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Proceedings Paper

How to talk so your engineer will listen, how to listen so your scientist will talk: the human side of astronomical instrument development
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Paper Abstract

Astronomical instrumentation development used to be much simpler than it is today. The quest for new discoveries and more light has driven the design and construction of new generations of ever-larger telescopes, which in turn created the need for correspondingly larger and more complex instruments. Large instrument teams composed of scientists and engineers from many technical disciplines have been brought together to design and build these instruments. Engineers trained in these disciplines have become key members of instrument development teams, taking responsibility for these areas of instrument design. With the engineers came an engineering culture and way of thinking that is often at odds with the scientific culture of astronomers. Project management techniques can help organize such an effort, but they have important limitations in a research environment and cannot ensure success. Training in the so-called “soft skills” can improve how a diverse team functions, but this, too, is not the complete answer. Only by immersing the engineer in an observing environment can one hope to overcome the cultural differences and inherent conflicts between scientists and engineers that can cause instrument projects to fail.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 July 2018
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 10705, Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VIII, 1070509 (10 July 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2314087
Show Author Affiliations
John A. Booth, Large Telescope Consulting Engineering (United States)
Lisa A. Crause, South African Astronomical Observatory (South Africa)
Southern African Large Telescope (South Africa)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10705:
Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VIII
George Z. Angeli; Philippe Dierickx, Editor(s)

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