Science for Non-Science

Many readers are most probably aware of a training session named: Finance for Non-Finance. This is usually provided by companies for their non-finance middle and top management, with the declared purpose of ensuring that everybody understands the fundamentals of the finance world. After completing this training, everybody would be able to understand how the operation profit, trade working capital, or return of investment is calculated, but also find their ways through the swamp of acronyms: EPS, TWC, DPO, DSO  etc. This is not for somebody looking to apply for a financial role. It is for those working with the finance people, helping them to understand financial reports and to have a coherent dialog with the finance department.

But the finance department is not the only one buried under complex notions, formulas, and acronyms. I may say that it is quite common to encounter the same situation – some time even worse – in  technology or R&D departments. Over the years, I have witnessed many situations where the communication between R&D people on one side, and marketing, sales, or human resources people on the other side, was difficult, and quite often end up with confusion. Then, it crossed my mind: why not having some Science for Non-Science training? Why not providing the non-science employees with the fundamentals of the scientific domains they have to interact with or represent.

Of course, the science world is a bit more diverse than the finance word. So, I would think there has to be a specific training for each scientific domain. For instance: Chemistry for Non-Chemists, or Physics for Non-Physicists. There are a couple of key elements for the success of such approach:

  • The training material has to to developed by an expert in the scientific field to ensure that information is scientifically correct.
  • The developer has to work together with non-scientific people to identify which notions are relevant and which are not.
  • The training material has to be adapted to the audience, easy to follow and concise.
  • The trainer – which might not necessarily be the developer of the training – has to have experience both in the respective scientific domain and in audience’s activity fields.
  • And, of course, the trainer has to have exceptional teaching skills.

Taking this idea to a practical implementation I started to develop it into the domain that is very close to me: fiber amplifiers and lasers. So under the logo: Science for Non-Science, I started a series of presentations that describes the fundamentals of lasers, optical fibers and their applications. My approach is to focus on the phenomena, eliminate almost entirely the mathematics, and use as much as possible graphics and animations.

In the 22 mins of the: Understanding Lasers – Part 1 I cover the fundamental physical phenomena of the laser effect: absorption, emission, population inversion. Some common acronyms are deciphered: ESA, ASE. You can see it here or on YouTube.

The second part will show how optical amplifiers, ASE sources and lasers are built, function as well as describing their technical and commercial parameters. The following  presentations will move the discussion towards optical fibers, and their use into the world of optical amplifications and lasing.

Is this a good idea? Is there something I missed or you simply you would like me to add? Don’t hesitate to comment this article or write me about it!

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