It is abright, sunny morning as usual at the top of Cerro Pachon at the Gemini Telescope and I was fortunate to have a chat with the Head of Engineering Operations, Michiel Van Der Hoeven.
It is a fascinating time to be discussing the engineering challenges facing the Gemini team. In the past, the engineers operated in specialty teams for specific instrumentation but with funding cutbacks, it has become exigent to figure out another way. Michiel has teamed up specific engineers with scientists to let each of them know more about what the other is doing. The main notion is to make the telescope operate for the science needs. The engineers need to know what is needed to produce the needed data and therefore conversations with astronomers and astro-physicists are important. When the telescope shuts down, there are many jobs to be done in less than a few weeks and now the engineers show the scientists what the jobs are and ask what the science priorities would be for the time frame.