The science community is actively engaged in research, development, and construction of instrumentation projects that they anticipate will lead to new science discoveries. There appears to be very strong link between the quality of the activities used to complete these projects, and having a fully functioning science instrument that will facilitate these investigations. The combination of using internationally recognized standards within the disciplines of project management (PM) and systems engineering (SE) has been demonstrated to lead to achievement of positive net effects and optimal project outcomes. Conversely, unstructured, poorly managed projects will lead to unpredictable, suboptimal project outcomes ultimately affecting the quality of the science that can be done with the new instruments. The proposed application of these two specific methodical approaches, implemented as a tailorable suite of processes, are presented in this paper. Project management (PM) is accepted worldwide as an effective methodology used to control project cost, schedule, and scope. Systems engineering (SE) is an accepted method that is used to ensure that the outcomes of a project match the intent of the stakeholders, or if they diverge, that the changes are understood, captured, and controlled. An appropriate application, or tailoring, of these disciplines can be the foundation upon which success in projects that support science can be optimized.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) National and International Non-Traditional Exchange (NINE) Program teaches concepts of project management and systems engineering in a focused, nine-week, continuous effort that includes a hands-on build project with the objective of constructing and verifying the performance of a student-level basic radio instrument. The combination of using a project management (PM)/systems engineering (SE) methodical approach based on internationally recognized standards in completing this build is to demonstrate clearly to the learner the positive net effects of following methodical approaches to achieving optimal results. It also exposes the learner to basic radio science theory. An additional simple research project is used to impress upon the learner both the methodical approach, and to provide a basic understanding of the functional area of interest to the learner.
This program is designed to teach sustainable skills throughout the full spectrum of activities associated with constructing, operating and maintaining radio astronomy observatories. NINE Program learners thereby return to their host sites and implement the program in their own location as a NINE Hub. This requires forming a committed relationship (through a formal Letter of Agreement), establishing a site location, and developing a program that takes into consideration the needs of the community they represent. The anticipated outcome of this program is worldwide partnerships with fast growing radio astronomy communities designed to facilitate the exchange of staff and the mentoring of under-represented1 groups of learners, thereby developing a strong pipeline of global talent to construct, operate and maintain radio astronomy observatories.