AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast

Let's Talk Metrology

May 18, 2021 Heather Wade, Heather Wade Group LLC. Season 2 Episode 3
Show Notes Transcript

AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript

Season 2, Episode 3: Let's Talk Metrology

Released: May 18, 2021 

Hosts: Brian Jonson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source 

Guest: Heather Wade, Heather Wade Group LLC.

Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics. 

Transcription is auto-generated. 

[Theme music fades in.] 

00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials testing and inspection with people in the know.  From exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here’s our host, Brian Johnson.

00:00:21 BRIAN: Welcome to AASHTO Resource Q&A. Today, we're going to. Do a little. Dive into the magical, mystical world of metrology with our guest Heather Wade. Heather, welcome to the podcast.

00:00:33 HEATHER: I'm happy to be here.

00:00:35 BRIAN: And of course, we've got Kim Swanson, our producer and Cohost with us.

00:00:40 KIM: Yes, I'm very excited for this episode.

00:00:44 BRIAN: OK. Well, let's start with the basics. Heather is an expert in metrology. That's why she's on here, and we'll get into her activities related to metrology in a minute. But first, I want to start with a basic question. What is metrology?

00:01:00 HEATHER: Metrology at first, I want to differentiate it. It is not meteorology. We don't tell the weather. We don't forecast the weather, common misconception probably 9 times out of 10. Even spell check we'll say. Ohh you meant meteorology. He's like, no, I meant metrology. So metrology is by definition the science of measurement, which doesn't mean a lot just by that. But if we think about applications of metrology and we put it into real world. In the world of manufacturing measurements that science those science and applications of measurements are super important. So, like with construction materials, they have to be manufactured in certain ways following certain recommendations or guidelines or standards or requirements. And in order to be able to know your meeting those requirements. You need measurements, so that's where part of metrology comes in.

00:02:01 HEATHER: And another part of the application of metrology is calibration. And that's where my specialty really is about calibration application in metrology and it comes out of my understanding and application for working for a test lab. So, we've calibrated all of the test equipment in the in the laboratories. So, we had to understand. How and why those equipment were used so we could make sure that the equipment were appropriately calibrated, meaning that they were accurate? But proper and proper for use and functional and would meet everybody's needs and requirements. And so that's another aspect of metrology. There's when equipment or pieces and parts and components are being assembled, they often need measurements too to make sure that they are assembled correctly.

00:03:02 HEATHER: So, engineers will be figuring out weight loads, fittings, putting in expansion joints because of temperature changes, makes materials shrink or swell. So all of that is also considered aspects of applied metrology. Things that you may be familiar with every day is when you go fill up your car with gas. The gas pumps are also calibrated so that you know you're getting a gallon of gas when you get a gallon. When you buy food. If it's either at the deli and they put it on the. Scale to weigh. It those are weights and measures that are equally translatable around the world.

00:03:47 BRIAN: So, you're an expert on metrology. So, when you go to the gas pump, you go to the deli, you go. Go to the. Fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store and you're weighing this, whatever it is on a a really wonky looking balance as a metrologist. Does that break your heart or do you? Are you just like this is the way it is and I'm? OK, with it.

00:04:10 HEATHER: Well, with legal metrology such as in food. Food or in gasoline? Something for where something is used for trade those scales, those balances and scales have to be have to be calibrated and certified that they are appropriate for you. So, a wonky balance won't be able to pass, but you could have a really good balance. That a really bad applicant. Of its use, so the equipment is 1 aspect of it, but then also how those equipment are used is also very critical. I'm going to use a window in your house. You can have the best window. The top notch window, but if it's a really bad install, you got a nice window. There's a lot of draft.

00:04:56 BRIAN: That's a good point. Now for our customers, a lot of them have kind of stepped in the world in metrology, you mentioned some examples in the construction. Skills testing arena, but for some of our customers, the idea of metrology seems new to them because years ago there was a requirement put into AASHTO R18, which is the standard they use and we use and it required them to have all of their measurements standards. So if they're, you know, gauge blocks or. Standard masses, stuff like that had to be calibrated. measurement uncertainty included by a 17025 accredited calibration laboratory that did not come without some consternation in our industry and some skepticism. But can you tell our listeners why that is a good idea to do? What I just laid out.

