macias

UM Professor and Grad Student Teamed up to Bring…

On May 27 and 28, 2024, Dr. Timothy Norris and PhD student Francisco Cardozo Macias taught a two-day intensive Software Carpentry workshop (SWC) and introduced over 50 students at the Universidad de los Andes (UniAndes) in Bogotá Colombia to the basics of scientific computing and programming with Python. Dr. Norris coordinates similar workshops for both R and Python here at the University of Miami through his joint appointment with the Frost Institute for Data Science and Computing (IDSC) and the University of Miami Libraries (UML)—both R and Python are offered at least once a semester.

These workshops are made possible through the University of Miami silver membership with the Software Carpentry Foundation, which is supported by a collective of UM departments: the Louis Calder Memorial Library, the  Cooperative Institute For Marine And Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), the Department of Computer Science, the Graduate School, IDSC, UML, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship. The membership also provides opportunities to train graduate students, faculty, and staff as certified carpentry instructors. Over the years, twenty four UM faculty, staff, and students have become certified instructors and it is through the membership that Francisco was trained and became part of the growing SWC instructor team here in South Florida.

The workshop in Colombia marks a significant step forward in how the University of Miami leverages the silver membership with the Software Carpentry Foundation. Prior to this event, the UM Software Carpentry program has extended workshops to the local scientific computing community in South Florida. For example, IDSC partnered with Florida Memorial University (a local HBCU), through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded AIM-AHEAD program to offer similar training to students there. During the COVID years, UM also offered virtual workshop seats (through UML) to students at Stillman College, a Georgia HBCU. Additionally, IDSC is coordinating to offer further SWC workshops to more local HBCUs and MSIs (minority serving institutions) through an National Science Foundation (NSF) cyberinfrastructure planning grant. While these initiatives function to provide essential technology training at local institutions, the event in Colombia was the first UM organized workshop to be offered in Spanish and in a foreign country.

This novel community-building opportunity was the brainchild of UM Graduate student—and Colombiano—Francisco, who suggested the idea in late 2023. The organization for the workshop was then facilitated through the Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC), which is comprised of institutions of higher education across the western hemisphere. Through the HUC, the University of Miami offers a number of virtual internships to students, and for the past two semesters Dr. Norris has mentored students and provided internships through the UML-IDSC joint Geospatial Digital Special Collections (GDSC) initiative, which he leads. The spring 2024 semester intern, Pia Iturbides Buritica from UniAndes, led the coordination to engage Dr. Camilo Escobár Velasquez , a faculty member from the department of Systems Engineering at UniAndes, and make the idea a reality.

The workshop itself was a resounding success. The UniAndes students attended two long eight-hour days of intensive learning that focused on command line computing (the bash shell), version control with git and GitHub, and analytic computing and visualization techniques using the Python programming language. The students provided positive feedback and an “outstanding” rating through Software Carpentry Foundation administered workshop survey.

Dr. Norris, Dr. Escobár Velasquez, Francisco Cardozo Macias, and Pia Iturbides Buritica also have a nascent relationship that forms a foundational piece for community building around scientific computing and Software Carpentry in Latin America. These personal relationships enabled an initial institutional relationship to form between the Universidad de los Andes and IDSC, with these two institutions sharing the costs to fund the workshop. This effort is part of a broader initiative led by the Software Carpentries Foundation to teach scientific computing across disciplines and cultures that make up the global scientific community. Through this initial success, the organizers and participants made a humble contribution to a growing community that is essential to enable continued scientific discovery.


Pictured at top, left to right: Camilo Escobár Velasquez, Timothy Norris, and Francisco Cardozo Macias.


University of Miami Software Carpentry Workshop in Bogota Colombia, May 27-28, 2024 at Universidad de los Andes

University of Miami Software Carpentry Workshop in Bogota Colombia, May 27-28, 2024 at Universidad de los Andes

University of Miami Software Carpentry Workshop in Bogota Colombia, May 27-28, 2024 at Universidad de los Andes