Tag Archives: programming

Intro to Python1

First of all, I don’t like snakes. When I’m talking about Python, I’m talking about the programming language.

I am not a programmer. It was not even a requirement in engineering school. I struggled through programming MATLAB (an analytical math software) and promptly decided that programming was not for me. Then, I made a couple websites, and messed around in HTML and CSS. Making pretty designs is nice, but I want to do something functional.

I chose to study Python as an experiment because I love data. Python is excellent for building databases and parsing lots of data. Last year, I found data for the past 10 years of March Madness and spent nearly 15 hours trying to develop a method for figuring out how who will win. It was not successful, but that gives you an idea of how much I like playing with data and trying to find patterns.

So where am I now? I’m taking a 13 hour training course on Codecademy.com. At 28% complete, I still have a long way to go. I am intrigued so far though. Unlike HTML and CSS, it’s really easy to get user inputs and call databases. I am hopeful that I will survive the next 72%.

My end goal of this project (Python1 – mind you, I intend to make this a series of projects) is to call information from a database and match it to a list in a spreadsheet. That sounds really boring, but the data is cool! So, NASA has this database of outgassing properties. When materials are exposed to the vacuum of space, they often lose some of their mass. (Metals don’t lose much; plastics lose a lot). To launch satellites, the developers usually have to make a list of all the materials in their spacecraft and then write down the outgassing properties using the NASA database. Sadly, I know that many people do this by hand. I want to make a code that matches the material in the list (say Aluminum 6061) to the outgassing amount. Then, the outgassing properties can automatically be generated once you have a bill of material.

Maybe that this boring to you, but it seems much less boring than looking up each material property individually and then copying and pasting it into a document. (Welcome to engineering!)

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