Metrology Education in the New Millennium
J. Lyle Bagley, Chair
Engineering and Industrial Technology Division
Tidewater Community College
1700 College Crescent
Virginia Beach, VA 23456-1999
Voice: (757) 822-7198 fax: (757) 822-7334 email@example.com
The metrology community has agreed for years on the need for systematic training in metrology.
Where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going? Pockets of training in the
military still exist, and some private sector companies have developed training courses using a
variety of media. A few colleges and vocational training institutions have taken on the challenge,
but demonstrating economic benefits of these programs remains a struggle. Is there really a need
for formal, comprehensive metrology education, or should on-the-job training suffice for private
industry and the military? If it is needed, then who are the customers and are there enough of
them to warrant the cost of maintaining a comprehensive metrology education system? What
methods of instructions should be used and how can the cost effectiveness be optimized? This
paper reports the results of a study of these and related questions as well as action taken at
Tidewater Community College in response to the results.
From Past to Present
The U. S. Military played a prominent role in the advent of metrology training, particularly in the
dimensional measurements made by machinists and others that serviced measuring instruments.
After the beginning of World War II the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) designated
personnel qualified in instrument repair as “Special Artificer Instrument” (SAI) to offer a
promotion path to machinist mates who staffed instrument shops. Prior to that, in order to
advance in rate, these personnel had to be qualified in engineering, after which they were
reassigned and often lost their instrument skills. In 1943, two specialized formal courses of
instruction were established: (1) repair of watches and clocks and (2) repair of typewriters.
The U. S. Navy established the rating of Instrumentman (IM) in 1947 (1) to install, test, calibrate,
overhaul, and repair such mechanical instruments as watches, clocks, office machines, gages,
and meters; and (2) to repair mechanical parts of electrical measuring instruments. As
equipment became more sophisticated, training in the various branches of the military became
crucial to proper operation and maintenance, and formal military metrology schools began to
evolve. For example, the U. S. Air Force began its metrology training program at Lowry Air
Force Base in 1959.2
?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
Around 1961, the Navy Metrology Engineering Center at Pomona, CA offered metrology
courses in most measurement disciplines. After the mid-sixties, a Tri-Services agreement 3provided for gradual consolidation of the courses at Lowry. Such military training 4organizations remained the main source of metrology training from the 60’s through the 80’s. 5Other training has been carried on at military bases at San Diego and Norfolk.
As documented in the Navy film entitled Why Calibrate, calibration is an important part of
6effective delivery of weaponry. Comprehensive calibration programs evolved in all branches of
the armed services (e.g., the U.S. Navy METCAL Program). Calibration laboratories sprouted
up all over the world, and it became obvious that not only would standards laboratories be
required to support the calibration laboratories, but also a system for training metrology
personnel was vital to the success of the program. Numerous military schools came into being
and utilized the NAVAIR 17-35QAL-SERIES training manuals. These schools trained military
and civil service personnel in the calibration of assets in the Navy’s inventory and the associated,
basic theory. Schools were held at a variety of sites including the Naval Plant Representative
Office in Pomona, CA, and Lowry Air Force Base.
As time passed, and DOD budgets shrank, consolidations eliminated the schools at Pomona and
Lowry, and only the school at Keesler Air Force Base remains today.7 However, the need for
metrologists has continued to rise as evidenced by the DACUMs held to develop metrology
curricula, and increasing needs in the private sector with the advent of ISO Guide 25 and ISO 9000 series.
The size of military metrology training community, while still a significant presence at Keesler Air Force Base, which also maintains marine and navy metrology schools, seems to have
diminished. This should pose no surprise, given the downsizing of the military and the
associated reduction in the number of assets and facilities. Metrology training, which is required to support private industry as well as the public sector, is now also provided to one degree or another by several commercial test equipment manufacturers, by some commercial training
providers, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and by a few colleges. This paper will focus on metrology curricula offered by colleges for academic credit.
