Anyone who has visited Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Kalkara would agree that the science centre is a pretty awesome attraction for kids and adults alike – its exhibition halls and landscaped gardens house more than 200 exhibits that make Esplora an exciting science centre for all ages!
Have you ever wondered… who is responsible for the proper running and maintenance of the 200-or-so Esplora exhibits? Gadgets has spoken with Exhibits Maintenance Manager, Justin Camilleri, who works alongside an electrician and an assistant, to ensure that the science centre’s exhibits are always in proper working order.
The maintenance team ensures the proper running and maintenance of the exhibits
Justin explained that a typical day for him and his colleagues would start an hour before Esplora opens its doors to visitors.
“We start by powering up all the exhibits to be able to check their functionality. In doing so, we address any faults that would have been reported by our colleagues during the previous day.”
The maintenance team carries out any preventive maintenance in order to minimise faults and they also carry out tests to certify that the exhibits are electrically safe to be used by visitors.
As far as possible, Justin and his team also introduce modifications to the exhibits to reduce repetitive faults. In certain instances, they also consult with the manufacturer about certain faults or other issues that arise.
What type of training is required?
We asked Justin what kind of training one requires in order to do this type of job, and since most of the exhibits are electro-mechanical, he explained that one needs to have a good background of electronics, electrical and mechanical engineering.
Having a sound computer knowledge is also very important, and one also needs to be able to set up various electronic equipment and carry out repairs on projectors for instance. Something else that helps a great deal is to do some research on how the exhibits work in relation to physics principles.
And finally, training from the manufacturer provides further knowledge about specific aspects, but hands-on experience offers the best possible training as it helps one build confidence when it comes to specific repairs.
Some exhibits are purely mechanical, while others are computerised
Esplora’s 200+ exhibits include those related to space and the universe at the Planetarium building, as well as the outdoor exhibits. Some of the exhibits are totally mechanical, meaning they work without any computerisation, while others are linked to PCs, touchscreens, projectors and sensors.
Justin told us that the most challenging exhibits are those which use multiple projectors to create one picture. Such exhibits need a lot of calibration and patience. Additionally, some of these projectors are attached to the ceiling, so maintenance can be quite challenging at such heights.
“The Static Electricity exhibit located in the electricity gallery is my favourite. This exhibit is made up of basic parts which, when merged with physics, create an outstanding result once electrostatic charge is generated. This exhibit expresses physics to visitors beautifully and serves inquisitive students very well.”
Maintenance routines vary according to the different exhibits
When asked how often exhibits require maintenance, Justin said that this very much depends on the type of exhibit. Some exhibits require weekly attention due to refilling requirements (water or other liquids), and also draining of air systems to prevent water build-up.
Other exhibits require maintenance on a monthly basis – cleaning of filters and lubrication. A typical maintenance routine would involve cleaning the internal components, checking for any loose electrical connections and lubrication of moving parts. Once all this is done, the maintenance team checks that all parts are in place, secure and functioning properly.
Science is all around us and it’s great fun to work in this field!
Justin’s word of advice for anyone interested in such a career: “Science is all around us – the members of my team and I get to experience science closely on a daily basis. All I can say is that the world of science is a lot of fun and very rewarding. I encourage anyone interested in this type of career to visit the science centre to explore the various exhibits to see for themselves”.