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Ron Rode


The “Light of My Life”: World Metrology Day Sheds Light On Industry Advances

Published: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 12:51

Yesterday, May 20, 2015, we celebrated World Metrology Day. This is an annual commemoration of the signature by representatives of seventeen nations attending the Metre Convention, which was held on May 20, 1875. This convention set the stage for global acceptance and collaboration for “Metrology,” the science of measurement and its uniformity throughout the world. The importance of this milestone event becomes increasingly more significant as the world truly becomes a global marketplace.

On Dec. 20, 2013, the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2015 as the “International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies.” The organizers behind World Metrology Day 2015 aligned with this global initiative and chose “Measurements and Light” as its theme.

These two topics seem a world apart, but in reality, they bring the world together. Light obviously plays a vital role in our lives, not just as sunlight and electrically generated light, but as a medium to perform and provide basic and advanced cutting-edge measurement capabilities. Without metrology, we have no means by which to research, to invent, to manufacture, or to ensure quality and accuracy even it its simplest forms.

Without the use of light embedded in metrology we have no means by which to sustain and advance as a society in science, engineering, manufacturing, and medicine, to name just a few of the disciplines that affect all of us daily. Light-based measurement has opened up and revolutionized nearly every aspect of global life, providing almost everybody on this planet with necessities, luxuries, and opportunities for a better and more productive life.

In the past three decades, we have seen an unheralded advancement in the use of light as a major component in three-dimensional portable metrology. Working as a metrologist during the past 25 years, I have been fortunate to use or see a great many of these system in action. Being a part of this phenomenal evolution, I have gained a personal perspective that allows me to have an immense and unparalleled appreciation for where we have come from and where we are now.

Progressing from the heyday of standard optics (this is what put a man on the moon!) to the current array of light-based measurement systems, we can now produce a three-dimensional image within seconds. In the past, only static measurements were the norm, and they took a great deal of time to accomplish. Today, dynamic measurements capture gigabytes of data and provide us with immediate information and instant feedback like something out of a Buck Rogers comic book or a Star Wars movie. These systems have forever altered the past pattern, manner, and timeframe in which an idea can evolve from a concept to a marketable product. These systems have also drastically improved our ability to inspect and diagnose existing articles, even including the location where the task can be accomplished!

Science and medicine have also realized the outstanding effect that light-based metrology has had on their professions. They can now perform once unthinkable research and aid individuals with disabilities, giving them previously unheard-of mobility and freedom. We can now create and fabricate devices and machines to perform life-saving operations when the doctor and patient may be hundreds of miles apart. The list of light-based metrology applications is endless and continues to grow on a daily basis.

The proliferation of these metrology systems has created exponential demand for certifiable operators and service companies. Unfortunately the demand will far exceed the availability in the near future. In the past, the majority of current users learned simply by “on-the-job training,” and this manner of learning does have some real advantages. However, many times the total wealth of knowledge is limited to the depth of the mentor and more information may be lost than passed on.

In recent years, academic institutions and universities have recognized the need to include metrology as a curriculum and a field of study. Interested individuals can now learn the “depth” of metrology and become informed of the many types, fields, and institutions that have a need for metrologists. With the ability to bolster their careers with certification credentials along the way, potential metrologists can steer their profession toward an interesting and rewarding path of life... and light.


About The Author

Ron Rode’s picture

Ron Rode

Ron Rode is the executive chairman of the Coordinate Metrology Society. E-mail him at chairman@cmsc.org.