Any faculty member, student, postdoctoral fellow, visiting
scientist or research staff at Middle Tennessee State University
may be a user of the MIMIC. Collaborators or other guests
may also use the Center if time is available. Users fall
into two categories:
- Independent Operators
Researchers whose work requires the
use of one or more of the microscopes (instruments) and the
support equipment are encouraged to become qualified operators
of the instruments and to do their own work.
- Occasional Users
Researchers who have only a limited need
for the facilities of MIMIC may arrange with the Technical
Manager for all or portions of the work to be performed by
MIMIC technicians, on a time available basis.
Requirements and Privileges for Independent Users
To become an independent instrument operator, a researcher
must be certified by the MIMIC Director (or a designate)
that he/she is qualified to operate a particular instrument.
Certification based on user experience and demonstrated ability
to operate the instrument. All users are expected to follow
Center policies and MIMIC User Procedures.
Certified operators will be classified as follows:
Users in training may use the instrument during the
regular operating hours of the MIMIC only under the supervision
of an instructor designated by the MIMIC Director.
- Assisted Operator
Day operators may use the instrument without
direct supervision during the regular operating hours of MIMIC
when a staff professional is in the Center. In general, day
operators will be expected to demonstrate an ability to operate
the instrument properly and to understand instrument operation
well enough to recognize problems when they arise and to seek
help in solving the problem.
- Unassisted Operator
Unassisted operators may use the instrument
at any time and will be authorized by the MIMIC Director to
have a key or code to the facility. Operators in this category
will be expected to be familiar enough with the operation of
the instrument and will have demonstrated to the satisfaction
of the MIMIC Director that they can be trusted with the responsibility
of operating the instrument without supervision.
Although experienced users may be familiar with maintenance
and trouble-shooting on MIMIC instruments, the MIMIC management
asks that the Technical Director Technical Manager be involved
in any repairs. Most instruments have service contracts that
will allow for professional technical help with serious problems.
In order to train new operators in the use of the instruments
and other facilities in MIMIC, the MIMIC staff and its associated
faculty will offer instruction and training of various types
that are designed to meet the varied needs of potential users
of the MIMIC. Our philosophy is that is it much better and
more efficient to have users doing their own measurements
than to ask a technician or director to do the work. Training
to faculty and staff of the University is free; students
are expected to take courses for credit. The types of instruction
now include the following:
- Short, Intensive Training in Instrument Operation
This training is intended to teach the fundamentals of instrument operation
and is designed for users who have already learned or are learning
the basics of specimen preparation for their particular interest
area. It is primarily intended for faculty, postdoctoral researchers,
and some graduate students who have neither the time nor the
need for a more formal course. Introductory training will be
offered as needed by the MIMIC staff to from one to three individuals
at a time. Interested persons should make arrangements for
such training with the MIMIC Technical Manager.
- Courses in Microscopy for Academic Credit
These courses are intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students who
wish to learn microscopy as a research tool. Faculty members
of the various academic departments are encouraged to organize
and to teach such courses that cover specific methodological
needs of their disciplines. New courses should be coordinated
with the MIMIC Technical Director. As part of these courses,
the MIMIC Technical Manager will be available to assist in
or to carry out hands-on instruction in the use of specific
instruments and MIMIC facilities. Arrangements for instrument
time needed and expendable supplies for such courses must be
made in advance with the MIMIC Technical Manager.
- Other Training
Various courses, training sessions, workshops and symposia may be offered from
time to time, especially in the summer.
To defray costs of service contracts, supplies, replacement
equipment, and repairs necessary to keep the Center running,
time on all instruments in MIMIC will be charged to users
according to an hourly fee schedule. The exception is for
instruments purchased with federal funding for instructional
use, which is free to internal users during the grant period.
Fees differ for internal and external users, and extra costs
are associated with samples run and/or prepared by a technician.
- Self service
Assisted and unassisted operators using the instrument
are subject to internal, consulting, or external user fees.
- Technician service
Users who require the technician to run or prepare samples for them will be
charged technician fees in addition to instrument time.
Learners who take more than 4 supervised sessions to become
assisted operators will be charged for technician time or be
asked to take a formal course.
- Students Enrolled in Instrumentation Courses
While taking an instrument course, students may use that instrument without
additional charges, provided that course time limits are not
exceeded and excessive supplies are paid from another source.
Available Technician Services
- External Users
Most external users will gain access to the
Center through samples prepared and/or run by the technician.
The option for remote access is also available for SEM/EDX
and TEM. This must be arranged through the Technical Manager.
TEM is not available to commercial users until Fall 2010.
- Internal Users
If a technician runs and/or prepares samples,
technician fees apply and samples are run in order of receipt
as time is available.
Funding for MIMIC Users
For short-term instrument use, consult your Department Chair
for financial support (based on the project estimate) and
a departmental charge number.
Instrument time for extended projects in excess of the number
of hours your department is willing to support is available
through internal funding programs such as the FRCPC
or external funding programs. The Center plans to offer user time grants.
One example of this is grants of time for faculty developing
courses or applications/lab experiments using MIMIC equipment.
Loss of MIMIC Privileges
Until certified as a qualified operator, a user should not
attempt to use a microscope unless he/she is taking a training
course and is being directly supervised by a MIMIC technician.
Use by a non-certified operator will result in loss of use
of the facility.
A certified operator who is observed by a MIMIC technician
or a MIMIC Director not following proper protocol, not correctly
using an instrument, or using an instrument for which he/she
has not been certified, will have his/her qualified status
revoked. If the user wants reinstatement as a certified operator,
he/she must go through the approval process again.