Subject: TW & QA
From: Leo Hill <leochill -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 07:43:09 -0700 (PDT)

--- "Goldstein, Dan" <DGoldstein -at- DeusTech -dot- com> wrote:

Interesting point Dan. I wonder if there were written
instructions to accompany the drawings?

Just last week I caught an error in a calibration
procedure, brought it to the appropriate technical
person and we corrected it before it went to print.

I mention this because of my background before I
started sitting here in front of the computer. Until
I was 50-ish I spent my time actually doing the
installation and repair of equipment in a heavy
industrial setting. We moved here to San Antonio
because of the wife?s career and I knew that I did not
want to continue working in an outdoor setting during
the Texas summers. I wanted air conditioning!
Drawing on my previous non-TW writing experience I
found a position as a TW in a light industrial

These folks wanted some SOP?s written to ensure their
repair people were repairing and calibrating the
production equipment properly. To write an effect SOP
I had to thoroughly understand the machine function
and know its proper settings for optimal production.
Since the machines were decades old in some cases, the
only SME?s I had were the in-plant experts, the actual
mechanics that had repaired the machines day in, day
out. So I spent lots of time with these folks
watching and taking lots of notes and asking lots of

That position was eliminated and I was hired here as
one of 6 TW?s for a medical device manufacturer.

I?ve been here about 17 months and most of my
assignments have drawn heavily on my industrial
engineering background. I can?t help but wonder if
one of the other resident TW?s would have caught the
oops in the calibration procedure without having any
real-world? calibration experience?

And that gets to your point Dan. If there was written
documentation for both spacecraft issues, did the TW
understand enough background to catch those oopses?
Obviously not because both crashed.

So the discussion questions. (1) Does a TW need to
understand the product intimately enough to not only
ask good questions of the SME?s, but to also catch
contradictions between different SME?s? (2) Does a TW
need a varied experience background or is knowing how
to spell, punctuate and parse a sentence good-e-nuff?


> The $264 million Genesis space capsule that crashed
> into the Utah desert
> last month failed because four pencil stub-size
> gravity switches designed to
> trigger the release of the spacecraft's parachutes
> were installed backward,
> NASA officials said yesterday.
> Michael G. Ryschkewitsch, chairman of NASA's Mishap
> Investigation Board,
> said engineers assembling the Genesis probe more
> than four years ago were
> misled by errors in designs prepared by
> Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp.
> "The drawings are not correct," Ryschkewitsch said.
> The Genesis setback came five years after the Mars
> Climate Orbiter
> apparently vanished into space or burned up in the
> Martian atmosphere after
> Lockheed Martin engineers incorrectly programmed it
> with English rather than
> metric units.


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