Why I decided to invest my time in teaching computational science

Oluseyi Akinola, Physics and Engineering Physics, Obafemi Awolowo University

There is a need for developing countries (especially the sub-Saharan African countries) to as a matter of necessity invest more funds in the education of her citizens especially the younger ones. This is very important as the world is moving fast into the super high information age. These countries must embrace STEM education in order to advance their society.

Teaching science related subjects in my part of the world is very challenging. Apart from this, most of the teaching are also theoretical with very little practical. Presently, I teach introductory physics and classical physics (bachelor level) with intention of adding satellite meteorology and applications and atmospheric modeling (graduate level) when the school resumes from the break at the Department of Physics and do my research in Atmospheric Physics. This is often without any computational part in the syllabus. This insufficient knowledge in the usage of computational tools in some of these subjects could reasonably have an impact of the students when pursuing further study elsewhere in the world.

Drawing from my personal experience, prior to obtaining my PhD degree, I have not seriously work with any computational tools before and this is a reality for so many others in my category. However, I do not want to categorically say that this is a general problem in my country as some others have access to these computational tools to work with. But majority still do not have access. The moment of truth came when I was enrolled for a research work in cloud microphysics where I was expected to work with HPC and computational tools like MATLAB and FORTRAN language in other to be able to complete my research work. I managed to do some quick crash courses online to go through with the usage of these tools and completed my program. Altogether, I am still developing my skills in MATLAB myself with the hope of learning more as my experience with teaching computational tools progresses.

Thereafter, I concluded within myself to help my students to improve their computational skills. I hope to achieve this by encouraging them to work with computational tools like MATLAB software. I will be introducing application of MATLAB in Atmospheric Physics especially to my graduate students majoring in Atmospheric sciences/Meteorology. I hope to share my experience with others in subsequent MATLAB workshops.

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