Browsing: Weights and Measures

It seems that I have been a teacher nearly my entire life. One of my first jobs as an early teen was helping to teach gymnastics to elementary students. Before and after I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I taught a women’s and children’s classes. In the world of weights and measures and laboratory metrology (metrology is the science of measurement), about 40 percent of my time each year is spent teaching, designing new courses or webinars, updating and improving training, and training or developing new trainers. I love that moment when my students’ “light bulbs” come on and I know that they’re getting something, especially when that something is the ability to make high quality, credible…

Even though I have spent my entire professional career at NIST, until a year ago it would never have entered my mind that I would become the chief of the NIST Office of Weights and Measures. I started out on the scientific side of metrology, improving our nation’s standards for calibrating devices that measure pressure, such as barometers, the pressure gauges you use to check your tires, and sphygmomanometers, which are the devices the doctor uses to measure your blood pressure every time you go in for a checkup. Until recently, I was on a two-year detail assignment at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) in Sèvres, France, contributing to the international metrology system and enjoying the perks…

Believe it or not, I love to grocery shop. Besides getting to pick all my favorite foods, I love the challenge of getting the best deals—and a challenge it can sometimes be! Without a doubt, I have found that the best tool available to enable price and value comparison is unit pricing, you know, those shelf labels that provide the price per unit of measure. It’s especially helpful in today’s environments where “downsizing” of packages is a common practice. Before I joined the Office of Weights and Measures at NIST, I worked in the supermarket industry. One of my responsibilities was to ensure price accuracy in our stores, including accurate unit pricing. Today, I’m a technical adviser with the NIST…

This week is the 41st anniversary of the Metric Conversion Act, which was signed on December 23, 1975, by President Gerald R. Ford. Normally, we celebrate by sharing metric education resources, but this year I want to use the occasion to dispel some common misconceptions about the U.S. relationship with the metric system. You’ve probably heard that the United States, Liberia and Burma (aka Myanmar) are the only countries that don’t use the metric system (International System of Units or SI). You may have even seen a map that has been incriminatingly illustrated to show how they are out of step with the rest of the world. It’s a compelling story and often repeated, but you might be surprised to…