00:05:52 HEATHER: And 1st, I will absolutely recognize the hurdles for this new language of calibration accreditation. Uncertainty and you must have this equipment calibrated and there has been very little whole scale, broad scale effort to help with that education to the user to know what that means in in many people's minds they just say I just need a sticker and assert. And they don't even know. Well, how their equipment is used, what is used for? They just know they use this equipment, it gives them a reading or they are able. To make a measurement by it. But that's all they know. And hey, it seems to work and. Here we go. So it's a very common hurdle. It's a part of why I do what I do because I'm so passionate about metrology. In helping users and companies understand and know how to not only interpret the calibration certificates but also understand their equipment and know what to ask for in a calibration.

00:07:03 HEATHER: Because they may say to a company calibrate this and the company will most likely come back. Say, what do you need calibrated on it? How accurate does it need? To be what are you using it for and that's part of the conversation that can leave a lot of people struggling to answer, especially if. The people using the equipment have to make the request through a purchasing department. And the purchasing department is saying, here's the PO. Here's what we want. So there's a lot of layers that these requests can go through. So the first part. Is to know the equipment that you have. What it's used. For what's needed to be calibrated on the equipment and secondly is asking. Knowing what to ask for, how to find the calibration labs that can do these calibrations for you and how to search them. And then once you get the equipment back instead of just filing the certificate and the. Or to look at the calibration certificate, did you get what you asked for? Are the data the as found data? How was the equipment upon receipt? Was it intolerance? Was it out of? Tolerance, because if it. Was out of tolerance then you need. To do something about it, you need to manage your risk. What was that equipment used for? Could there be faulty product? Could there be tests that were impacted? That the manufacturer is thinking, hey, our stuff passed our equipment passed, we're going to install it in the World Buildings Rd. Depend on how good this material is and the part for the test labs is to make sure that their tests are valid and defendable. So in in calibrations where I worked at, I would approach every calibration, but I would have to defend it in court. Because I worked in products in the product certification and safety world that there were lawsuits because lives were affected by it, lives could be lost.

00:09:15 BRIAN: Yeah, that's such a good point that you're making and for those listeners, if you were kind of zoning out for a little while, please go back and listen to what Heather just said, because this conversation happens at so many laboratories where they have the conversation with it or they don't have the conversation with the calibration laboratory. They order it calibration. They get a result of some kind and then they file it away. Whether the equipment is suitable for use, whether the calibration is suitable for use. Sometimes it's not even discussed or noticed, so that conversation is so critical and I'm glad you brought that point up. We actually just had a conference call the other day with a laboratory and their calibration. Company discussing that very thing and the calibration company expressed what they were willing to state. As a responsible, accredited calibration agency and the laboratory expressed what they needed and there was a point in the middle that they, a few, actually a few ways to get to where they needed to get, but they weren't there yet and the conversation was really good and we were happy to be at mediary.

00:10:23 BRIAN: At that time, because there was some confusion, but we would love it if people would just listen to what you just said and realize what they need to do and move forward and have those conversations with their calibration or with the calibration agencies.

00:10:36 HEATHER: Thank you, Brian. It all comes down to risk. So, in ISO IEC 17025 world, managing risk is one of the main components. So as a test lab you have to manage the risk of your data and one of the ways to manage your risk is through calibrations of your equipment, because that's one part of ensuring the validity. And because you are responsible for the data, the manufacturer may come back to you or at you and say it's your fault. But the manufacturer also has to assume risk too of their own product and their own manufacturing practices. Not going to get into the legal. Part of it because that is. Out of my wheelhouse and a big land mine, but looking at what each company can do for their own risk management and shoring up that foundation of their measurements.

00:11:40 HEATHER: By calibration, by having. Appropriate, valid calibrations, accredited calibrations and Brian, I think you'd ask the question too of why accredited calibrations. Was just like accredited testing, so an accredited test lab means it's been assessed by a third party such as AASHTO. To make sure that how they're performing their tests meet. The requirements of ISO IEC 17025. Of AASHTO requirements as well as the company's own quality and process requirements. So it provides a level. Playing field for everybody to aspire and meet. And so with calibration, that accredited calibration means that those calibration providers have also been independently assessed by a third party.

