From the Editor: Progress

May 2, 2012
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It’s a measure of success, depending on how it’s measured.

In my time covering the field of quality control and assurance, I have heard many comment that metrology hasn’t changed much over the years. The tools of the trade-coordinate measurement machines and calipers, just to name a few-have been around for a long time and have been employed by quality control professionals for just as long. So, is it being said that there has been no progress made in the field?

Since Quality is, in part, a forum on and for metrology, it would seem apropos to talk about how we measure progress. There are many ways to do so. Businesses measure their progress by the growth in the percentage of their profits year over year, or quarter over quarter. Progress in technology is often measured by how much easier something becomes for the average person to use and/or how it makes our lives easier.

Logistics plays a starring role in how economies grow and can be measured by improvements in the efficiency, ease and cost effectiveness of how we move products and resources across a global economy-making things cheaper, bolstering trade and relationships between nations and allowing us to enjoy and benefit from things we otherwise could not.

Bring these things together with a few other key elements and they collectively become “the measure of a great society.” And one of those other elements is the arts. Yes, the arts. Albeit, it was said by a fictional character in a modern, fictional drama by one of my favorite modern writers, Aaron Sorkin, the argument goes like this:

“There is a connection between progress of a society and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles (pronounced pār-ă-klēz) was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo Da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was the age of Shakespeare.”

I know, I had to look them up, too. Apparently, I made little progress in this area during my education. In any case, some have made the argument that the so-called advances in technology, business, economies and the arts in modern society point to more of a digression than a progression-computers that are meant to make our lives easier tend to complicate everyday activities; the Internet that was suppose to bring the world closer together through access to information is nothing more than a more efficient instrument for gossip; and that the modern version of the arts has been resigned to reality TV and sensational headlines about people who are famous for being famous.

Regardless of which side of the fence you believe we are on, this month’s Qualitymakes the argument that progress has and is being made in metrology and quality control with our feature articles “The Classic Gage” and “A User’s Guide to Video Extensometers” and we’ll let you decide. Also check out the first of many market analysis articles from Frost & Sullivan, “Material Testing Equipment Market-Tried, Tested and Thriving.”

As always, enjoy and thanks for reading!

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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