Computer applications of increasing diversity form a growing part of the undergraduate education of meteorologists in the early twenty-first century. The advent of the Internet economy, as well as a waning demand for traditional forecasters brought about by better numerical models and statistical forecasting techniques has greatly increased the need for operational and commercial meteorologists to acquire computer skills beyond the traditional techniques of numerical analysis and applied statistics. Specifically, students with the skills to develop data distribution products are in high demand in the private sector job market. Meeting these demands requires greater breadth, depth, and efficiency in computer instruction. The authors suggest that computer instruction for undergraduate meteorologists should include three key elements: a data distribution focus, emphasis on the techniques required to learn computer programming on an as-needed basis, and a project orientation to promote management skills and support student morale. In an exploration of this approach, the authors have reinvented the Applications of Computers to Meteorology course in the Department of Meteorology at The Pennsylvania State University to teach computer programming within the framework of an Internet product development cycle. Because the computer skills required for data distribution programming change rapidly, specific languages are valuable for only a limited time. A key goal of this course was therefore to help students learn how to retrain efficiently as technologies evolve. The crux of the course was a semester-long project during which students developed an Internet data distribution product. As project management skills are also important in the job market, the course teamed students in groups of four for this product development project. The success, failures, and lessons learned from this experiment are discussed and conclusions drawn concerning undergraduate instructional methods for computer applications in meteorology.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: May 7, 2001
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