The following colleges in 1999 provided degrees in metrology, or related degrees with
supporting metrology curricula:
? Butler County Community College, Butler, PA
? California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA
? Community College of Aurora, Aurora, CO
? Fleming Institute for Training in Metrology, Sir Sanford Fleming College, Ontario,
? Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson, MN
? Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI
? McComb County Community College, Warren, MI
? Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood, SC
? Rock Valley College Technology Center, Rockford, IL
? Sinclair Community College, Dayton OH
? Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach, VA
? University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC ?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
9While some colleges are expanding metrology offerings even into graduate school, some
schools have difficulty recruiting enough students to justify continuation of metrology 10programs.
Several sources were used in the research of future needs and trends in metrology training:
? Results of the DACUM in Metrology of 1996
? A survey instrument
? Trends in college training
? Discussion with experienced metrologists by email, telephone, and interview.
The paragraphs below elaborate on the methods used and provide the information gleaned from
The 1976 National Science Foundation Metrology DACUM
A group of fourteen metrologists from all over the United States met for three days in Aurora,
Colorado to identify the competencies required of expert metrologists. This list was then used to
develop a list of knowledge in subjects that would constitute a metrology program. Members of
the group represented government, industry, and education experts in metrology and were led by
a professional facilitator. The principal “knowledges” identified by the DACUM as important
for expert metrologists are summarized below:
1. Mathematics: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, Graphing, Calculus
2. Physical Sciences: (Physics, Chemistry)
3. English: (Composition, Reading, Grammar, Technical Writing)
4. Computer Technology: Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Programming
B. Metrology Core
1. General Metrology: Measurement Principles, Uncertainty Analysis, Measurement
2. Administration: Laboratory Practices & Facilities, Ethics and Standards of Conduct,
Reports & Certificates, Training Documentation, Metrology Organizations
3. Safety: Laboratory, Chemical, Nuclear
4. Quality Control: Statistical Process Control, Measurement Assurance, Round Robins
and Correlation Programs, ISO Guide 25 (now 17025), ANSI/NCSL Z-540
C. Metrology Specialty
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It would be difficult for a two-year metrology program to provide training for all of the topics above. A survey was taken to identify key interests, as described in the next section.
Metrology Training Preference Survey
The survey was designed to determine first if the respondent had any interest in training for self or employees. It then asked five broad questions and offered several selections to rate on a scale from 1 (least preferred) to 5 (most preferred). Questions with no response were assigned an interest level of 0. Questions 2 through 6 follow:
2. Which general subjects are of interest (techniques, management, QA, ISO Guide 25)
3. Which groups of measurement disciplines are of interest (mechanical, electronic, etc.)
4. Which topics in each measurement discipline are of interest (types of measurement,
instruments, methods, etc.)
5. What format of instruction do you prefer for courses (classroom, on-line, lab, credit,
6. What time frame do you prefer for courses (traditional 16-week, weekend, one-week,
Respondents’ identities and the organizations with which they affiliate will remain confidential; however, they clearly represented a cross-section of the metrology community including
experienced metrology managers, engineers, technicians, ISO 17025 assessors, and other
metrology-wise personnel from government, industry, and the military.
An average rating by all respondents (30 as of this writing) was computed for each selection under each question. The higher averages, 4 or higher, indicate intense interest or preference; a rating of 3 to 4 indicates a strong interest; a rating of 2 to 3 would imply a weak interest; a rating below 2 would imply little interest. The results of the survey are summarized in Table 1. The sum of ratings awarded from all respondents to each selection and the standard deviation of the selection’s ratings were also computed. High sums (greater than about 115) indicate intense interest or preference, and low standard deviations (less than about 1.15) imply strong agreement among respondents. The average overall rating is 3.5, the average sum is 99, and the average standard deviation is 1.4.
Some respondents “wrote-in” selections under a general subject, indicating a particular interest
in that subject; the results of these write-ins are summarized in Table 2. The most frequent write-ins involved training in measurement uncertainty, statistics and graphical techniques, and the use of CD ROM interactive media to allow for self-paced training. It should be noted that Tidewater Community College has acquired a substantial amount of interactive media for
integration into course curricula, including metrology. However, laboratory science and
technology typically require hands-on experimentation, even with the rise of simulation for laboratory work. For this reason, the CD-ROM was not listed as an independent option, but
rather was considered one of several media used in training. Several respondents, indicating a particularly strong interest in that discipline wrote in temperature measurement. More comments on both tables appear in the Conclusion paragraph.
