The TMT International Observatory (TIO) was the sponsor of the TMT Early-Career Initiative: a program to provide professional development for early-career scientists and engineers across the TMT partnership (Canada, China, India, Japan, the University of California, and Caltech), and foster international collaborations among TMT scientific and technical groups. Run by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC), the program has leveraged the expertise of current TMT project leaders to help early-career participants define science and instrumentation requirements, practice project management, and plan ahead for specific operations and data analysis modes that TIO may support. The program, which is currently on hiatus, was designed to maximize the productivity and impact of scientific campaigns with TMT, fully utilize the expertise and diversity of the international partnership, and equip young professionals with leadership and project skills they will employ in a multitude of career paths.
The centerpiece of the TMT Early-Career Initiative has been the weeklong TECI workshop bringing together graduate students and postdocs from all of the partner countries and institutions. The workshop included three major strands: (1) a series of overview talks by TMT project leaders such as Project Manager Gary Sanders and Systems Engineering Group Leader Scott Roberts; (2) a series of activities wherein teams of participants articulate science goals, devise later-generation TMT instruments that can meet the corresponding science requirements, and present their design concepts to an expert panel and a peer-composed Science Advisory Committee; and (3) collaborative work on “mini-projects” devised by TMT project leaders, that directly informed the observatory’s science, operations, and data management requirements. The two latter strands mixed participants into international teams and require direct collaboration between scientists and engineers.
The TMT Early-Career Initiative has been part of a suite of programs aimed at telescope workforce development led by ISEE, that includes local workforce development in Hawaii, international workforce development through TECI, and mentor training to prepare the telescope personnel to be effective and inclusive mentors. TIO has been a major funder and participant in ISEE’s telescope workforce development initiatives.