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Carthage Symposium focuses on application programming in Excel and features ‘friendly critters’

  • Prof. Tom Groleau and Excel Bear
    Prof. Tom Groleau and Excel Bear
January 23, 2018

Visit the J-Term classroom of professors Tom Groleau and Perry Kivolowitz, and you’ll find a number of friendly critters including Excel Bear. The professors are teaching a Carthage Symposium titled “Application Programming in Excel” to a class comprised largely of accounting, marketing, and finance majors.

For nearly all of the students, this is their first exposure to computer programming — in this case, using Visual Basic for Applications running inside of Microsoft Excel.

“Excel is among the most used programs in the world, keeping track of everything from Balance Sheets to wedding invitations,” said Prof. Groleau. “Despite millions of people using Excel, there are relatively few people who can really bend Excel to their will.”

According to Prof. Kivolowitz, the skills learned in this course can potentially improve a student’s career prospects. “Being able to write custom Excel programs is like being Prometheus bringing fire to the Greeks,” he said. “Like being Merlin, Albus Dumbledore, and David Copperfield rolled into one.”

Excel Bear helps teach the concept of “object oriented programming” where certain objects (like Excel Bear) provide various services to the programmer. In this case, she provides a means to print debugging information the user of Excel won’t see but is of help to the programmer.

The class has many other helpful friends such as Range Bunny and Worksheet Monkey.

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