As I write this it has been a week since I returned from eighteen days on the Greenland ice sheet. My toes have nearly defrosted and thoughts of Greenland’s ice-cold beauty, dreams of helicopter rides, and the taste of Ryvita for lunch still haunt me.
I am writing this on the way home after a successful eighteen days working on the Greenland ice sheet.
“Do I count as a technician?” I was asked this question by someone wanting to join the Technicians’ Network. As we are an inclusive group I said “Of course you can join, the more the merrier” and so avoided the question as I didn’t have an answer. In an attempt to find one I decided to set about inventing a test to answer this question once and for all.
In a conversational lull at a recent dinner party a neighbour asked me, “So, what do you do for a job?”
The role and status of the science technician has followed many of the twists and turns of the history of science and society. Technicians have historically been both servants and invisible experts, not only understanding but also possessing a ‘feel’ for machine or process; translating and acting on every output, be it the reading on a dial, a sound, or a smell. In more recent years to become a technician has meant joining a profession, a vocation with training and a professional body; however, the characterisation as servant-expert is one I think many would still recognise.
Originally published at Leeds.ac.uk on 01 February 2016 Welcome to Technically Speaking, a newsletter written by technicians, for technicians. The … More
Originally published at Leeds.ac.uk on 28 July 2016 For me, helping others is what makes my job as a technician worthwhile. … More