Trends in College Training: Partnerships
?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
At a time of national downsizing, streamlining, and decreasing budgets, it is increasingly
difficult for colleges to invest a great deal of money in any programs. Technology programs like
metrology are among the most expensive due to the cost of the equipment required for
meaningful laboratory instruction. Note that “technology” here does not refer exclusively to the
use of computers; information technology may be the fastest growing technology, but it remains
only one of many others, such as electronics, industrial, mechanical, civil, metrology, and other
engineering technologies. The cost per full time equivalent student (FTE) is much higher for the
“technologies” than for liberal arts courses. For example, a class of 22 English students is far
less expensive to operate than a metrology laboratory with a dozen students using digital volt-
ohm-meters, spectrum analyzers, autocollimators, or platinum resistance thermometers and
bridges. Perhaps this is the reason for the high demand for technologists and engineers, and why
there is a shortage of them in the Commonwealth of Virginia and other states.
One solution to the funding, or the lack of it, seems to be in partnerships—with business,
industry, government, secondary schools and other colleges—to maximize the utilization of
scarce assets. The Community College of Aurora has been the fortunate beneficiary of military
assets at Lowry Air Force Base, which contributed a great deal of test equipment to the college.
Tidewater Community College has been fortunate to have received assets from the U.S. Navy,
the Marines, Boeing Aircraft Corporation, and other benefactors which have contributed assets
valued at dozens of times the annual budget of the Engineering and Technology Division.
Manufacturers will provide “gently-used” equipment and applications notes to the college; in return they will gain market exposure for their products with the buyers of tomorrow—the
students. Commercial Customers of the college who hire its products—graduates—provide
internships and exposure of students to their equipment and processes. In return, they gain a
look at the students in training, and lower cost labor while looking.
However, the benefits of partnership go far beyond donated assets. As Jim DeSanto cited at
NCSL in 1998, metrology professionals are a valuable source of expertise for metrology
12 Furthermore, “co-op” programs and internships in which jobs await graduates will attract students into the field of metrology. Well-timed tours of metrology
laboratories will augment the classroom, laboratory, and internet metrology experience. The
successful program will generate a continuous demand for courses and a continuous supply of
jobs for graduates.
Partnerships should extend in the other direction as well—to the public schools, as Barbara
Anderegg stated at NCSL in 1999. Program after program in the public schools has been closed
after failing to attract an adequate number of students. The metrology effort at Madison Area
Technical College sustained interest in some innovative ways, using two National Science
Foundation grants.13 Tidewater Community College has focussed on the now notorious
“Standards of Learning” [SOL], which hold students, teachers, principals, and school systems
accountable for student performance, and for now, require students to perform on standardized
14tests in order to graduate. One major topic in the SOLs is “measurement,” which poses a great
opportunity to link technology, metrology, and the public education system together in the
Trends in College Training: The Internet
One of the strongest trends for the future is in the internet. Seventy five percent of the students
polled in a graduate level metrology courses at California State University strongly agreed that
?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
15internet instruction is the wave of the future. As a result of an initiative by the TMDE
Program Manager for the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA, Tidewater
Community College has partnered with the Marines and the Navy toward a degree through
online study with a metrology specialization for Marine and Navy personnel. Credit will be granted for training received in the military, and special courses are designed to bridge the gap between the military training and the academic course requirements for the degree. An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree will be granted in one of several existing
technologies (electronics, industrial, or mechanical engineering technology) with a specialization in metrology engineering technology or quality assurance. The first of these to be available will be electronics, planned for spring of 2001.
The Seven Principles Of Good Practice applied to internet procedures by Chickering and
Ehrmann will be followed in online course delivery. 16 These principles hold that good practice:
1. encourages contacts between students and faculty
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3. uses active learning techniques
4. gives prompt feedback
5. emphasizes time on task
6. communicates high expectations
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning
Tidewater Community College has also partnered with Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, and Virginia Tech in the form of transfer programs and articulation agreements. In another unique partnership, the college will share a new 130,000 square foot Advanced Technology Center with the Virginia Beach Public Schools and the Virginia Beach Office of Economic Development. The Engineering and Industrial Technology Division, including its metrology program, will move into that building in early 2002.