00:12:42 HEATHER: No interest, no, no, no skin in the game of that that companies performance. That they have no vested interest in the in that performance that companies performance to say yes, this company meets the requirements they have, the people who are competent, they have the processes that are validated and verified. They have the environments in which to perform these. They have the equipment. That's proper and it's calibrated and we know it's going to. Work when they use it, and let's.

00:13:17 BRIAN: Get into some of the obscure, well obscure to some people not obscure to you. Measurement uncertainty. Can you break that down a little bit? What's the difference between measurement uncertainty and?

00:13:32 HEATHER: Ah OK so. With measurement uncertainty, there is no. True measurement where it is 100% absolute when people are in. Salt so the best way to illustrate this is the saying of measure twice, cut once. So, if you're measuring a piece of. Of wood to. To install trim in your home and you. Have you look at the factors you? Have the piece of wood and. What's the temperature? Is the wood wet? Is it humid? Is it cold and then? You look at. What are you? Using to make the measurement, are you? Using a tape. Measure or ruler. How accurate is it? Are you in applying that measurement tool? And then let's say when you lock it down, on the table and there may be a shift where you make the cuts. As well as making the measurement for the piece to go in for trim, so there's all of these measurements involved.

00:14:37 HEATHER: So, when we say measure twice, cut once, we're trying to make those little errors, those inherent errors. In the measurements as small as possible, so when you cut when you measure it and you measure it and you measure. That you're getting the best measurement possible. So when you have that piece of trim and you go. To install it. You have a nice clean seam. Uncertainty could be illustrated by all of those components that make you have to have those repeated measurements and getting different values each time.

00:15:16 BRIAN: I like that. And next to that resonates with me a lot because this weekend I was hanging up a series of five pictures and I was trying to get. Them to be. Level with each other and I was very frustrated. Created because of the little the little differences in the frame, the little differences in the wire that I use to hang the little differences in where I made my measurements, I think anybody who's tried to hang a series of photos on the wall has experienced that frustration unless they're just real pros at it. But that is good. I wasn't thinking about measurement at certainty at the time, but I certainly am now, and it is important.

00:15:58 HEATHER: And you asked about bias too, how does that factor into it? So, let's say you're looking at each of those. At an angle at the same angle each time, and so you're looking a little bit from the side. So, this bias, this is this undercurrent of shift in that measurement that is seen each time in a measurement. So, you may be looking from. The left and there's. Without getting too technical, there's parallax error so. If you look at the finger in front of your face and you're looking at something behind you and you close one eye and close the other and you alternate back and forth. Your finger is going to move. So where you look? At something and the angle that you look at something. It's a contributor to this measurement uncertainty.

00:16:45 BRIAN: Kim, if there's a word that you could sum up about why measurement of certainty is important, what would it be? Does it give you? Well, what would it give you if you know your measurement uncertainty?

00:16:55 KIM: Confidence, confidence in the result. Of that, I was like, Oh my gosh, you're putting me on the. Spot I was like. I'm like I'm paying attention, but I do not. Really understand this topic. So, I'm trying to learn what I trained, but I was very nervous there but. I knew where you were going there, Brian.

00:17:12 BRIAN: I was making sure you were paying attention [KIM: I pay attention.] because I've been. I've been taking up too much of the Q&A here. So, we talked about measurement uncertainty just now. I think that was a great explanation and you as a metrologist. Aside from knowing the weather forecast, you know you know about really obscure concepts in metrology, I'm sure, because there are so many. When you think about what the actual standard is for length or for time or whatever it is, in your opinion. What's the most obscure metrological concept that? You know of.

00:17:51 HEATHER: Ah, let me think so. One of the concepts that is relatively new like in the past ten years, maybe even less than that and that is quantum metrology. And when I first heard about it, it was mind blowing to think about, so to look at, just to start off with what we do right now. In the in the. Whole traceability of measurements, so by traceability. We're thinking of. Is you have. Let's say a micrometer that you're using to make measurements physical measurements of a certain dimension, micrometer or caliper. Those are calibrated with gauge blocks in most cases, so the gauge blocks would also be calibrated so each part of this and the gauge blocks. Would be something would be more accurate than the caliper micrometer. The gauge blocks are calibrated by something even more accurate than them.

