College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Civil Engineering Department hosts Data Management and Programming Workshop

UKZN’s Department of Civil Engineering in partnership with the eThekwini Coastal Engineering Stormwater Catchment Management Department ran a two-day Data Carpentry workshop, the first of its kind at UKZN.

The workshop covered interactive lessons on data organisation using spreadsheets, analysing and visualising data using the python pandas package and managing data with SQL.

Thirty-five staff and students from Civil Engineering, Land Surveying and Property Development as well as engineers from the eThekwini Municipality participated in the workshop run by Dr Katrin Tirok and Dr Justin Pringle from Civil Engineering. Both Tirok and Pringle are trained Data and Software Carpentry instructors.

Data and Software Carpentry are non-profit volunteer organisations running workshops facilitated by community members.

‘While Data Carpentry ( focuses on teaching basic data literacy and programming concepts to novices including lessons on data management and data analysis with R or Python, its sibling organisation, Software Carpentry (, focuses on best practices in software development teaching use of the command line, version control and programming in R and Python,’ Tirok said.

‘These skills are crucial in todays research environment but are usually not taught as part of the curriculum.

With a growing instructor community in South Africa, we want to bring more Data and Software Carpentry workshops to UKZN,’ she added.

‘Housed on GitHub, all Carpentry’s lessons are open source, with an open contribution model, and lessons are collaboratively created and maintained by volunteers. The material contains lessons for different domains of research, ranging from life and physical sciences to social sciences. Library Carpentry ( offers software and data skills training aimed at the needs and requirements of library professionals,’ Tirok said.

For more information contact Dr Katrin Tirok at email: or Dr Justin Pringle at

Words: Ndabaonline