Information for Applicants

OceanHackWeek 2021 is a small, hands-on, interactive hybrid in-person and virtual workshop focused on data science and oceanography that will be held during August 3-6, 2021. Join us for four days of tutorials, data exploration, software development and community networking!

Last year, OceanHackWeek was held completely virtual, after initial plans for parallel US East and West Coast in-person events. This move to virtual was a great success that allowed for more participation, including internationally, but it was difficult for participants outside North American time zones. For 2021, we have learned from that experience and previous in-person events and will hold a hybrid event.

Applications closed on June 14, 2021, for the in-person event, and June 28 for the virtual event.

Accepted applicants will be notified no later than June 18, 2021, for the in-person event and July 8, 2021, for the virtual event.

The in-person event will take place at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, in East Boothbay, Maine (US EDT, UTC-4), as an all-day workshop (approximately 9am - 5pm). We expect to accommodate approximately 30-35 participants.

For the virtual event, formal daily activities will take place over a period of up to 3 hours per day. These activities include recorded tutorials with interactive discussions and project check-in with the entire group, but exclude actual project time. While plans are still tentative, we expect to hold these sessions in at least two time zones, USA PDT (UTC-7) and Australian EST (UTC+10).

Please see the FAQs below for answers to common questions. For additional questions, please email [email protected].


Q: I am an undergrad / first year grad / faculty / etc. Is this program right for me?

We welcome participants from all career stages and encourage applications from graduate students, postdocs and early career researchers. Advanced undergrad students with background in oceanography and data science are also welcome.

Before applying consider what you can bring to the event: by pitching a project, by your knowledge of data sets, by your programming/computational skills, by your project management skills.

We want you to grow/learn during the event! If in doubt, simply apply and explain your motivation for participation.

We expect all participants to be engaged in the team projects and focus during the week.

Q: I am proficient in Matlab / other languages but have not used Python or R. Python or R has been on my list to learn. How can I make my application be stronger?

We plan to accept participants with diverse skill levels and backgrounds in programming.

However, to best benefit from and contribute to the program, participants are expected to have some experience with Python and/or R programming.

Applicants with an extensive programming background in other languages (e.g. Matlab) are welcome to apply, if they are willing to get up-to-date on the expected basic skills before the program.

Participants should familiarize themselves with the materials included in Python novice gapminder and Python novice inflammation for a Python focus, or R novice gapminder for an R focus. These are a good reflection of the level we expect participants to be at coming into the workshop.

Q: I don’t know the first thing about version revision/control systems. Can I still apply?

During the hackweek we will use Git and GitHub but you are not expected to be an expert on it. Again we recommend the Software Carpentry lessons for git.

Note that we will require you to create a GitHub account.

Q: I do not have any programming experience. Is the program a good opportunity to get started?

We believe that OceanHackWeek participants will benefit the most with some prior programming experience, and might not find the hackweek the best place to learn programming.

If you do not have any programming experience we encourage you to start with some local or online training. Check if your institution runs a Software Carpentry workshop.

Once you have gone through some training you will have a better understanding of whether OceanHackWeek is right for you. We expect that you have basic operational knowledge of Python or R in advance of the program.

Q: Do I have to be a stellar Python or R programmer to be accepted?

No. We aim to bring in motivated participants with a diverse range of programming skill levels.

Q: I already know a lot of what you plan to cover, should I apply / will I be bored?

OceanHackWeek is not only a place to learn new skills but also a place to share expertise and build a community together. If you are already an expert but are interested in sharing and helping others, we welcome you to pitch project ideas, contribute to hacking, and assist other participants during the tutorials by being a teaching assistant!

Please mention this in the application. Send us an email if you have any questions!

Q: I have strong computational skills but have not worked in oceanography?

To ensure that participants will be interested in the oceanography problems they are solving and can give back to the field later on, we require that participants have had at least some familiarity or prior experience with oceanography data.

Q: I work in an ocean engineering / robotics / consulting company. Can I apply?

Make sure to explain your motivation for participation in the application form! We may hold a career panel discussion, so please mention if you are interested in participating.

Q: I work in a non-US institution / organization / company. Can I apply?

Yes, we welcome applications from abroad for the virtual event. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the in-person event will be limited to vaccinated US residents.

Q: I was a participant in previous OceanHackWeek. Can I apply again?

Yes, we welcome applications from previous participants, but priority will be given to new applicants. If you are interested in being a TA (teaching assistant) during the hackweek, please mention that in the application.

Q: Am I supposed to participate in all tutorials and presentations?

Yes. While we understand that not all topics may be 100% relevant to you we want to maximize engagement. Note that we post the lessons and videos online later, so if you are interested in only a portion of the OceanHackWeek consider that an option rather than taking someone’s spot.

Q: My application was not accepted, what now?

Sadly resources are limited and we cannot accommodate all the applicants we would like.

It is important to note that a rejected application does not mean a bad one! The reasons are:

  • The organizer tries to accommodate a good balance from novices to experts. That means a candidate may be rejected one year and accepted in another due to the different pool of applicants. Rule of thumb? Always apply again next year if possible! Also, if you believe you can contribute to the OHW as a helper instead of a student, please get in touch! We are always in need of helpers.
  • Another important factor that goes into the selection of candidates is the motivation paragraph in your application. Boilerplate answers or short answers like: “I want to participate” or “It is important to me” may get lower ranking than those who read the past year materials and wrote a paragraph on how the OHW can really make a difference to them. In short: be informed, be honest, be you!
  • Also, please refer to the FAQ question: “I am proficient in Matlab / other languages but have not used Python or R. It has been on my list to learn. How can I make my application be stronger?”