00:18:57 HEATHER: That standard is calibrated by something even more accurate than that, and it goes on this continuous, unbroken chain. Of calibrations which I just want to define calibrations as a comparison. A comparison between an unknown. Compared to a known, more accurate standard. So, each of those go up this chain or this pyramid, which is sometimes how it's illustrated where at the very top you have what's known as the base unit of measurement for length, which is the meter. So, all of these measurements, no matter where you are in the world, tie back to the meter when it comes to length or dimension. Each of these base units of measurement, like the meter are proven, are realized, are created using natural physical constants.

00:19:59 HEATHER: So, things that are unchanging and so it's using feet of light in a vacuum over time. And that's a meter. It's using a laser so. Basically, quantum standard. Give you what that standards value is. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very tiny uncertainty measurement uncertainty. So that if it's working, if it gives you an output, it's only that value 1 meter to however many decimal places. And if it's not, then you don't get an output. But what this does is it takes away that pyramid. So, you would have your caliper or micrometer and essentially be able to calibrate it directly against this quantum standard. It levels this playing field so that the uncertainty.

00:21:00 HEATHER: That you would have. In your measurement would also be a lot smaller than it had been with this chain of unbroken calibrations. Or could be. That's a lot smaller. So it's a difficult topic to wrap your mind around, but if you think of like measurements. On a chip. And the reason I say this is. Because these measurements, these quantum standards are already happening. National metrology institutes like NIST in the United States have been creating these quantum standards. So it's going to revolutionize the world of.

00:21:40 BRIAN: Measurement physically, I mean, is it a? Is it a physical artifact or is it what is it? What is that quantum standard?

00:21:48 HEATHER: I don't know. It works and. Then it gives you an output. Of what that is or gives you that measurement. I know NIST I think has something on their website. I I would have to check to. Make sure that. I'm stating that correctly.

00:22:04 BRIAN: Well, that sounds really complicated. And so as far as who would be qualified to handle or use a quantum standard, I imagine there would be some expertise required for that or no.

00:22:19 HEATHER: I'm not sure. I think the purpose would be outside of handling. And making sure you can operate it is that. That when you use it, it works and it gives you that output. So it makes it easier versus having the physical setup to create those natural physical constants and work them together to give you the realization of a standard. It's something I'm still learning about. And look forward to as it continues to progress and become eventually at the customer level.

00:22:56 BRIAN: Well, that sounds good. Go ahead, Kim.

00:22:59 KIM: I was just going to say I'm going to put a link on our website with this podcast episode to the NIST Quantum the measurement page. So, if you want to go. To deep Dive, we're going to help start that. Deep dive for you.

00:23:12 BRIAN: So, we're going to go from the obscure to the nuts and bolts of calibration, and let's talk about traceability for a minute. What is the value of traceability?

00:23:21 HEATHER: Ah yeah, the Value of traceability. Is that your measurement? So we're going to go back to that caliper and let's say when it measures A1 inch gauge block or a 2 1/2 centimeter gauge block or three centimeter gauge block that around the world, it doesn't matter where you're at. That everybody understands and knows what that length is, it's the. Same length around the world.

00:23:50 BRIAN: And that is important.

00:23:51 BRIAN: Going back to the earlier conversation, that's important for just making sure things are correct and fit together and are safe for manufactured properly. Is there something that our customers could wrap their heads around with the value as a monetary value, so like? If they say, well, I don't really think it's that important to have traceability on my compression machine for a concrete strength testing what? What would you tell somebody as a as a consultant and I and we will get into more of what you do. I keep trying to. Steer us back there. We may have to craft this afterward to make it fit together better. But what would you say to somebody who said?

xx: I'm not sure what the value of this is how you know. How much should I be interested in this? How much should I be willing to pay to make sure I have traceability for my measurements on compressive, compressive, strength of concrete?

