What if chemists were also programmers?

Students inspired by programming course specially designed for their field. 

Clear, motivating and flexible – these were the words that bachelor’s students of chemical engineering used to praise the programming course that was designed for them and rolled out over a year ago. 

‘In 2016, we realised that there were no compulsory programming studies as part of the bachelor’s programme. We thought that students would be motivated by a programming course where they could solve problems related to their own field’, explains Professor Antti Karttunen, who leads the course. 

Our idea turned out to be correct: the customised course became so popular that in the beginning we couldn’t fit everybody in. From next autumn, the course will become part of the compulsory studies for the bachelor’s programme, because digitalisation is rapidly changing working life in the chemical engineering sector as well. When modelling chemical engineering processes, programming skills are essential – and understanding programming basics is an asset in many other tasks as well. 

‘Earlier, stuff could get done with just one program, but now there are often multiple programs and use – and you have to get them to talk to each other. Small businesses rarely have people employed as programmers, so programming skills can be a large asset in the labour market’, Karttunen explains. 

Many students already have a good grip on programming, while others have not even tried it. For this reason, there is plenty of classroom teaching on offer, but it is only for those that need it. In the practice exercises, programs are created for making calculations, handling data and drawing graphs. 

‘They are simple but concrete tasks, through which the student can see how many things can be done more simply and quickly with coding than with Excel, for example. Although the course is short, the students still make a lot of progress’, Karttunen reports with satisfaction.

About Programming in Chemical Engineering

  • A six-week course on the basics of programming in Python. 
  • Classroom teaching three times a week
  • Programming exercises are checked automatically using the CodeRunner software. 
  • Plenty of online material is available to supplement the classroom teaching
  • Course is equivalent to a basic course from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Those interested in programming can therefore easily continue their studies through other courses from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.