Oral history of British science
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (9 of 14). An Oral History of British Science
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2013-08-15, 2013-08-22, 2013-09-26, 2014-01-14, 2014-02-13, 2014-04-03
British Library, London
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie, 1968- (speaker, female)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 9: Comments on awareness of other members of HHLMD group that the ‘boss’ was bullying self and others. Story of senior member of staff at DERA’s reaction to own decision to leave DERA, to take up project manager position, UCL, early 1999. [2:47] Story of beginning work as project manager of project developing High Resolution Optical Spectrograph [HROS] for GS telescope, based at UCL, 1999, including early decision to delay Provisional Design Review [PDR] and comments on reasons for different levels of motivation of members of project group composed of academic scientists on short term contracts, one with permanent position and a ‘scientific consultant’. Story of discovery that own project had had 7 project managers previously. [9:16] Comments on own relations with group at University of Edinburgh [UE], with instrument-making expertise, in context of relative isolation of UCL group. Mentions own recruitment of contractors. Story of development of project, including successful PDR. Comments on technical difficulties of project, including problems of maintaining stability of spectrograph attached to moving telescope. [11:51] Mentions ‘boss’ at MSSL; ‘head/manager of group’ at UCL; own management of 15 staff. Comments on negative effect on project of group member with permanent position at UCL; different parts of own groups: ‘optics guys’, ‘mechanical team’, ‘electrical guys’, ‘software guys’. Comments on reasons for decision to employ contractors to produce technical drawings of instrument components, in relation to demands of Critical Design Review [CDR]. Story of ‘failure’ at CDR stage, including threat of project closure. Mentions father’s illness at this time. Story of alteration to design of spectrograph, removing problem of attachment to moving telescope – from HROS to BHROS (Bench Mounted High Resolution Optical Spectrograph). Comments on changes to project team at this stage, including removal of an obstructive member, involving employment tribunal. [20:01] Story of continuing to lead development of new ‘bench-mounted’ spectrograph (BHROS), involving long hours of work, use of existing designs/components of UE group (including anti-vibration mount, closed-circle cooler). Story of software engineer (former team member at DERA) who left project following training. Positive comments on employment of software consultant; use of some UE software. [23:28] Story of own interaction with UCL workshop, in attempts to have BHROS components manufactured; subcontracting of work to independent engineer involving meetings in car parks to exchange plans/metal-work; employment of recently (formally) retired engineer in UCL workshop, able to bypass ‘red-tape’; purchase of components on own credit-card. Mentions death of father. Comments on eventual success of project. [26:56] Comments on/discussion of experience of being 1 or only 2 women involved in HROS/BHROS project. [31:27] Detailed comments on development of unique view of whole of BHROS project, acting as a ‘systems engineer’. Comments on technical details of development of BHROS, including cabling. [34:45] Comments on success of BHROS measured in terms of timeliness, cost and quality (in relation project brief requirements concerning resolution, vibration, etc.) Story of last-minute problem with particular collimator. [37:52] Story of transportation of BHROS to Chile, to be attached to GS telescope [interruption].
Life story interview with space scientist and television presenter, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.