Conclusion: Integration of the Metrology Program
One of the problems discussed among the colleges with a metrology program is the difficulty in sustaining a student body in the metrology department. In spite of the fact that measurement permeates every technical process in the industrialized world, the American public is still more familiar with “meteorology” than with metrology. The lack of familiarity in turn restricts demand for the subject. Another issue of concern is the large volume of competencies cited by the DACUM for expert metrologists. Adequate coverage of all of these competencies in a two-year program is difficult if not impossible. Thirdly, the narrow focus of metrology calls to question the versatility of a degree in metrology, at least in the perception of potential employers. Measurement is considered by some simply to be something one must do in the technologies. “If you understand the scientific principles of a technology,” they reason, “you should surely be able to measure the parameters in that technology, and measurement uncertainty is much ado about nothing.” Metrologists quickly recognize such logic as naïve. How, then, should a metrology program be structured to make it robust and self-sustaining, independent of “soft” grant funding
First, it is vital to recognize the importance of measurement as a complete process, including the concept of uncertainty analysis. In the words of “The Contrarian Metrologist,” Phil Stein, “The study of metrology (measurement science) is almost completely the study of uncertainty, how to
?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
17avoid it, how to minimize it, and how to quantify it.” Equally as important, just as voltage
measurement and the uncertainty in the measured value go hand-in-hand, so do voltage measurement and the field of electronics. It’s not a stretch to reach the conclusion that all three—
electronics, voltage measurement, and measurement uncertainty—are highly interrelated
concepts that should be integrated into the same program. The same relationship applies to every other measurement discipline, like liquid flow, and its parent, mechanical engineering technology.
The concept at Tidewater Community College is to integrate metrology into existing large programs as a specialization. For example, it will be possible to earn an AAS degree in electronics engineering technology with a specialization in metrology. Every electronics course will contain elements of measurement and uncertainty analysis, and uncertainty analysis will also be taught as a course. Each course will emphasize the associated topics of highest importance as identified in Table 1, and will employ the seven principles of Chickering and Ehrmann. This approach will bridge the gap between courses taken at other schools without adequate attention to uncertainty, and a strong metrology curriculum which emphasizes uncertainty analysis in every measurement. Graduates will have broad degrees in mechanical, industrial, or electronic engineering technology, with a metrology specialization. These degrees will have the versatility to stand alone in any job market, including metrology, and the student will be able to “hit the ground running” in any metrology or test laboratory environment.
A team of engineering and technology professors at Tidewater has commenced the preparation of online courses in metrology-related subjects. The first group of these is planned to be online in spring of 2001. Online course development will continue until degree requirements can be satisfied almost completely at remote sites, with substantial credit toward the degree awarded for work completed at military or other schools. Existing strong programs will grow and become stronger with the influx of metrology students, and filling metrology classes will not be a problem because they are integrated into existing courses.
Is there a need in America’s institutions of higher learning for formal, comprehensive metrology education? Ninety percent of the respondents to the survey taken in this project claim they need it. While not statistically infallible, the survey indicates a strong demand for metrology education. The wide variety of professions and organizations represented by the respondents implies that the customer base is broad. Certainly metrology laboratory technicians, engineers, managers, and ISO assessors from government, military, and private organizations are prime customers in the workforce; but so are teachers and students in the secondary school systems.
Strongly preferred subjects include calibration techniques, ISO accreditation, and metrology quality assurance, with particular attention to measurement uncertainty. The conventional electronic, physical and optical measurement disciplines were by far the top choices. Calibration methods, uncertainty, traceability, SPC and proficiency testing topped the list of topics to cover in each measurement discipline. A variety of instructional methods should be employed including online, in-lab, theory, and exercises, with interactive media such as compact discs. The demand seems greater for credit than for non-credit offerings just for Continuing Education Units. Ironically, respondents preferred both weeklong seminars and customary 16-week, nighttime classes to daytime or weekend arrangements; the prevalent opinion seemed to be, “I’ll
block out a week of time or give up my nights, but don’t interfere with my daytime routine for long or mess up my weekends.”
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The industry has reinforced its demand for metrology education, and institutions of higher learning will heighten their efforts to satisfy that demand. We hope that the new millennium will recognize metrologists as measurement scientists rather than weathermen.
