Skill Pills

Skill Pills are a series of extracurricular intensive nanocourses designed for OIST students, taught by volunteer OIST members and open to all.

Skill Pills provides a platform for any OIST member to propose a specific topic for a course. When the topic is recognised to be valuable for the students and the OIST research community, the Graduate School will gather volunteer teachers and students, and organise the details of the course. Skill Pills will focus on providing to the participants a basic set of practical skills that will be of direct use in the students' research and graduate curriculum.

Target audience and teaching opportunities

Skill Pills are primarily designed around students’ specific needs, both theoretical and experimental, as determined directly by Faculty members and students themselves. OIST students will therefore be the primary target for participants, although once a given Skill Pill is decided on and organised, any remaining seats can be filled by members of the OIST community. Participation in Skill Pills is voluntary and should be driven by a will to learn above anything else.

Each nanocourse will be taught by volunteer faculty members, postdocs and even students gathered within OIST. With more than 360 researchers in its midst, OIST is overflowing with knowledge that is begging to be propagated. Skill Pills provide a great teaching opportunities to all researchers.

Modus operandi

Skill Pills exist within a flexible structure that can adapt to OIST members’ schedules as much as possible. The courses will follow several models, according to the topic of the course. For light topics (e. g. Introduction to LaTeX, or Git) short sessions of a few hours can be organised. For heavier topics (MATLAB, Introduction to Neural Networks) one or two-day intensive courses are preferable. In order not to interfere with student classes and experiments, the courses will preferably happen during evenings for light topics, and during weekends and holidays for full-day courses. This will allow all participants to be able to focus entirely on a single topic and learn as much as possible during that uninterrupted period of time.

The Skill Pills will focus as much as possible on problem solving with a hands-on approach so as to make sure that the participants will be walking away with practical tools they know how to use. Of course, a two day experience does not make one an expert, and hard work and perseverance is ultimately left to the participants’ capable hands, but Skill Pills will always aim to provide a friendly push in the right direction.

Future Skill Pills

We list here all the Skill Pills that are currently planned. Follow the links below for more information or signing up.

 Skill Pill Date
Skill Pill: General Relativity Tuesdays from July 11 to August 29 (2PM)
Skill Pill: Linux August 22, 24 and 29, 10AM to 12PM
Skill Pill: Python July 31, August 3, 7, 10, 10AM to 12PM
Skill Pill: Raspberry Pi Saturday September 9, 10AM to 6PM


Past Skill Pills

We list here past Skill Pills. Follow the links to get more information as well as downloading the slides or material of the course.

