Successful Python-Focused Software Training Workshop at Jackson State University

Jackson State University

A Python-focused Unidata Software Training Workshop took place August 30-31, 2018, at Jackson State University. The workshop was sponsored by the Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Atmospheric Sciences (CPAS), and organized by Drs. Remata S. Reddy and the author, in collaboration with Unidata Program Center Staff. Topics covered included the use of Unidata's MetPy and Siphon packages, focusing on atmospheric science applications such as: Upper air data analysis and the Skew-T, making maps with Cartopy, working with surface data analysis, model data, satellite data, time series analysis and more.

JSU Workshop
Unidata Workshop at Jackson State University
(Click to enlarge)

The workshop was open to the individuals from the central Mississippi region, and included 23 total participants, including 7 National Weather Service forecasters from the Jackson, MS Weather Forecast Office (NWS-Jackson), 3 Scientists/Engineers from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center (USAC-ERDC), in Vicksburg, MS, 3 CPAS faculty, and 10 students ranging from sophomore to graduate student status. There was also a range of expertise with Python among the participants, from “a great deal of knowledge” to “little experience.” Regardless, participants mentioned the ease of being able to get through the curriculum, thanks to the outstanding instruction by Unidata developers Ryan May and John Leeman. The instructors took turns between teaching and surveying the room to provide assistance to those in need.

“As someone who is inexperienced with Python, the workshop was easy to follow, and I understood nearly all of it,” said Anthony Thornton, a Jackson State Junior majoring in Meteorology.

JSU Workshop
Instructor John Leeman

Student participants were focused on enhancing their overall skillset for research projects, graduate school, and industry jobs. Faculty appreciated the new tools such as Jupyter Notebooks to incorporate into their respective courses along with visualization tools for Skew-Ts and time series to incorporate into their research.

“I am so impressed by the Unidata workshop,” said Duanjun Lu, Assistant Professor of Meteorology at Jackson State, who appreciated the “opportunity to learn, to refresh and to further understand python applications in atmospheric science. Our students, especially those seniors, had a great opportunity to learn this cutting-ridge program in meteorology today. I am so impressed by the topics of Jupyter notebooks, satellite data, SkewT, and time series because I always need to visualize those data in my research. This workshop also provides me abundant resources for my teaching especially for my Data Visualization class.”

JSU Workshop
Workshop participants

Similarly, industry professionals from NWS-Jackson and USACE-ERDC were interested in learning the cutting-edge programming for relevant applications in their respective fields especially Siphon and Satellite data analysis. One of the most popular topics included the many uses of MetPy to visualize different meteorological variables.

“The Unidata workshop was a great learning experience for me,” said Norberto Nadal-Caraballo, leader of the Coastal Hazards Group at the USACE-ERDC in Vicksburg, MS. The instructors “ struck a perfect balance between teaching basic Python concepts and applications that even new users could follow.”

Editor's Note:
The Unidata Program Center is expanding its program of leading workshops covering various Unidata technologies at educational institutions around the United States. If your college or university would be interested in hosting a workshop, please contact Unidata's Workshop Coordinator at


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