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Metrology Training at the Technical Education and Vocational Training Level


                                 Mohamed AICHOUNI                                      Mohamed BELEBNA

                             PhD, Assistant Professor                            Senior Engineer, Regional Director

                                   Hail College of Technology, KSA.                 National Office of Legal Metrology

                                   Email :                  Associate Professor at Mostaganem University, Algeria


      Paper Presented at : The 3rd Saudi Technical Conference and Exhibition, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

                                 28 Shawal – 4 Dhul-qaada 1425 H  ,  11- 15 December 2004

Power Point Presentation



Metrology is the science of measurements. Measurements are present in every aspect of our daily life. Specifically industry and trade rely heavily on measurements and metrology. These two concepts constitute the major components of quality systems. Within the highly competitive market which is characterized by globalization, industrial companies (public or private) are considering metrology and quality in their technological decisions and innovation policies. This has resulted in an increased demand for training in the area of metrology especially with the pressure exerted by the need to get the ISO 9000 Quality Assurance certification.

This paper addresses the important issue of metrology training and makes a proposal for a training program in metrology at the Technical Education and Vocational Training level to support real and urgent need of  Saudi industrial sectors.

 KEY WORDS:  Metrology, Quality, Vocational, Technical, Education, Training,  ISO 9000, DACUM, ABET.


Metrology is the science of measurements associated with the evaluation of its uncertainty. Metrology and measurement have a key position in the areas of science, research, industrial production, product quality testing and certification. Metrology can be wrongly seen to be a research science for highly specialized experts conducted in highly sophisticated laboratories. Its results together with the appropriate measurement equipment are widely used in the every aspects of our daily life. Modern industries rely heavily on measurements and metrology. It is estimated that the costs of measurements represent up to 15 percent of the production costs. In Europe of today what is measured and weighted costs about 6 percent of the combined Gross National Product (Halaj et al. 2003).

As we enter the 21st century, metrology has reached a level of unprecedented strategic importance both to the economy and society as a whole.  Why is this the case? Why metrology? And why now? The answers to these questions lie in three forces that are reshaping the modern economy :

  1. the globalization of trade, investment and manufacturing;

  2. the development of international standards for all kinds of goods and services; and

  3. the explosive growth of high technology in almost every sector of the economy.

Each of these forces are increasing the demand for advanced metrology and high requirements on the qualifications and skills of persons working in all areas of industrial activity. They are also the drivers behind the growing push for greater international cooperation in the field of metrology. Adequate knowledge in metrology and measurement is more than ever necessary for industrial technicians, engineers and managers in almost all engineering fields (Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Automotive, Petrochemical, Defense, Health, Trade, etc..).

In today`s world, there is no greater pressure on industrial companies than to become ISO certified. ISO 9000 standards series continue to evolve and advance the requirements of an internationally accepted quality management system (QMS) that is the foundation for global trade.  Contained within these standards are elements of  fundamental metrology skills, which employers may expect a graduate of technology based degree to possess. The ISO 9001 QMS requires the use of competent personnel as defined in section 6.2 and the establishment of an effective system for the control,  inspection and measurement equipment covered in section 7.6. Within highly competitive market, industrial companies are considering metrology and measurement in their technological decisions and innovation policies. This has resulted in an increased demand for training in the area of metrology and measurement. With the advent of the ISO 17025 (formerly ISO Guide 25) and the ISO 9000 Quality Assurance series, and through a DACUM curriculum analysis, Bagley (2000) showed that the need for metrologists is continuing to rise in order to support the strong demand in both the private and the public industrial and commercial sectors.


Industrialized nations have realized the importance of metrology. The Department of defense DOD, the U. S. Navy and Air forces launched important metrology training programs since the 1940`s. They established the rating of Instrumentman (IM) in 1947 to install, test, calibrate, overhaul, and repair measurement equipments. Many military metrology schools then began to evolve.  For example, the U. S. Air Force began its metrology training program at Lowry Air Force Base in 1959. 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 provided for gradual consolidation of the courses at Lowry. Such military training organizations remained the main source of metrology training from the 60’s through the 80’s. Other 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 effective 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.


The need and importance of metrology training has continued to rise in recent years as a consequence of the increased requirements of ISO 9000 and ISO 17025 quality assurance standards. Now, metrology training, which is required to support private industry as well as the public sector, is offered by International organizations for standards (NIST, ISO, BNM, API etc..), professional organizations (ASME, ASQ, etc...), educational colleges,  technical universities, commercial test equipment manufacturers and by industrial consultants. An internet research on colleges offering degrees in metrology and related topics led to the following results:

·         Industrial Research Institute Swinburne (IRIS) in Melbourne, Australia.

·        The Brunel Center for Manufacturing Metrology.  Brunel University, London, UK.

·         Ecole d`Ingénieurs des Mines de DOUAI, France.

