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Randy Gruver


CMS Certification Committee Makes Gains in 2011

Published: Friday, August 19, 2011 - 09:17

The buzz surrounding the Coordinate Metrology Society’s (CMS) efforts to bring an industry-recognized certification to the profession of portable 3-D metrology was nearly as prevalent as the buzz about the temperature at this year’s Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC) in Phoenix. The CMS certification committee set a goal in 2009 to develop a personnel certification program, and this was our third opportunity to share progress with conference attendees. Our journey began with a vision and a request from industry to leverage the resources of the CMS membership to create a portable 3-D measurement systems personnel certification program.

Some history

The CMS is the preeminent organization dedicated to promoting portable 3-D technology. The 2011 CMSC was our 27th annual event, which is best described as a unique combination of trade show, expert technical presentations, and networking opportunities. The proliferation of close-tolerance, relatively large-volume portable 3-D measurement devices and software has benefited many sectors of manufacturing and inspection. Calibrated and certified measurement equipment is demanded, but what about the operator? The sophisticated capabilities of these products, and the variation that can be introduced by an operator, begs the question of operator competence. Aerospace, nuclear, and service-provider representatives have raised the issue of personnel certification to the CMS, and the committee responded with, “Maybe we could do this… but much investigation is needed.”

Our investigation began with a membership survey, where members were asked their thoughts. Conclusions of the survey results included:
• A portable 3-D metrology certification does not currently exist.
• A properly structured certification program would be of definite value.
• Currently, equipment must be calibrated; however, the operator, the greatest potential source of error, is not required to be certified.
• Certification should be multilevel to delineate the degree of capability and responsibility.
• Certification should indicate mastery of a core body of knowledge, with additional certifications for equipment and software.
• Hardware and software certification should demonstrate appropriate technical knowledge as well as proficiency.
• There should be certified examiners for each hardware group.
• There may be areas where certification would be application-specific.
• Eighty percent of respondents learned their skills through on-the-job, informal training.
• Thirty-five percent of professionals using these technologies have 20+ years of experience.
• Sixty percent of the survey respondents recommended a partnership with a compatible organization experienced in administering personnel certification.


Sufficiently empowered to move forward, the CMS executive committee established the certification committee as a standing committee. The journey began in earnest. We knew where we were, and where we needed to be, but unlike most journeys, we did not have a hard and fast route to get “there.” Committee members included dedicated volunteers whose day jobs include working for Boeing, Northrop Grumman, FARO Technologies, ECM Global Measurement Solutions, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the United Kingdom, and the National Research Council Canada (NRC). This dedicated group has drafted a core body of knowledge and initiated a request for information (RFI) to identify a partner organization to support our certification effort. In addition the committee supported a very popular Measurement Study workshop at our annual conference.

Last year at the CMSC, the NPL coordinated an interactive, large-scale gauge repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) study to examine measurement variability. The measurement study was well-received, and more than 200 attendees participated in the data collection. The program’s success prompted this year’s measurement study held in the conference’s exhibition hall. The results of this workshop provided evidence that supports the effects of operator input, or technique, on the outcome of measurement data. Well-intentioned participants were tasked with collecting data with minimal guidance, and observed by experts. Follow-on participants were observed and provided immediate feedback with the opportunity to minimize inconsistency. The net results have been eye-opening!

A certification milestone

I could go on about why the CMS should champion this effort, but if you are reading this article, you already know why. Our membership represents a broad spectrum of measurement specialists, hardware and software manufacturers and developers, as well as academics, service providers, and manufacturing and quality personnel. The certification committee’s members include representatives from most of our organizations’ demographic base, and we meet monthly to work toward our goal. CMSC 2011 marked a significant milestone for the committee because we introduced The American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) as our partner in personnel certification.

Because the CMS was once an active committee group within ASPRS, the ASPRS/CMS partnership is more like a family coming back together to tackle a challenge than a business relationship with a competing organization. The ASPRS has a long and successful record of administering professional personnel certifications and was deemed by the CMS executive and certification committees to be an excellent “fit” through an exhaustive and rigorous evaluation process.

Next steps

Formal documents defining the roles, responsibilities, authority, and accountability will be crafted and reviewed by each organization’s executive committees. With the relationship defined, a project plan can be crafted detailing the tasks that must ensue to support the official beginning of the program. The journey continues, but the GPS is programmed and with the destination in sight. An industry-recognized personnel certification in portable 3-D metrology that includes laser tracker, area scanners, laser radar, hand-held scanners, and data post-processing is going to be a reality.

You can learn more about our certification initiative and 3-D portable metrology at the 2012 CMSC, which will be held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, July 16–20. For more information on the conference and the CMS, please visit our website regularly.


About The Author

Randy Gruver

Randy Gruver, an employee development specialist at The Boeing Co., is the chair for the 2011 CMSC Certification Committee and has served on the committee for the past three years.