CNC Induction Process

Good evening all,

After a lot of discussion, the CNCtechs are considering testing out a new induction process. Here’s what we consider the properties of a good system:

  • Users who have been waiting to be inducted get prioritized
  • Wait-lists should contain those who are willing to attend inductions
  • Newer users know where they stand in the wait-list
  • Users can roughly anticipate when their turn will come up
  • Times when one must check Discourse are discoverable via @metions and planned with plenty of warning
  • Being first to see things on Discourse is not necessarily rewarded

To that end, we hope to end up with a system very similar to what we currently use:

  • There is a central wait-list for an induction, linked from the tools it covers
  • The wait-list is sorted oldest to newest
  • Roughly two weeks ahead of an induction, that wait-list is copied to a particular induction event, a question mark status added in front of each name
  • A cutoff time to reply is given (roughly one week later)
  • Each user is tagged in the post and should be notified. We should make enabling @ mention notifications part of our new members orientation.
  • Each user should change their question mark to either a Y or N for whether or not they can attend the induction
  • After the cutoff, the top n users are asked to confirm by the same time the next day that they are able to attend
  • If any spots remain, they are offered to those who have checked they could attend, in list order. This is done in a single batch.
  • After the induction takes place, all the members who did not reply are removed from the list

The last point is of course worth discussing. The CNCtechs have committed to running two inductions a month and have successfully started in December. What we’ve found is the last person on the list is often offered a spot. This doesn’t mesh well with a couple properties of our ideal system. We believe that an active, equitable list would allow those that take a break from the Makespace to quickly jump back in. We intend to reach out directly to each member affected by these changes to the CNCers wait-list to ease the transition and give them a chance to remain on the list. Running an experiment inherently means we have multiple simultaneous systems but we believe, based on the years of feedback on inductions (including before COVID), that we haven’t yet found the best system for us.

Other discussions have included whether project based inductions would be better. For CNC purposes, asking participants to bring a file of interest to cut to the induction serves that goal but I believe we can address that issue separately.

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Quick comment.from me: I’d love to be inducted, but I don’t have the time right now to do the prep beforehand (and crucially for me, to put in time on the CNC in the days directly after induction to cement the knowledge)

Looks like @woodtechs and @lasertechs are experimenting with using this same system. Lets use this topic to discuss feedback, troubleshoot issues, and provide a place for discussion. I think it would be good to get some more real experience with the system this month and then decide if we want to adopt it as our standard process.

Tagging the others techs:

@CNCtechs
@metaltechs
@lathetechs
@3dtechs
@silkscreentechs
@textilestechs
@electrotechs

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So just in the interest of completeness. What does “people not liking it” look like? Who would they complain to and how? Would they just quit? I just want to get ahead of that question in order to measure effect from now

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Hi Amit!

The point of inductions is to get members safely making on the tools! The process needs to support that - so ‘not liking’ means the process is somehow not fit for purpose, or too much work for the techs & members, or maybe somehow inherently unfair…

The process is up for discussion before we make changes to it that’s all…

Cheers,
Andy

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I think feedback from those affected by the system is actually most directly captured (from CNC’s experiment). We have not heard from those on the wait list (who stand to benefit most). Each person removed was messaged and several of them replied with (mostly positive) feedback.

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My feeling is that the “bring a project” element raises an expectation of personal attention that will be hard to meet. For me, the volume of health and safety info, plus the startup, usage and cleanup info is already a lot for people to absorb.

I would like to offer a laser workshop day to follow the inductions.
On that day, people can bring their projects and get support from other users (much like the Electronics Evenings).
At the very least, everyone can do a basic project to reinforce the induction learning.

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Good points - the other problem with ‘bring your own project’ is you don’t know what you don’t know! In many case a member may not even know what is possible to do on a tool like the CNC and what is not possible.

Once you have the induction I think bringing a project to work on is way more practical- and learning the tool inspires and empowers you to use it!

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I’m wondering if the concept of what some are suggesting as project-based inductions hasn’t been communicated very well

Pretty much everything we do at SLMS is a project, and that’s how many of us learn best: having a thing we want to make and working out how on earth to make it

With us being a project based organisation then it seems like a good idea on completing an induction to then do something with that knowledge very soon after to cement it in – this comes from years of experience of members ‘collecting’ inductions and for one reason or another never using the machine or area they are inducted in,
or asking for refreshers because the knowledge faded/was never embedded. This is really not a good use of anyone’s time

Demonstrating you can follow and repeat back instructions during an induction and the thought and planning needed to use a machine to make something have quite a few differences, and it’s been suggested that there’s an invisible barrier for many members in going from induction to making

So two project based induction ideas have been put forward with the idea they give ownership to the inductee and get over that ‘first project’ barrier

  • members bring a project and indicator guides them through and induction geared to that project…for example if several members wanted to make coffee tables in the woodshop

  • members attend an induction but have a ‘provisionally inducted’ timeframe afterwards (perhaps 2 weeks) to complete a self-chosen project and share pictures/story of it, after which they count as fully inducted

The second seems to put least burden on inductors or change the process (except for checking on the projects) and gives an impetus to book the space and really get into the tool you were inducted on…and have an ‘I made this’ photo on Discourse

Couldn’t merge the PM thread - so here is additional discussion on this topic:

https://discourse.southlondonmakerspace.org/t/cnc-induction-process-discussion/20405

Also: the ‘have a project’ suggestion is not to make extra work for inductors (it’s not meant to be much more than a member making a post showing the thing they’ve made and inductor giving final sign off after that), and it really does come from multiple techs feeding back that they spend time inducting members who never show up and make anything – this likely happens to different degrees on different tools, but the woodlathe was an example where an excellent and in-depth induction led to only about 1 in 15 members returning to make stuff…so in that area a real issue to tackle, and disappointing for inductors. The time-consuming solution that was suggested was more hosted sessions for newbies, and the time-efficient one was ‘deliver a project soon after induction’