00:24:54 HEATHER: Yeah, I can understand if they're not. Sure of the value and the benefit to them and understand what it means. Why do I need it? So I would ask the question well, why do you test the compression strength of concrete? And where is it being used and what would happen if you got that measurement wrong? Let's say they say it's being used for a bridge, So what would happen if the values that you thought you measured were incorrect and you thought it could up with withstand? A 20 ton application and I'm just making up a number because I don't know what the force loads. Are in concrete but. It can only withstand a 5 ton. Load or maybe a one ton load and you're saying Yep, it's good and manufacturer says great, I can use it and they install it and the bridge collapses or crumbles and people die.

00:25:57 HEATHER: There's damage to to property and roads are shut down. So the reason that we would have the traceability and measurement is so that when you say here are the values of this test report of this product. That it's translatable, it's defendable. We know what it means and we know that your data behind it are valid and defendable.

00:26:23 BRIAN: I think that's pretty much it and we all, we've all seen examples in just about every state where something happens like that. Bridges collapse, pedestrian walkways. Collapse and it may be the concrete, or maybe some other. You know elastomeric bridge bearing. Something like that could be a number of things. So it traceability is defined when you talking about lost lives. You can easily put a very high dollar value on the importance of that. So, whatever the calibration cost is, it's probably way. Way below what would be the value of it? Now let's talk about Heather Wade Group LLC for a minute, because I haven't addressed this properly.

00:27:02 HEATHER: OK.

00:27:05 BRIAN: So, Heather, what kind of services do you provide?

00:27:09 HEATHER: So I provide services to calibration labs, test labs and manufacturers to improve their measurements. It could be on the on the level of looking at their quality systems. How does it tie together? Perhaps they've had an assessment or an audit and they don't know how to respond to a certain finding. Or maybe they need to do an internal audit, but they don't have the staff to do it or they want a third party. An outside perspective of their services and activity. Also, as well as training and education, what is it? How do you read a calibration certificate? How do I know what to ask? How do I know how to search for accredited calibration providers so those are those are just some of the ways that I can? Help those different areas of manufacturers, test labs and.

00:28:04 BRIAN: Are there any particular sectors that you work in more than others? Or is it just anybody who's involved in calibration or the need for calibration?

00:28:15 HEATHER: It could be anybody that needs calibration and manufacturers will often have their own internal labs where they will test their own equipment before or their own products before sending it for accredited. And sometimes one of the things that I learned in my previous work area was that with those types of the manufacturer testing, they would, they would test it, they would pass, they send it in for credited testing. And it would fail. And they would say, why are we failing? And the test lab I worked for couldn't tell them why they were failing. They could say here's how you run the test. But they couldn't consult. So, I can and those are the areas that I can work with manufacturers to say. Why is this happening? Well, let's look at. What some of the things could be? And then test labs. Why is this happening?

00:29:14 HEATHER: We're getting good results, but then something's going wrong here or we don't know how to find calibration vendors. We don't know what to ask for. We don't know how to interpret. Our calibration certificates. And so those are other areas. That I work in.

00:29:29 BRIAN: That's really good. I hope people who are listening are paying attention to that because there are so many times when laboratories reach out to us and they say, you know, we've got some low ratings on proficiency samples. We don't know what's going on or we keep having this recurring problem. We don't know why. Sometimes if you get somebody from the outside looking in, it understands this quality. Concepts and maybe isn't spending their days in a construction materials lab, but with that knowledge of quality concepts, calibration measurement uncertainty processes Contra. Polls you can really uncover some interesting things and solve a problem that may have been vexing you for a while, so I hope people are listening to that and thinking about how they might be able to use that kind of service. Now, Heather, I think you've also written some books or have some publications that are available for people if they want to learn more. Is that correct?

00:30:22 HEATHER: I do there. Are on my website I have some links and some articles that I've written that have been published conference presentations that I'm giving a Conference 2 conference presentations at the end of this summer and one is about how to read and interpret calibration certificates. And the other is how to search calibration vendors to find out what it is you need, how to read the scopes of accreditation of calibration providers. I'm also heading up the effort to update the ASQ Press Metrology handbook to the third edition. So, this is considered the top resource for. For people in the metrology world and the calibration world as well as people that would be taking the ASQ certified calibration technician exam, this is the most popular reference material for that exam.

