Many new graduates, not surprisingly therefore, now arrive at HR Wallingford already knowing how to program. They may know different languages to what they subsequently need for projects here, but that gives them the building blocks to learn new ones. Plus, the experts in the informatics team are always on hand to advise less experienced programmers.
Kate, Jane and Olivia all learned to code at university. Kate had to learn to code for her PhD. She started modelling her estuarine model in Excel, but soon realised it wasn’t capable of meeting her needs, so taught herself Visual Basic and Fortran. Olivia learnt python, C and Matlab as part of her undergraduate course and then got in a lot of coding practice when she ran numerical models for her PhD thesis. To be able to interact with her model of turbulent vertical mixing in the ocean, she had to write various plotting and analysis scripts along with short scripts to set the initial states of the model in Python. Jane touched on programming in her undergraduate degree, but it was a substantial part of her Masters in GIS, which combined her love of informatics and geography.
“Learning programming of course doesn’t stop after university,” Jane points out. "It’s important to keep your knowledge up-to-date, as the pace of change is so fast. There is always more to learn – new languages, technologies and methods.”
Over the years, our scientists and engineers have made sure that they keep abreast with developments and have used programming to maximum benefit for our projects. As computer power keeps rising, and new techniques emerge, they will continue to make the most of developments in a discipline that Ada set in motion with her early programming almost 200 years ago.