METEO 273-001

Introduction to Programming Techniques for Meteorology

METEO 273: Introduction to Programming Techniques for Meteorology (Spring 2021) 

METEO 273-001

Course instructor: Dr. Johannes Verlinde (

Class times: Monday and Friday, 08:00 AM – 09:55 AM

Graduate Teaching Assistants:

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants:

Office hours : Dr. Verlinde with TA(s) via Zoom: TBA 

Prerequisites: METEO 101, METEO 201

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5 if they do not have the proper prerequisite override. Students who add the course after being disenrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct:

Required textbooks: None

Internet materials and links:

Course Expectations 

The objectives of this course are to:

  1. Understand fundamental programming concepts, such as variables, flow control, syntax, etc.;
  2. Apply these concepts to solve meteorological problems;
  3. Get familiar with Linux and MATLAB;
  4. Practice good programming habits. 

After this course, the students should be able to:

  1. Break a problem down into parts and translate each part into a piece of code to solve the problem.
  2. Read and modify code written by other people to suit their own purposes.
  3. Debug and fix code.
  4. Learn a new programming language easily (e.g., METEO 473).

Course Content 

The course is roughly divided into the following parts: 

Introduction to programming

  • Learn general concepts of programming that apply to most languages.
  • Get familiar with the workflow and syntax of MATLAB. 

Diving deeper

  • Explore more advanced programing topics.
  • Learn good programming practices.
  • Get experience in formulating a problem, splitting up the problem into smaller parts, and designing algorithms to solve the smaller problems, as well as how to handle bigger projects. 

MATLAB programming

  • Learn how to take advantages of MATLAB’s features.
  • Visualize data with different types of plots.

Course Policies

Assessment Policy


  • A number of simple programming problems as practice of newly-learned concepts.
  • Objective is to get familiar with programming concepts and syntax.
  • Students will demonstrate their code and solutions to an instructor or TA when they have finished with part or all of the problems. In order to keep evaluators available for the entire class, codes need to be evaluated quickly. Code will need to be well-documented and stylized (clear and readable) for quick evaluation to be possible.
  • Each problem within an exercise will be evaluated as either “pass” or “retry.” Students can retry any number of times before the deadline.


  • More extensive programming challenges that will allow students to practice problem solving and algorithm development through the application of the programming tools and concepts already learned.
  • Objective is to design a program from scratch and to handle larger projects.
  • Assignments will receive a grade based on whether the code runs and performs the required tasks, the software design, and the documentation.


  • This course requires a great deal of hands on learning and so attendance is very important. To foster increased participation in class and encourage attendance, participation quizzes will occur throughout the semester.   These quizzes will be used as a tool to understand how well the class as a whole is understanding the concepts taught and take attendance in the classroom.  There will be no graded portion of the quiz.  Students will be allowed to miss one pop-up quiz without adverse effect on their participation score.  

Examination Policy


  • Questions to test your programming knowledge
  • Objective is to make sure that students understand the material before moving on
  • Can be both in the form of concepts (e.g., “What is boolean?”) and tasks (e.g., “Make a program that displays the first 10 prime numbers”)

Final project

  • Similar to an assignment, but completely individual
  • Objective is to synthesize the skills and knowledge the students have gained in this course
  • Students are not allowed to discuss the final project with anyone other than the course instructor and TA.

There will be no final exam.

Grading Policy

The following weights are used to determine the final course grade:

  • Participation 5 %
  • Exercises: 10 %
  • Midterms: 20 %
  • Assignments: 45 %
  • Final project: 20 % 

The final grade will be based on a standard grading scale à  A: 93-100%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%, B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 70-76%, D: 60-69%, F: 0-59%. There will be no grade curving. 

Webcam Requirements

This course may require you to have a webcam for class assessments. Classes and assessments may be conducted using Zoom or other technology selected by your instructor which may use your computer’s webcam or other technologies to communicate, monitor, and/or record classes, class activities, and assessments. Please contact your instructor if you are unable to comply or have any questions or concerns. 

Academic Integrity

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations.  Class members may work on exercises and assignments in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately.  Midterms and the final project are entirely individual efforts. Students may communicate with only the instructors and TAs during midterms and with regard to the final project. Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others.  Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course.  Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40 addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct. For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 


Regular attendance is critical for building on the skills and knowledge developed throughout the class. Students who participate have a more complete understanding of the material presented and are more likely to succeed in the class. This is true whether your attendance is in person or remote. The University recognizes that, on exceptional occasions, students may miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity (such as field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests), or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, religious observance, participation in local, state, and federal government elections, or post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as elections or employment and graduate school final interviews). In all cases, you should inform me in advance, when possible. Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting your grade in this class. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help: You should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews. You should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail (see to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40 ( To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period. It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion.  If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript. 

Disruptive Behavior

Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct. 


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan (  In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site.  Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at  For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework.  For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website. 

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Disclaimer Statement

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.