Evaluation Criteria

How do you evaluate a complex problem like selecting the site for a billion-dollar telescope? Here we will use an important tool developed and used by engineers: the Problem-Solving Matrix. In this case, there are three potential observatory sites to evaluate and five summary specifications for each site: 1) Light pollution, 2) Seeing, 3) Weather, 4) Geography, and 5) Logistics.

The problem-solving matrix for this problem looks like this (download print version below):

image of evaluation matrix

Within this module, information and data are provided for each site, and each site is discussed so that you may evaluate each specification. Even though more complicated criteria might be used (you might want to develop your own), here each specification will be rated on a simple scale:

Poor = 1, Fair = 2, Good = 3, Excellent = 4

Use the data sheets provided on the Research Challenge (please link) page for each site as a check list of all the items you need to consider, and rate each specification. Then calculate an average for each of the five major specifications, and record the number in the Site Selection Evaluation Matrix (download below). Note that the ratings can and should be different for some of the items for the two challenge problems you have been given.

Once you have entered the ratings for each of the five major specifications, simply add up the ratings. The site with the highest score is the best choice!

However, be ready to defend your individual ratings! Your instructor will ask you to defend your choices in a report: either written and/or orally in front of competing selection teams who may challenge your results.

If you choose to try the Going Farther Challenge, download the “Going Farther Evaluation Matrix” below.

Do your best!

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