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22 December 2003 Cooperative educational project for optical technicians utilizing amateur telescope making
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In the modern optical shop, technicians are typically skilled machine operators who work on only one phase of the manufacture for each and every component. The product is designed, specified, methodized, scheduled and integrated by people off the shop floor. Even at the component level, the people inside the shop usually see only one stage of completion. In an effort to make the relevance of their work visible; to demonstrate competence to their peers; to gain appreciation for the work of others; and to give them a meaningful connection with the functions of optical systems, I created “The Telescope Project” for my former employer. I invited those interested to participate in an after-hours, partially subsidized project to build telescopes for themselves. The ground-rules included that we would all make the same design (thus practicing consensus and configuration management); that we would all work on every phase (thus learning from each other); and that we would obtain our parts by random lot at the end (thus making quality assurance a personal issue). In the process the participating technicians learned about optical theory, design, tolerancing, negotiation, scheduling, purchasing, fabrication, coating and assembly. They developed an appreciation for each other's contributions and a broader perspective on the consequences of their actions. In the end, each obtained a high-quality telescope for his or her personal use. Several developed an abiding love for astronomy. The project generated much interest from technicians who didn’t initially choose to participate. In this paper I describe the project in detail.
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Ray Williamson "Cooperative educational project for optical technicians utilizing amateur telescope making", Proc. SPIE 5180, Optical Manufacturing and Testing V, (22 December 2003);


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