Every two years the instrumentation building community in astronomy get together for conference organised by SPIE, the international optical engineering society. It’s big and tiring and crowded, and the best place to get the updates on how all the major telescope and instrument projects around the world are getting on – not to mention a whole lot of community gossip. It’s also a nice opportunity to catch up with friends and former colleagues from around the world. The conference location alternates between Europe and North America, and this year we’re in lovely Montreal.
I’ve already written about the Hack Day I was asked to organise this year, and I’m excited that that will be happening tomorrow. I’ve had some great conversations already with people about their hack ideas, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things come together.
The first talk I attended all week (Sunday morning! not cool, organisers) was by Phil Crosby of CSIRO in Australia, who spoke about success drivers for large high-technology projects, such as the E-ELT and the SKA. Having had a taste of a management role in my job at MPIA in Heidelberg, this is a subject I’m actually really intrigued by. As a manager, PI, or systems engineer how do you ensure that your project really is under control, and importantly, that you recognise red flags when they arise?