·         Université de Toulon , France.

·         Helsinki University of Technology, Metrology Research Institute

·         Fleming Institute for Training in Metrology, Sir Sanford Fleming College, Ontario, Canada.

·         University of Mostaganem, Algeria.  

In the USA:

Vocational Training Colleges

·         Rock Valley College Technology Center, Rockford, IL

·         Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI

·         Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood, SC

Community Colleges

·         Butler County Community College, Butler, PA.

·         Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson, MN

·         McComb County Community College, Warren, MI.

·         Sinclair County Community College, Dayton, Michigan.

·         Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach, VA.


·         California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA

·         University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC.


A comprehensive list of metrology schools all over the world can be retrieved from the International Journal of Metrology site. The degrees offered by these educational institutions range from the Associate degree (2 to 3 years graduate studies at college or university level), B.Sc (4 to 5 years) and more advanced research degrees (Master and PhD). Anderegg (1998) noted that while some colleges are expanding metrology training programs into graduate schools other schools have difficulty recruiting enough students to justify continuation of metrology programs. However  as mentioned by DeRuntz (2004) more than 90 percent of metrology degree holders in USA and Europe are employed in the industry.

It is the authors point of view that associate degree should be enough to support the needs and demands of developing countries in this specific area of industrial technology. Our industrial and economical sectors, our accredited laboratories, and national organizations of standards such as the SASO (KSA) and ONML (Algeria) should have a minimum of highly specialized personnel in metrology as required by the ISO 9000 series standards.  


Metrology graduate who will work in manufacturing and many other service industries should possess the following competencies and skills:

·         Understand the basic measurement principles and practices.

·         Understand the definitions of traceability, capability, reliability, uncertainty, repeatability and reproducibility.

·         Learn the roles of calibration, standards and traceability.

·         Ability to read and work on measurement standards (National and International).

·         Operating calibration laboratory monitoring equipment and reporting on its output .

·         Scheduling and tracking routine calibration laboratory activities.

·         Calibrating sensors, instruments, gages, and other tools, so that they measure accurately and produce goods that are exactly the right size and shape according to specifications.

·         Inspecting and/or calibrating manufactured goods to ensure that they have been made correctly .

·         Troubleshooting instruments and products.

·         Ability to effectively communicate using the language of measurements.

·         Writing reports of findings, documenting procedures, and organizing lab logistics.



`Mr Metrology` or metrology technician is asked to maintain and operate sophisticated and sometimes computerized equipments used to measure weight, density, temperature, pressure, dimensions, time and many other physical parameters present in the various industrial processes. He usually works in industrial quality control departments, standardization organizations and specialist metrology companies, where he tests and calibrates production equipment to ensure that products are made perfectly according to design specifications. He is also involved in sampling and testing goods to ensure that they actually meet the exacting standards required.

In order to ensure these skills, training program leading to a degree in metrology should be carefully designed. In 1996, group of experienced metrologists from the US government departments (trade, defense and industry) and technology educators  worked out together within a DACUM-National Science Foundation program to identify the competencies required of expert metrologist needed by modern industry (Krause, 1996). They developed a list of knowledge in subjects that would constitute a metrology training program. The principal “knowledges” identified are:

 A.      Academic

·         Mathematics: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, Calculus.

·         Physical Sciences:  (Physics, Chemistry)

·         English:  (Composition, Reading, Grammar, Technical Writing)

·         Computer Technology: Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Programming.

B.    Metrology Core

·         General Metrology:  Measurement Principles, Uncertainty Analysis, Measurement Traceability, Calibration.

·         Administration: Laboratory Practices & Facilities, Ethics and Standards of Conduct, Reports & Certificates, Training Documentation, Metrology Organizations.

·         Safety:  Laboratory, Industrial.

·         Quality Control:  Statistical Process Control, Measurement Assurance, ISO 9000 and ISO 17025 standards.

C.   Metrology Specialty

·         Mechanical

·         Electrical/Electronics

·         Optical/Dimensional

·         Electro-Optics

·         Chemical/Environmental

·         Nuclear

It has to be noted here that it would be difficult for a two-year program to provide training for all of the topics above.  This is why specialized metrology programs have been proposed and offered by different universities and technical colleges such as Associate degree in industrial technology specialization in mechanical metrology offered by Tidewater Community College.

In recent surveys Bagley (2000) and DeRuntz (2004), asked industrial professionals representing a cross-section of metrology managers, engineers, technicians, ISO assessors from government, industry and military, which subjects are of interest to modern industry? The results of the surveys showed strong interest to the following subjects :

·         Calibration Techniques.

·         ISO Accreditation.

·         Dimensional Metrology.

·         Quality Control and Quality Assurance.



