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How Many Engineers Does It Take To Make A Measurement?

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Contemporary Instrumentation Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.672.1 - 13.672.10



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Paper Authors


John Robertson Arizona State University

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John Robertson is a Professor in the Electronic Systems Department at Arizona State University Polytechnic. He was formerly an executive with Motorola and now participates in many senior technical training programs with the JACMET consortium.

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Barbara Rampel Arizona State University

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Barbara Rampel is a Lecturer in the Electronic Systems Department at Arizona State University Polytechnic. She has electronics design experience with Intel and is currently working closely with Microchip on embedded system applications.

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James Edwards Raytheon

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Jim Edwards is a Center Manager at Raytheon, Tucson. He has been a long-time participant in the JACMET Instrumentation team and is now chairman.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

How many Engineers does it take to make a measurement?


The emergence of nano-technology has driven the evolution of instrumentation tools and has revolutionized the measurement industry. The new technology also impacts engineering education with challenges to prepare the next generation of graduates to be competent and effective in this rapidly evolving field. This paper examines three current industry applications and explores their implications for curriculum development and delivery. The first application involves measuring the performance of prototypes to validate automobile design. The second concerns continuous status assessment of missiles and the third deals with instrumentation embedded within advanced production tools used in the semiconductor industry. Inexpensive embedded instrumentation empowers data generation requiring a fraction of the human resources and at an acquisition rate many orders of magnitude greater than was possible even a decade ago. The new measurement technology puts emphasis on timing, accuracy and stability, troubleshooting and formatting gigabytes (and more) in a reliable and unambiguous way. The paper offers an example showing how these changes can be incorporated into a typical curriculum without massive restructuring.

Maintaining educational relevance

Every technology-focused educational group goes to great lengths to maintain the currency and relevance of its programs. The most common methods are:

Receive advice from an Industry Advisory Board. The process works well, especially if meetings are held more than once per semester and the industry members carry their message into the class-room as guest speakers and act as hosts for company visits. Through conferences, research and applications-focused partnerships. Opportunities for hands-on experience and student involvement through internships and projects follow. Provide a series of short courses for industry. The issues are always pragmatic and often very basic but there is no better way to learn about the practical skills requirements in the workforce. The success criteria are harsh. If a course does not add value, it will not survive no matter how enthusiastic its academic proponents may be.

The authors use all three methods of interaction. One conclusion is that the world of measurement is changing rapidly. It would be easy to miss this outcome since it is not unique to any particular course or technology. However, it touches on every aspect of product design, manufacturing and support so the implications are important.

To determine the scope and nature of the changes and trends in industry practice, a number of case studies were undertaken. They are drawn from the activities of a

Robertson, J., & Rampel, B., & Edwards, J. (2008, June), How Many Engineers Does It Take To Make A Measurement? Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3905

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