Today was day two of the SDSS-V Multi-object spectroscopy review. We heard about the spectrographs (APOGEE and BOSS), the full software stack, observatory staffing, and had an extremely good discussion of project management and systems engineering. On this latter point, we discussed the issue that scientists in academic collaborations tend to see the burdens of documenting requirements and interfaces as interfering with their work. Project management sees these things as helping get the work done, and on time and on budget. We discussed some of the ways we might get more of the project—and more of the scientific community—to see the systems-engineering point of view.
The panel spent much of the day working on our report and giving feedback to the team. I am so honored to be a (peripheral) part of this project. It is an incredible set of sub-projects and sub-systems being put together by a dream team of excellent people. And the excellence of the people cuts across all levels of seniority and all backgrounds. My day ended with conversations about how we can word our toughest recommendations so that they will constructively help the project.
One theme of the day is education: We are educators, working on a big project. Part of what we are doing is helping our people to learn, and helping the whole community to learn. And that learning is not just about astronomy. It is about hardware, engineering, documentation, management, and (gasp) project reviewing. That's an interesting lens through which to see all this stuff. I love my job!