Friday August 24 2018, Education Track, C3.4 & C3.5, 14:50 AEST

“I’m a designer, why should I learn python?” We’ve been teaching a course to non-nerds for a couple of years and so we’re going to share some of the things we’ve discovered.

Learning to program is often a difficult journey requiring patience and perseverance. This journey can seem even tougher if one does not already see the eventual benefits of learning to program. In this talk, we share our experience in teaching the first-year programming course for architecture and design students at the University of New South Wales.

Computer science courses often gloss over the motivational aspects of learning the skill of programming. However, it is quite important to contextualise the benefit for anyone outside the computer science domain. As part of this talk, we cover:

  • how architecture and design students may benefit from programming and those benefits may be conveyed.
  • simple ways of motivating students to keep going (tests, jokes and easter eggs)
  • the power of machine learning and data science in providing a tangible benefit of having a programming skill for architecture and design students
  • the structure of the program and what worked and didn’t work there
  • the practical details of of setting up a Python dev environment that’s flexible yet abstracts away some of the low level details
  • open sourcing the course

Watch 'Teaching Python to Design Students' on PyCon AU's YouTube account

Ben Doherty

Ben Doherty

According to 23andMe, Ben is unlikely to be a deep sleeper and likely to be able to detect asparagus odour. He’s currently leading the research efforts at BVN where they are looking at how they can make buildings more like Hogwarts (complete with moving staircases and furniture). Failing that, he wants to make buildings that are ‘just right’™ all the time. Outside of that Ben teaches the Design Computing course at the University of New South Wales and in his spare time, Ben likes to explore the culinary delights that can be made with the humble centrifuge.

Having studied behavioural economics and computer science, and having spent time working in predictive markets, banking systems, renewable energy and currently in building architecture, Ishaan is interested in how to make models which balance generalisability and usability. Currently he’s a researcher at BVN and led the Design Computing python course at UNSW this year. In his spare time he enjoys playing the guitar poorly, rock climbing and maintained his unbeaten record in Monopoly.

Ishaan Varshney

Ishaan Varshney

As a child, Ishaan developed an unhealthy obsession with rolling down steep roads on his tricycle. Since then, he’s been looking to get adrenaline rushes in the world of Python as his tricycle does not fit him anymore. Having worked in predictive markets, financial systems, renewable energy and the construction industries he’s interested in solving problems people have described as being ‘strange’ and ‘cute’. Ishaan has a bachelors in economics and computer science and a masters in artificial intelligence from the University of New South Wales. He also lectured the Design Computing course at the University of New South Wales this year.