?J. L. Bagley 4-20-2000
Table 1. Metrology Training Preference Survey Results
1. Are you interested in metrology training for either yourself or your employees?
Interested in Metrology Training? Average Sum Yes 0.90 27 No 0.10 3
2. What general subjects are of interest? Average Sum Stdev Calibration Techniques in each Measurement Discipline 4.45 129 0.99 ISO 17095 and Guide 25 [Accreditation] 4.28 124 1.13 Quality Assurance in Metrology 4.03 117 1.05 Metrology Laboratory Management 3.38 98 1.50
3. What groups of measurement disciplines are of interest? Average Sum Stdev Electronic/Electrical Measurement 4.34 126 1.40 Physical/Mechanical Measurement 4.26 123.5 1.33 Optical/Electro-Optical Measurement 3.34 97 1.80 Chemical Metrology 1.45 42 1.86 Pharmaceutical Metrology 1.14 33 1.62
4. What topics should be covered in each measurement discipline? Average Sum Stdev Calibration/Measurement Methods 4.86 141 0.35 Measurement Uncertainty Analysis Associated with Each 4.62 134 1.01 Establishing Traceability by Chain of Calibrations 4.48 130 1.09 Technical Principles of Each Calibration/Measurement Method 4.38 127 1.08 Types of Measurements Made in the Discipline 4.34 126 1.11 Maintaining Traceability with SPC & Proficiency Testing 4.17 121 1.39 Uncertainty Budgets for Selected Processes 4.14 120 1.48 Types of Instruments Used for Each Measurement 3.97 115 1.40 Conversions between Traditional & International Systems 3.41 99 1.32 Related Activities at NIST 2.86 83 1.53 Manufacturers of Each Type of Instrument 2.10 61 1.29
5. What format of instruction would you prefer? Average Sum Stdev On-Line credit courses over the internet 3.4 100 1.66 Hands-on training mostly in lab 3.4 99 1.52 Conventional credit courses in a college class/laboratory 3.0 88 1.84 Mostly theory and exercises 3.1 86 1.27 Conventional credit courses taught at your site 2.9 85 1.93 Non-credit course with Contin Education Units (CEU’s) 2.6 74 1.70
6. In what time frame would you prefer that the course be taught? Average Sum Stdev Week-long seminar, 40 contact hours 3.38 88.00 1.58 Nighttime customary 16-week session, 3 hours per week 3.15 82.00 1.76 Weekends over an 8-week period 6 hours per weekend 2.54 66.00 1.88 Daytime customary 16-week session, 3 hours per week 2.42 63.00 1.79
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Table 2. Metrology Training Preference Survey
2. What general subjects are of interest? Average Sum Stdev Others? Please add. Measurement Uncertainty 4.43 31 0.53 Statistics & graphical techniques 4.00 8 0.00 Test laboratory 5.00 5 Interval Determination 2.00 2 Calibration Requirements for ISO 9000 2.00 2
3. What groups of measurement disciplines are of interest? Average Sum Stdev Others? Please add. Temperature Measurements 4.38 17.5 Physical 5.00 10 Dimensional 5.00 5 Laboratory Instrument Qualification 5.00 5 Pressure Measurements 5.00 5 Measurement Uncertainty 5.00 5 Electromedical Equipment 5.00 5 Telecom physical layer 5.00 5
4. What topics should be covered in each measurement discipline? Average Sum Stdev Others? Please add. Measurement uncertainty & relationship to Loss Function 5.00 10 Statistical analysis of measurement systems 5.00 5 Integrated Meas Assurance in all types of training 5.00 5 Types of Standards available and sources 5.00 5 Use of software to manage gage calibration & control systems 4.00 4 Metrological Standards and history 3.00 3
5. What format of instruction would you prefer? Average Sum Stdev Others? Please add. 1.00 1 Self-paced modules on CD Rom 5.00 15 On-site tech assistance 5.00 5 Combination lab and theory 5.00 5 Combination of on-line or CEU classroom study with practical lab 5.00 5 exercises
6. In what time frame would you prefer that the course be taught? Average Sum Stdev Self paced on CD ROM 5.00 10 Combination of online and classroom, 8 week sessions. 5.00 5 Any time--web based online 5.00 5
8 Week session, 2 nights a week (3 hrs/night) 4.00 4
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