Programming Workshop for Scientists in Africa

Programming Workshop for Scientists in Africa

During my masters programme at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, I was exposed to computer programming, and this marked a significant paradigm shift in my academic career. I saw scientific research from a completely different perspective. I felt empowered! Unfortunately, this opportunity is not readily available to many scientists in Africa. It was particularly saddening when a group of lecturers at my alma mater in Nigeria offered to pay me money in exchange for me to teach them how to code. Since then I have nurtured the idea of running an initiative that offers free programming training for scientists in Africa.

I strongly believe that if the African scientists are empowered with the essential scientific computing skills, they will grow to become creative thinkers, they will be able to help themselves and they will be confident enough to inspire the people around them. In all, they will become innovators driving the continent's scientific and educational self-sufficiency. Interestingly, I am a good example of one such African scientist who was empowered!

Sofiat Olaosebikan (Lead Coordinator, PWSAfrica)

To empower students in Africa with the programming tools needed to bridge the gap between theory and practice, research students at the University of Glasgow, led by Sofiat Olaosebikan, have designed and will deliver an annual Python programming workshop named PWSAfrica.

PWSAfrica 2019

Application for Universities in Africa to host PWSAfrica 2019 is now open at this link!

PWSAfrica 2018: Report

The first workshop was held over July and August 2018 at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. At this inaugural event, which covered an intensive two-week long curriculum, the tutors trained over 100 participants including postgraduates and undergraduates, with majority of the participants from Mathematics, and others from Computing Science, Economics, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Physics and Statistic. In the first week, the participants were introduced to data types, conditionals, loops, data structures, functions, file I/O and functional programming. In the first part of the second week, certain Python libraries for scientific computing was introduced, including Numpy, Matplotlib and Pandas. In the last few days of the workshop, the participants were split into teams and they were assigned group projects, which involved writing codes to solve complex problems such as fireworks animation, language interpretation, matching problems and formal modelling problems (see pwsafrica.org/projects). 

PWSAfrica received a deeply enthusiastic response from the University of Ibadan. Building on this, we are excited to make plans to run further workshops in the budding academic year. This could be at the University of Ibadan, where we could strengthen the relationships already fostered, or expand to other universities in Nigeria and other African countries, so as to empower students elsewhere who might also benefit from a computing science education they are unable to receive at present.

The Team 

Members of the team are all research students and staff at the School of Computing Science, University of Glasgow. We are passionate about programming, and we want to share the knowledge with others. 

The PWSAfrica 2018 team involved Benjamin Bumpus, Fatma Elsafoury, Fionnuala Johnson, Sofiat Olaosebikan (lead) and Tom Wallis. 
Supporters: Prof Quintin Cutts, Dr Jeremy Singer and Dr John Williamson.