Monday, July 17, 2017

Welcome New Board Members

The PSF is thrilled to welcome six new board members, chosen on June 11 during the 2017 PSF Board Election. The PSF would not be what it is without the expertise and diversity of our board, and we look forward to seeing what our new members accomplish this quarter. Read on to learn more about them and their initial goals as PSF Board Members.

Paul Hildebrandt has been a Senior Engineer with Walt Disney Animation Studios since 1996. He resides outside of Los Angeles with his wife and three boys. In his first quarter, he hopes to serve the Python community by better understanding the well-oiled machine that is the PSF and by handling regular board activity. He desires to contribute by focusing on sponsorship and corporate involvement opportunities.

Eric Holscher is co-founder of Read the Docs and Write the Docs, where he works
to elevate the status of documentation in the software industry. He has hiked 800 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, and spends most of his spare time in the woods or traveling the world. His wish is to focus on sustainability and to create a new initiative that will bring in sponsors who are focused on the sustainability of the ecosystem such as PyPI, Read the Docs, and pip.

Marlene Mhangami is the director and co-founder of ZimboPy, an organization that teaches Zimbabwean girls how to code in Python. Through her organization she has worked with the organizers of Django Girls Chinoyi and Harare, as well as PyCon Zimbabwe to grow the use of Python locally. Her goals for the quarter are to help connect, support, and represent issues relevant to Pythonistas in Africa. She will seek to increase the number of PyCons in the region and facilitate the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups.

Paola Katherine Pacheco is a backend Python developer and organizer of Python groups such as PyLadies Brazil, PyLadies Rio de Janeiro, Django Girls Rio de Janeiro, Pyladies Mendoza and Python Mendoza. She runs a YouTube channel where she teaches Python in Portuguese. Her goals this quarter are to energize Python events for the Brazilian and Argentine Python communities, and to increase diversity by promoting education and events to women and underrepresented groups.

Kenneth Reitz is the product owner of Python at Heroku. He is well-known for his many open source software projects, specifically Requests: HTTP for Humans. He seeks to contribute towards the PSF's continued optimization of its operations, increase its sustainability, and the sustainability of the entire Python ecosystem.

Thomas Wouters is a long-time CPython core developer and a founding PSF member. He has worked at Google since 2006, maintaining the internal Python infrastructure. His immediate goal is to get reacquainted with the PSF procedures and the matters the board attends to, both of which have changed a lot since he last served on the Board of Directors. Longer term, he would like to work on the awareness of the practical side of the Python community: the website, mailing lists, and other help channels like IRC, as well as actual code development and services like PyPI.

Friday, May 19, 2017

2017 Frank Willison Memorial Award Goes To Katie Cunningham And Barbara Shaurette

Every year the Python Software Foundation awards the Frank Willison Memorial Award to a member(s) of the Python community. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding contributions that Python community members have made having began as an award, “established in memory of Frank Willison, a Python enthusiast and O'Reilly editor-in-chief, who died in July 2001”.

The Python Software Foundation has awarded the 2017 Frank Willison Award to Katie Cunningham and Barbara Shaurette in recognition of their work creating Young Coders classes.  Cunningham and Shaurette have gone above and beyond making the Young Coders teaching materials freely available.

The program began at PyCon 2013 in Santa Clara and was an immediate success. The follow-up blog post is the second most popular post in PyCon's history by a wide margin. Additionally the event was one of the most talked about topics of the 2013 conference.

Lynn Root and Jesse Noller pitched the idea to Cunningham asking her to lead it. Cunningham  then reached out to Shaurette seeking her assistance, or as she said, “Omg help!”

Shaurette has experience teaching early childhood education. Her experience teaching younger students came in handy as she reworked materials used for adult classes into the materials the program uses today. The class includes Raspberry Pis, keyboards, and a mouse that the students were allowed to take with them, along with two books Python for Kids and Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners.

The first class for students aged 10 to 12 did not go without hitches.  That year there were a lot of technical issues with the Raspberry Pis. Noah Kantrowitz saved the day helping Cunningham and Barbara getting the Raspberry Pi’s set up. “The setup is a little complex, but he set the guidelines for what equipment we use, and how we plan the classroom every year,” Shaurette said.

“There were moments setting up that I said, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work,” Cunningham  recalls.

That first class was eight hours. Then Katie and Barbara wrapped up and did it again the next day for a second a time with a whole new class.

By the end of the first day it was already a noted success. “The enthusiasm around it was insane. People were so excited that we were doing it. We were off in our own corner and not central to the conference, but people were stopping by and peeking in,” Cunningham  explains.

Once the kids were let loose to experiment, they tried all sorts of things.  “I don't think you'd ever see that kind of experimentation in a classroom full of adults, who would more likely do everything in their power not to break their computers,”  Shaurette wrote of the kids’ ability to learn, write, and run code.

The second day was a whole new class, but this time it was a group of 13 to 16 year olds, and just as successful. “One thing that I find is how energizing the kids get at the end,” Cunningham said.

Not long after that, Young Coders was approached by the PyOhio and PyTennessee organizers. Both conferences have held Young Coders nearly every year since.  Brad Montgomery has taken over responsibility in PyTennessee, but  Cunningham  still runs the workshop at PyOhio.

Since the start of the program  Cunningham  and Shaurette have taught over 400 kids!

We thank Cunningham and Shaurette  for their work in actively promoting and teaching Python to a new generation of programmers.