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Ron Rode


Puzzled by Metrology?

Published: Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 14:33

“So what’s the weather gonna do today?” I am sure that we have all been asked that after answering the first question (about what we do for a living) with: “Metrology.”

Metrology or meteorology? Both are studies of a particular science but are two words that are easily mistaken or misinterpreted. (Any GDT situations come to mind here?) These two occupations seem like worlds apart, but actually they share a common up-front task, and that is data collection. Whether you are trying to determine if it’s going to rain or snow, or if a newly produced part is within its allowable tolerance, you must first collect as much data as accurately as possible to analyze, and then come to a prediction or determination. Fortunately for meteorologists, they can make some mistakes (and in all likelihood will do so), but they will still be able to keep their jobs. However, mistakes for metrologists could signal the need to start looking for a new job!!

So what does it take to become a good, respected, and certified metrologist or meteorologist? Again, many similarities exist here as well. Like any profession, you must have a good basic understanding, through education, in that particular field. Then you must gain experience. You must work in, or practice, that profession. Many times it is through an internship, apprenticeship or strict curriculum. Once you have achieved the preceding goals, then it is time to graduate or become certified.

Well then, this is where the puzzle becomes... cloudy! There are many institutions at which to achieve an education and ultimately a degree or certification in meteorology. Metrology, on the other hand, is not so cut and dried. Up until recently, the only method in which to be educated in PCMM metrology was the “shade tree mechanic” approach—by teaching yourself or being fortunate enough to be paired with someone else who mentored you. Some college programs, such as engineering, provide students with a limited exposure to metrology, but it is more of an overview and not enough to really get to the nuts and bolts of it all. Happily, now there are some institutions that have delved deeper into metrology and do provide more education on this topic. But it is still not enough. There is still a lot of knowledge metrologists can acquire by themselves toward their goals of being certified. This is the first piece of the puzzle.

Now comes the second piece of the puzzle. Where do you get experience? For most of us, if we are pursuing more education in metrology, then we probably already work in that field. For those who don’t, that is where you need to be. Practice, practice, practice. (Redundancy! Ha, that’s not a weather term!) This is especially true in this field. Like all true professions, this experience is something that just takes time. It is not a rush project or something that once you have had some training, you can feel that you know it all or should even consider yourself a metrologist. Experience simply comes with hours clocked in the trade. In this era of declining apprenticeships toward skilled trades, this is one field of skill and excellence where an apprenticeship should be a requirement.

Now that you have acquired the first two pieces of the puzzle, it’s time to make it complete and be able to proudly, and confidently say, “I am a certified PCMM operator.” There are many different types of PCMMs, and each one requires its own expertise. Thus, each one is a specialty field all its own. Some metrologists will learn to operate only one piece, maybe because that’s the only PCMM they own or have access to. Others may be required to operate a multitude of different PCMMs.

With this in mind, I’m happy to say that through the CMS, actual certification of articulated arm PCMMs operators is now a reality. This certification was launched at this year’s Coordinate Metrology Society Conference (CMSC) in Charleston, South Carolina, this past July. This is where the metrology puzzle comes together. During the CMSC, there are numerous opportunities for to sit in on presentations, seminars, and workshops that cover the gamut from principle and theory, all the way through to practical applications. At the Measurement Zone you can immerse yourself in e-learning, hands-on workshops, and practical applications as well as test your ability to apply your skills in competition. In the near future there will also be certification for other PCMMs, such as laser trackers and others.

Education, experience, or certification. Whatever piece of the puzzle you’re missing, the Coordinate Metrology Society will help you to bring it all together! Visit our website at www.CMSC.org.


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.



Metrology School

I was amazed that you did not mention the Air Force PMEL school in Denver. I attended PMEL school while on active duty on the Marine Corps in 1976. PMEL school was the only formal schooling in Metrology until Butler COunty Community College started their program.