00:31:17 BRIAN: How did you get into this, by the way? This is not this is. Not your everyday, like little kid grows up hey. What do you want to be in like? I want to be a fireman. I want to be a doctor.

xx: Going to be this metrology is probably not even a word that a lot of kids know, but there's a real need to get people involved in the sciences and all of these other areas that maybe you don't realize until you're older that it that exist are really important. So, Heather, how did you, how did you get into this, what was there like a, a defining moment where you said I'd? Want to get into metrology?

00:31:52 HEATHER: The defining moment. Was the company I was working at. A friend of mine was trying to get in to work in one of the test labs and asked if I could look in the job postings and I looked up and there was this position that said laboratory calibration officer and I'm like hang on and I looked through the requirements and I thought, Oh my gosh, this is me and what made it me was the. The quality aspect because I didn't really know what calibration really meant, but the ensuring the quality and validity of measurements for engineering, for chemistry and for microbiology labs. And I had professional experience working as in each of those capacities, so I could speak all of the languages of the labs, and I love the what I thought would be the predictability of measurements. But there's so many things that can happen that. Using the scientific method to find out those variations is very exciting.

00:32:54 HEATHER: For me, I only have a degree in biology from University of Michigan, but those course work and the scientific background and methodologies really prepared me well. So I I stumbled into this position like many people have stumbled into it. They found this area, this application. That excites them and makes them want to improve and continue learning. A lot of folks that have learned metrology came out through the military in the US. Because the. Precision measurement equipment laboratories. They were the main education and training sort. And it's a field that is in desperate need for people. A lot of labs that I work with, they are including the lab I had was we struggled finding people that had experience in this field that had training. So we had to train a lot of people on the job.

00:33:54 HEATHER: And how do we do that? And what skills are needed for these areas? So, it's an exciting field with endless opportunities for anybody, even at the entry level. That's I know that there's some labs that have hiring bonuses and this has been going on for years for entry level because they're so desperate for people. It's and it's the need. Is only going to get even stronger. Because a lot of. The people that were trained through. The military are retiring and have retired. So, the workforce need and the knowledge of people who have retired, we're losing all of. This so to. To get people in the field now they can learn this. They can learn from these gurus and these fantastic people with all of this institutional knowledge.

00:34:47 BRIAN: It's critical, but if I'm somebody who is either going into college and college looking to change careers, whatever it is that they may be looking for a change or development, where do you think they could turn to learn more about this field, to see if it's right for them?

00:35:04 HEATHER: There are a number of resources and I have. A lot of them linked. On my website. Heatherwadegroup.com. And with that, there are some local colleges, community colleges as well as some universities that have programs on metrology. And associates level is is great for folks getting into it. Some key areas that are good to have strong background in would be mathematics. Mechanical aptitude, being able to picture things in 3D, see things in 3D mechanical aptitude such as being able to troubleshoot one of the technicians that I hired was a bicycle technician, bicycle repair guy, and he was great. He was able to tear down. And fix equipment, but I had struggled with like why is this keep on plugging up or why is this not even plugging up?

00:36:00 HEATHER: I didn't know that was what was going on, but the variety of backgrounds that people can come into this attention to, detail ability to. Do perform repetitive work, because sometimes you're just doing the same thing every day. If you're on the bench, but also being able to pivot and adjust to changing demands and that's pretty much any job now today. But it's a fun and very rewarding career.

00:36:30 BRIAN: Now Heather is on the podcast because this week that this episode airs is. It's got a special day in it world Metrology Day, which I'm sure is on everyone's calendar.

00:36:45 BRIAN: Kim, would you like to tell us more about World Metrology Day?

00:36:48 KIM: I would love to tell everyone about World Metrology Day from worldmetrologyday.org because I do not know I did. This is on my. Calendar but it is not.

xx: One that I celebrate in the Swanson house. I'm not going to lie, we don't. It perhaps Heather celebrates it in. Her household but. World Metrology Day is on the 20th of May and it is the celebration of the signing of the meter convention on May 20th, 1875. So the 17 nations came together and said this is what a meter. Is and that is what we celebrate this. Week on world. Did they get that right, Heather?

00:37:31 HEATHER: You did, Kimberly. Quick job and you said metrology and not. Meteorology 

00:37:38 KIM: like you know, with me, you. Never know. Like honestly. With me, you never know what's going to what I'm going to say. Very conscious of that. So, thank you. I'm glad you noticed.