The concept adopted by most of  the educational institutions offering metrology training is to integrate metrology into existing large programs as a specialization. For example it is possible to earn an Associate degree in electrical technology with a specialization in metrology. Such a proposal has been discussed recently by  Rushdi and Barakeb (2004) to create an associate degree in electro-optics at the GOTEVOT colleges level. Based on the same concept and after an analysis of the Saudi industrial and economical sectors needs and through a deep analysis of the existing training programs offered world wide we found that it is very relevant to integrate metrology within the mechanical technology – Production training program with only few adjustments of this program.

The proposed program would lead to a Diploma in Mechanical Technology with a specialization in Metrology and Quality Assurance. The training program which is shown table 1 is intended to provide trainees the basic knowledge and skills needed to operate, maintain, calibrate, and troubleshoot physical measurement standards and associated test, measurement. It is designed to meet the precision measurement needs of Saudi industry by preparing the trainees through both theoretical lectures and hands-on laboratory work to successfully enter the work force. Trainees who successfully complete this program will be prepared for employment in a variety of fields, such as :

·         Oil and Gas Industry,

·         Manufacturing Industry,

·         Electrical Power Industry,

·         Telecommunications,

·         Food production,

·         Water desalination Industry,

·         Pharmaceutical industry,

·         Defense (aerospace, naval, military) ,

·         National and regional standardization organizations (SASO),

·         Transportation, and

·         Environmental Protection.

We note here that while preparing the proposal thorough discussions have been made with colleagues educators in the areas of mechanical technology and metrology  from both Mostaganem university in Algeria and Colleges of technology in KSA. It has been agreed that this proposal should be checked with respect to the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technical (ABET) criteria to ensure the quality of the outcome of such a training program.


Metrology education and training has been shown to be of crucial importance to Saudi industry in the prospects of the increased requirements of ISO 9000 and ISO 17025 Quality Assurance standards. The General Organization of Technical Education and Vocational Training can heighten its efforts to satisfy the industrial demand and needs by :

·         Modifying existing technical programs and

·         Adding new subject related to measurements science and standards.

Such an approach will be easy to implement and economically justified since the same existing resources (Human, laboratories, ) will be used to carry on this training program in different technological fields.

It is the authors view, that a degree in Mechanical technology with the specialization in Metrology and Quality assurance will cover an urgent need of Saudi industrial sectors (both public and private). The  training program proposed in this paper can be held at any Mechanical Technology department having competent educators (PhD, M.Sc., Diploma) and relevant measurements laboratories (Dimensional metrology, Flow, Material testing, Electrical Measurements etc…).



Table 1 – Proposed Program for a Diploma in Mechanical Technology specialization Metrology and Quality Assurance


First Semester        16

Mathematics (Algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics)


Physics and Chemistry


English 1 (oral and written communication)


Engineering Drawing Fundamentals


Introduction to Computing 1 (Operating Systems, Microsoft Office)


Second Semester        17

English 2


Industrial Materials (Introduction to material science and Material Testing)


Introduction to Metrology (basic concepts)


Introduction to Quality Systems


Industrial Safety


Islamic culture 1


Third Semester           18

Dimensional Metrology


Statistical Quality Control




Computer Applications for technicians


Islamic culture 2


Arabic language (writing technical reports)


Fourth Semester          17

English 3


Fluid Flow Metrology


Electrical Metrology (Electric and Light)


Total Quality Management (Fundamentals of ISO 9000 and ISO 17025)


Standards and Traceability


Interpersonal Relations and Professional Development


Advanced Metrology (Calibration procedures and uncertainty analysis)


Summer Practical (In field) Training



Total Credit hours





[1] M. Halaj, P. Gabko, E. Kurekova1 and R. Pale, 2003, `Project for the modern educational tool in measurement and metrology`, Measurement Science Review, Volume 3, Section 1, pp. 23-26.

[2] J. L. Bagley, 2000, `Metrology education in the new millennium`, International Journal of Metrology, Volume 5, pp. 26-32.

[3] Krause, Scott (DACUM Facilitator), 1996. `Metrology/Precision Measurement Competencies and Skills Profile for Technicians and Engineers`, Higher Education and Advanced Technology Center at Lowry, Aurora, C.O.

[4]  B. Anderegg, 1998, `Metrology Education:  A Collaborative Approach`,  Proceedings of the 1998 NCSL Workshop & Symposium, p. 211

[5]  DeRuntz, B, 2004, `Preparing to meet industry`s demand for dimensional metrology trained industrial technologists`, Journal of Industrial Technology, Vol. 20 (1), Nov. 2003 to Jan. 2004.

 [6] علي رشدي و عمر باركب، 2004, نحو استحداث برنامج تعليم تقني في الضوئيات الالكترونية في المملكة العربية السعودية. الملتقى التقني الأول بالباحة, الباحة 3-5 ماي 2004.


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Last Updated on : January 2005