Yes, I realise we’ve veered off topic (but @Kyle did mention it at the end of the OP)

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I just wanted to add what I feel is a key point:

Members agreed to the waitlists specifically to make it fairer for those who either don’t have regular internet access (or prefer to only check Discourse occasionally, or stay way from it due to a dislike of internet forums etc)

The experience was that a ‘first come first served’ induction would be announced and filled before they’d seen it, and it was a form of digital divide

The proposed process seems to require even greater Discourse engagement from members (suggesting that @member_name email alerts need to be turned on for CNC inductions, and a week to respond to messages for example), which is at odds with what our understanding of what members wanted and agreed

I also feel the trial showed that perhaps an occasional clear out is useful (the first one apparently was successful?), but the second round ended up removing six members all of whom have asked to be returned to the list (so no measurable gain for use of time and energy) . It looks like the current CNC list is a true reflection of members interested in being inducted on the CNC, and as someone pointed out: ‘how likely is it that a member would change their mind after signing up to a waitlist?’

Yes, I think the intention is good, but the implementation needs work. Almost immediately after introduction in early 2017 it has had issues ever since… and purging the waitlists is not a new issue for example:

We need to change the process to make both techs and members happy and ensure we get members inducted efficiently especially as we ramp up post covid. Now, let’s consider the trial discussed here (removal after every induction) closed and we will try something different to manage waiting lists and get inductions moving.

The other issue is the confusion of waiting list handling being different across the areas of the space. So after speaking to some of the other current inductors we are going to organise a meeting to define a new trial process that is consistent across all the areas and will hopefully improve the experience for both members and techs.

Stay Tuned!

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I love the idea of “your induction isn’t complete until you complete a project”. I did a laser project right away after my induction, but have yet to do a project on the CNC mill… and if I delay much further I will for sure forget some of the stuff I learned.

But then the question becomes one of practicality… I would need to have tool control right after my induction in order to make my project at a later time (or schedule someone with tool control to be there to let me in under their approval… which is also problematic)… so would I get tool control AND THEN get induction signoff? It might be easier to perhaps say “you’re fully inducted, but you’re expected to complete a project within X weeks after your induction or you’ll lose your right to use the machine”?

So then we wouldn’t be asking people in advance whether they have a project or not… we straight up inform them that “a project” is expected in order to continue enjoying access to the tool. I think there’s ample precedent in didactic theory to substantiate that position, no?

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Further to Kyle’s post, the below text outlines a slight change to how we handle inductions.

Inductions have sucessfully restarted in lots of areas in the Makerspace. Gathering the folks running inductions from the woodshop, cnc, laser, and 3d printing, we would like to propose a modified induction process we hope will work well for both inductees and inductors.

It’s important to recognize that inductors give many hours a month on top of other Makerspace duties to help getting folks safely trained on tools. (Those are not just the hours spent doing the actual inductions but admin, planing and improving inductions). To keep them doing what they do best, getting folks making, we need to ensure we build a smooth process. To that end, we have come up a “three strikes system”. We strongly believe that induction waitlists are for those who are willing to get inducted (at the time they add themselves to the list) given the opportunity.

When a member does not respond to an induction session within the week notification period, they will have an X added after ther name in the waitlist. After 3 occurrences, they will be removed from the waitlist. They can add themselves back to the end of the list if they would like. We will message people when they receive their first strike.

Reasons for this system:

  1. Members will know their place in the list in relation to the people with x’s.
  2. It will help inductors know how many names to pull over when using the main list for induction calls.
  3. It will control the length of the waiting list. Seeing your name at number 65 on the list might be disheartening for a new member that is keen to get going. (Using 65 as a worst case scenario).
  4. Once the process is documented and written onto discourse. New members will only know this system and have to work within these constraints. This will help with blow-back from members, if any, giving the inductors a process to point towards.

Reasons against this system:

  1. Members are on waiting lists because they want an induction and removing them isn’t fair.
  2. If the process is confusing or poorly communicated, we run the risk of people getting angry that they were removed.
  3. If there are three inductions in a space of 10 days, if a member is away or has a reason not to check discourse for half a month, they will be removed from the list.

Always happy to take thoughts on the above as we put this into practice in the upcoming inductions.

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Whilst great in theory there are a few drawbacks to the ‘must have project’ angle:

1- it is still perfectly possible to do an induction, do a single project and still end up just as rusty on tool operation as time passed.
2- would be a drag on induction throughput
3- I suspect would see a number of ‘minimal’ projects being proposed to clear the hurdle by people who a) either have no project planned or b) have a project planned but it is dependent on other tool inductions also coming up. I certainly have a few ‘to do’ items waiting on larger wood working tool inductions happening.

An alternate approach might see the ‘project needed’ sign off kept for only the tools where it adds significant value (i.e. tool has a higher risk of personal injury or expensive damage to tool). And/or those tools induction could include a practical element, ideally something that can be inexpensively completed with scrap or low cost materials and was deliberately designed to test a range of basic competency on the machine.

(This was the approach to workshop tool use back in my student days, here is the tool -> brief on safety, now go follow these instructions and make X on it in your own time and show it to me at the end, you were then good to do other stuff with the equipment)

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yeah, it doesn’t have to be “their” project. I also had to build a known project when I did workshop back in school.

I’m just abiding by the whole “see one, do one (teach one)” method of didactic theory. So they should complete SOME project quickly after.

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