00:37:47 BRIAN: Well, you're in. You're in good company here. These are two Michiganders here with me today. And I I think Heather probably wouldn't make fun of you for some of the things you say. Like what happens? It works sometimes.

00:38:00 KIM: Yes, I do. Get teased for my Michigan accent and I do notice it coming out sometimes, like, oh, my Michigan is showing, which is not a bad thing I would like to share my Michigan with everybody.

00:38:11 BRIAN: It it's not, yeah. It it's not bad and it's and it's really unfair because the people who are mocking you are from. And and that accent is sometimes. You can't tell if it's English or not.

00:38:23 KIM: Well, you can say that because you're near from. Near there I cannot get away with that. I cannot. You're.

00:38:28 BRIAN: Some of the words are really, you know, makes you wonder what is going on.

00:38:28 KIM: Going to get emails. We're going to. Get some info.

00:38:34 BRIAN: Anyway, Heather, one other thing as far as resources, there is something interesting I learned from your website and that is about some kind of fun ways to learn more about metrology and other things that may be considered to be a little nerdy. Do you do you want to tell us about nerd?

00:38:54 HEATHER: Ah, nerd night. What a blast. Also called the Discovery Channel with beer, because they're often held in a bar, but they are events that are held around the world and on the local level, organized by local people, other local nerds.

x And they are. Where people who are passionate about something in their. If that they think is nerdy, we'll get together and tell the audience a story about their nerdy passion. So some of the nerd nights that I've been to, there was a local guy who. Was talking about how he. Hybridizes his tomatoes and the local roller Derby Team came and presented and talked about the. History of roller Derby. In the University of Michigan town of Ann Arbor, where I've presented, there's well of course, the couple universities and so masters level and doctoral level students will come in and we'll talk about their research.

00:39:55 HEATHER: Really exciting things, like what is consciousness and what are the biological origins of anxiety. So, some really, really, really cool, fascinating things. And I've presented on. The some of the humorous and not so humorous good and bad moments of measurement history, as well as a few years ago when the last physical artifact of the base units of measurement, the kilogram, was redefined. So it used to be a hunk of metal, but over the 100 some years of that. Hunk of metal. It's mass. And so scientists worked together around the world to create ways that we could. Create or define or. Realize make that kilogram using natural physical constants. And so I spoke about the redefinition of the kilogram. Say that nerd night is an opportunity for anybody that can talk about. Things that are that are nerdy, it's fun.

00:41:01 KIM: I'm going to have to find. One near me. Or see if there's a virtual one that I can go because I love when people nerd out on something like I love to see their passion on it and I think that might be one of the reasons I was so excited for this episode, Heather, because I know you're so passionate about this topic. So, like, that's just makes me want to. Be a part of your passion in some way, so I'm going to need to find some nerd nights and I could definitely nerd out on some things as. Well, so I think excellent. I love having people have their nerd flag fly.

00:41:30 HEATHER: It yes, embrace the inner nerd.

00:41:35 BRIAN: I just like the idea of starting with that conversation in the beginning of the night instead of ending with it, where everybody everybody's receptive before they have too many drinks.

00:41:45 HEATHER: Yeah, and folks, when I was talking about measurements, I mean what? What a dry. And the responses were like, Oh my gosh, this was so interesting. I never knew it could be so interesting as well as applicable in so many parts of my life. And we don't think about it. We don't think about when we go get a gallon of gas, we just fill up our gas tanks and. We complain about how. Much it costs or we open the door to our home and the door fits or it doesn't fit well. What we have to take and how the medication amount is determined. The vaccine for the coronavirus that. Its development and how the shipment and the dispensing. Of those vaccines, the amount, the time between the doses, so there's so many ways the energy in our home, the temperature in our shower, the time in our alarm clock. The scale that we get on to realize the COVID-19 pounds we've gained.

00:42:48 BRIAN: Yeah, let's not talk about. That one right? Yeah, it is cool and I am encouraged looking forward because I have I have two little kids and in the public school system they had been learning about measurement science in first grade. They talked about different measurements, volume length, mass. What you can use to do those things. And so, they really got a nice introduction. And of course, they told me about it and I was very excited about it and immediately jumped all over it. And I don't know if they're still interested or not.

