Physics and Astronomy Hiring for Summer 2024

15 April 2024

The Physics and Astronomy Department is looking for a student programmer to work on the Carleton Weather Database project for the summer. We’re looking for someone with attention to detail, and an interest in weather, scientific instrumentation, and of course computing.  This is a 10 week summer position.

Basically the project involves getting data collected at the weather tower in the Arb by using an Arduino system to transmit the data string over the internet to a virtual computer.  That computer stores the data in a database.  The website grabs data from the database to display for the end user.

The main goals of the project this summer are:

  • establish robust communication between the weather tower and the virtual server;
  • verify the integrity of the data coming from the tower instruments;
  • storing the data in multiple locations, most importantly a database you will help finish;
  • building a website for users to access the data;
  • document your work for future weather researchers.

To accomplish these goals, some of the tasks include the following.  The items in bold are the focus of this summer:

  • Becoming familiar with our weather gathering instrumentation and the tools for the project.
  • Learning about the weather data from an interdisciplinary research point of view.
  • Learning about time (UNIX time, CST/CDT) and how it is used in our record keeping
  • Setting up Ethernet and RS-232 interfaces on Arduino Mega and Teensy microcontroller boards.
  • Becoming familiar with, and extending, our MySQL database.
  • Writing code to establish robust communications between the Arduino/Teensy at the tower and the virtual computer on campus.
  • Confirming the accuracy of the code used to convert numbers from one form to another.
  • Updating the OS and other software (MQTT, Python, PERL, PHP, MySQL, etc.).
  • Creating a website using Django.
  • Writing excellent documentation so that your code can be easily understood and maintained.
  • Keeping regular blog entries of your work.

The successful candidate should be comfortable and productive working alone for hours at a time.  In all aspects of the work, attention to detail and ability to handle sensitive instruments will be required. 

To apply for this position, please write a few sentences for each of the following. Send your replies to Tom Baraniak (

  • What makes you interested in this position?
  • Do you have any experience with an Arduino?  None is required as it is easy to learn.
  • Please describe your familiarity with Linux and Python.
  • Please describe your familiarity with database and website development.  Do you have experience with Django?
  • How well do you do meeting deadlines and self pacing your work?

Thanks for your interest in this position!

Carleton has been gathering and sharing weather data since 1881, and these data are the oldest official weather records in the state. Most of the work on this project over the past two decades has been accomplished by students, and we look forward to continuing that tradition.  We are looking for a motivated, capable student who is interested in this project.  Please contact Tom Baraniak (tbarania) or stop by Anderson Hall 026 with any questions.