Skip to Main Content
To help clarify the issues involved in deciding what computing skills to teach to physical scientists and engineers, the article presents a thought experiment. Imagine that every new graduate student in science and engineering at your institution, or every new employee in your company's R&D division, has to take an intensive one week computing course. What would you want that course to cover? Should it concentrate on algorithms and data structures, such as multigrid methods and adaptively refined meshes? Should it introduce students to one or two commonly used packages, such as Matlab and SAS? Or should it try to teach students the craft of programming, giving examples to show why modularity is important and how design cycles work. The author chose one week as the length of our idealized course because it is long enough to permit discussion of several topics, but short enough to force stringent prioritization.