00:43:23 HEATHER: Yeah, when you can, when you. Can introduce kids to. These different areas and aspects and see the spark in them light up. As they start to realize. More and more, how the world works, and that was something I was so proud about at the company I. Used to work at. Because it was a very passionate company in supporting these outreaches to kids. And one of the day one of the. Ways they would do. That was take. Your child to work day and it was so popular in so many groups and. Lab folks would say, OK, microbiology lab, we're going to make slime chemistry lab. We're going to make different colors in these fluids. The engineering lab, we're. Going to blow stuff up. And that was always exciting, of course. And then we're going to make plastic. And then with. The calibration lab we had stopwatches, we had balances that kids could climb on up, you know, 600 pound capacity. How many people can we get on here? Small scales, benchtop ones. And we had.

00:44:27 HEATHER: Rolls of nickels. We had different things that they can measure and. See what they would weigh. And so getting them to understand these measurement concepts take measures take to the wall so they can measure their height. So, a lot of exciting ways when you can make it relatable to real world.

00:44:46 BRIAN: Yeah, that's really cool. And Kim, I think we're coming to the end of the conversation. What is there anything you want to add? Any question you want to add here at the end?

00:44:58 KIM: When you were talking Heather about that pyramid of. Things I forgot your exact term, but the pyramid that was the traceability right, that is how you trace it back is through. That pyramid of. Of things correct is it? But my understanding correct.

00:45:17 HEATHER: Yeah, so if we envision the a pyramid like the Great Pyramid of Giza at the very top of the pyramid is the smallest, the smallest point. Anandf we imagine that smallest point at the top. Being those base measurements Base unit of measurement. So, we're going to say the meter. The meter plus or minus a certain an amount of uncertainty, that's very small.

x And then just below that would be the standard that would be calibrated by the meter. So it's still another meter, but the uncertainty is going to. Be a little bit bigger. Because it's inheriting the uncertainty from the base unit and then the process and the equipment to make that secondary measurement. So then that secondary measures. Is now a reference standard for the layer below, and that layer below still a meter, but it's going to have a larger uncertainty than the one above because it's inheriting that unbroken chain.

00:46:19 HEATHER: So, these comparisons keep going down the levels of the pyramid. So that at the bottom of the pyramid you may have your everyday industrial measurements. And with that, it's still a. Here, but the accuracy of that meter is 1 meter plus or minus a measurement uncertainty. So that measurement uncertainty is where those values of the meter actually occur. It might be. 0.990 to 1.010. Is what that actual meter value? So that's how uncertainty is included in the measurement and used in the measurement. The measurement is somewhere in that value. The true measurement is somewhere in that value.

00:47:08 KIM: If that makes sense. And that answered the question that. I didn't ask very eloquently.

00:47:12 BRIAN: So, Heather, Heather, Wade, it was our guest today sharing her enthusiasm for metrology. She's the president of Heather Wade Group LLC. Heather, how can people reach out to you one last time?

00:47:23 HEATHER: They can visit me at Heather Wade. Group.com. They can e-mail me at h.wadewade@heatherwadegroup.com again, Wade, spelled W Ade. Sounds like weighed. Like I weighed myself on the balance. Funny thing about working in metrology is that. I will always be miss weighed.

00:47:50 KIM: Oh, that's hilarious. I did not even put those two together. Oh, my gosh, that is great. It I just wanted to know. Heather, did you have anything else that you wanted to promote and let our? Listeners know about.

00:48:03 HEATHER: First, I want to thank you for having me on the program. I've really enjoyed it and I'm really excited and happy to share my passion about metrology. Does anybody has questions and they're not sure if I'm the right fit for them? I offer free 30-minute consultations where we can talk about what the challenge is and if I'm the right. If I'm the right solution provider for you, and if you're the right person for me to work with or right company for me to work with as well. So if I'm not and I know somebody that. I can direct you to. I'm happy to do that too.

00:48:33 BRIAN: Thank you so much, Heather, and I appreciate your time today.

00:48:37 HEATHER: Thanks Brian. Thank you.

[Theme music fades in.]   

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