 Skill Pill Date
Skill Pill: Julia July 4, 6, 11 and 13 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: Intro to Bioinformatics June 17, 24 (Saturdays, 10AM-6PM) + June 16 (3-5PM)
Skill Pill: SolidWorks May 18, 19, 25, 26 (10-12PM) + May 17 (11AM-12PM)
Skill Pill: Calculus May 17, 18, 24, 25 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: DMRG May 29th and June 1st (1:30PM - 3PM)
Skill Pill: Terminal April 5, 6 and 10 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: Differential Operators March 23, 27 and 30 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: Intro to Programming March 18 and 25 (Saturdays, 10AM-6PM)
Skill Pill: Quantum Information 2 February 16, 22, 23 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: Intro to Neurobiology February 4 and 11 (Saturdays)
Skill Pill: LaTeX January 30, February 2, 6, 9 (5-7PM)
Skill Pill: C/C++ December 10, 17 (Saturdays)
Skill Pill: Fourier Transforms December 1, 7 and 8 from 5 to 7PM
Skill Pill: Next-gen Sequencing November 17, 19 and 23
Skill Pill: gnuplot November 14 and 21 from 5 to 7PM
Skill Pill: R October 22 and 29 (Saturdays), 10AM to 6PM
Skill Pill: Quantum Information October 17 and 24 (Mondays), 5 to 7PM
Skill Pill: Mathematica September 13, 14, 20 and 21 (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) from 5 to 7PM
Skill Pill: Materials Modeling and Simulation September 10 (Saturday) from 10AM to 6PM
Skill Pill: Keynote September 6 and 7 (Tuesday, Wednesday) from 5 to 7PM
Skill Pill: LabVIEW July 19, 20, 26, 27, August 9, 10, from 5PM to 7PM (Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
Skill Pill: Inkscape July 25th and August 1st, from 1PM to 3PM
Skill Pill: Data Structures and Algorithms with Python July 23rd and 30th (consecutive Saturdays) 
Skill Pill: Database Manipulation June 21st, 23rd, 28th, 30th from 5PM to 7PM
Skill Pill: Intro to Cellular Biology May 14th and 21st, 2016 (Consecutive Saturdays)
Skill Pill: Git June 1st (Wed.) and 2nd (Thur.) from 5PM to 7PM
Skill Pill: Arduino April 16th, from 10AM to 5:30PM (Saturday)
Skill Pill: Presentation Skills April 14th, from 10AM to 5:30 PM (Thursday during Final Fortnight)
Skill Pill: CAD with SOLIDWORKS March 30th, 31st, April 6th, 7th from 1PM to 3PM (weekdays)
Skill Pill: Differential Equations March 26th and 27th, 2016 (Saturday and Sunday)
Skill Pill: Terminal March 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th from 5PM to 7PM (weekdays)
Skill Pill: Gravitational Waves March 7th, 8th and 10th, 2016, from 4:30PM.
Skill Pill: Statistics February 27th and 28th, 2016 (Saturday and Sunday)
Skill Pill: Programming with Python February 13th and 20th, 2016 (Consecutive Saturdays)
Skill Pill: Matrix Algebra January 30th and 31st, 2016 (Saturday and Sunday)
Skill Pill: LaTeX January 18, 21, 25 and 28, 2016 (From 5PM to 7PM)
Skill Pill: Group Theory January 16th and 23rd, 2016 (Consecutive Saturdays)
Skill Pill: MATLAB November 28-29th, 2015 (Saturday-Sunday)



We took some pictures available here.

Credits and recognition

Because of the unscripted and unaccredited nature of Skill Pill, participants will not be able to earn OIST credits that contribute to their degree. Skill Pill completion will, however, be recognized by means of eFront certificates. Furthermore, we are confident that the practical skills the students will work towards acquiring will be fully rewarding in their own right.

For Skill Pills teachers, participation will be officially recorded and recognition will be addressed in the most appropriate way possible, such as logging those hours towards the required teaching hours for OIST students, or by issuing official certificates for students, postdocs and faculty. 

We will however require that the direct supervisor of the prospective teachers should be notified in advance of the participation.

Topics under consideration

From direct interaction with students and faculty, we are in the process of compiling a list of topics that are likely to be covered as a priority.  

  • Mathematics: Linear algebra, differential calculus, integral calculus, multivariable calculus, vector calculus, complex variables, probability and statistics, discrete mathematics...
  • Programming: MATLAB, LabView, Python, Mathematica, COMSOL, database manipulation (SQL), high performance computing...
  • Lab skills: wet lab basic skills, lock-in amplifiers, oscilloscopes, 3D printing, laser cutting, lithography, light manipulation...
  • Productivity tools: collaboration programming and version control (Git), LaTeX, beamer, SOLIDWORKS, Igor, Origin, Endnote...

If you are a student, please click here to submit the topics that you think should be covered.

Proposing a topic

If you would like to see a custom Skill Pill organized, contact Jeremie Gillet. In case where the topic is very specific (e. g. Group Theory for physicists), we will ask you to find at least 2 or 3 teachers and 5 or 6 students on your own before we validate the nanocourse and open it to the OIST community to find additional teachers and students. 


For more information about Skill Pill, never hesitate to contact Jeremie Gillet.