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30 Oct 2011, 15:57
David Lindelöf (14 posts)

I’ve been teaching programming at freshman level to chemistry students in my alma mater for some time now. It’s a class on the C programming language, it lasts one semester only (28 hours of class, 28 hours of practical work), and it’s pretty much the only programming most of these students will see during their five years of studies.

I’ve long held the belief that scientific/engineering schools do a very poor job at teaching the necessary programming skills and mindset that would help them stand out from their peers. In fact I think that on a more general level, everyone could/should learn the basics of fundamental programming skills and the toolsets around it.

That’s why I’ve been thinking of writing a book aiming to teach such students all the programming they will need to survive their practical work and the writing of their reports with their sanity intact. I was thinking of calling this “The Programming Non-Programmer”. It would be about the programming that I (a physicist by training) picked up over the years that help me in my daily job. But I really don’t know if this is a good enough topic for a book.

Ideas? Thoughts? Comments? How should I begin?

31 Oct 2011, 20:55
Susannah Davidson Pfalzer (114 posts)

Hi David,

Interesting idea! As a start, have you looked for books on the same topic? Take a look at your competition and see what those books are doing that works - and what doesn’t. As you start thinking about how to organize your book and what to include, make sure to differentiate your approach from those other books, so that what you’re writing is demonstrably different and (of course) better.

That might help give you a head start and solidify your approach.

Cheers, Susannah

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