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WSW Symposium: Fostering Partnerships to Integrate Standards into College Curricula


This month, more than 100 attendees joined a symposium in Washington, DC, on the theme, Fostering Partnerships to Integrate Standards into College Curricula in the U.S. The event was part of ANSI's 2019 World Standards Week schedule of events, and brought together participants from industry, government, the standards community, and academia to examine how to better prepare students and young professionals for careers in standardization. The symposium was organized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in partnership with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

ANSI president S. Joe Bhatia explained why businesses with standards experts are empowered for greater success over their competitors. "Put simply, a new graduate who is familiar with the standards relevant to their industry and how the standardization system works is a strategic asset to their employer," he noted. Businesses equipped with standards experts "gain early access to information on emerging issues, reduce redundancies and shorten time to market, and decrease the economic risk of their R&D activities." He emphasized that in order to build an educated talent pipeline, industry, academia, and the standards community need to work together to integrate information about standardization into university curricula.

"For our standardization system to work, we must have robust participation," Mr. Bhatia said. "And without knowledge, there is no participation. It’s just as simple as that."

With this incentive in mind, the symposium focused on ways to better integrate standards learning into U.S. college curricula. Gordon Gillerman, director of the Standards Coordination Office at NIST, emphasized ways to raise awareness about standards and conformity assessment within universities. Standards, in technical terms, can seem like an abstract concept to many, but providing examples of how we interact with standards in our day-to-day lives can make standards seem more tangible, he noted. He also spoke about the many programs at and the increasing number of students graduating from universities in China, Korea, and other counties with degrees focused in standardization.

Mary Jo DiBernardo, program manager of the Standards Coordination Office at NIST, provided an overview of NIST's Standards Services Curricula Development Cooperative Agreement Program (SSCD CAP). The program provides support to U.S. colleges and universities to integrate standards and standardization content into courses, modules, seminars, and learning resources. Since the program was launched in 2012, NIST has funded 33 awards to U.S. colleges and universities totaling over two million dollars.

The first session, A Sampling of Standards in Higher Education in the U.S. Today, featured guest speakers Lisa Greenwood, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, who discussed integrating ISO risk-based standards into curricula. Kai Jin, professor and industrial engineering program coordinator at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, detailed efforts for a systematic framework for different levels of engineering students to strengthen education and learning about manufacturing related materials and quality control standards and standardization.

The session also included Bryan Hoskins, associate professor at Oklahoma State University in the fire protection engineering program, who highlighted the significance of integrating codes and standards into the learning environment. Other experts included Chittaranjan Sahay, Vernon D. Roosa distinguished professor and director at the University of Hartford, who discussed the impact of documentary and measurement standards and standardization on product development for mechanical engineering. Sankardas Roy, assistant professor at Bowling State Green University, discussed how to incorporate NIST standards in digital forensics curricula at BGSU. Claudia Vergara, director for program evaluation and assessment at the center for integrative studies in general sciences at Michigan State University, discussed how to enhance scientific literacy for non-STEM majors. Economist Erik Puskar of NIST, represented Everett Community College, and offered insights on how the NIST award helped to facilitate collaboration with ECC’s industry partners through the state’s Center of Excellence (CoE) for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing. One of the goals, he noted, was to develop a course curriculum with industry subject matter experts' input that was then embedded into advanced manufacturing/aerospace programs. Margaret Phillips, assistant professor at Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies, discussed developing an open-access, introductory-level, interactive online standards education program. The session was moderated by Jim Matthews, director at Corning Incorporated.

The session, Current and Future Roles of Standards Setting Organizations in Higher Education, moderated by Mary Saunders, ANSI vice president of government relations, included guest speakers Monte Bogatz, vice-chair of the ANSI Committee on Education (CoE) and general counsel at IAPMO. He noted how the CoE supports standards education through, ANSI’s university outreach program, its annual student paper competition, and its annual standards simulation event for university students, among other efforts. Helene Vaillancourt, vice president of the standards research and planning at CSA Group, noted CSA's Academic Challenge Program, which encourages students to share forward-looking ideas and competitive proposals about industry practices and issues that are influenced by standards.

ASTM International's director of global business development and strategy, Len Morrissey, added how ASTM provides resources for students including free membership and access to Standardization News, ASTM’s flagship magazine. It also sponsors interns and provides an "ASTM Professor's Tool Kit" to help educators promote standards in the classroom, among other initiatives. Jan-Henrik Tiedemann, head of IEC's Academy & Capacity Building, described how IEC provides training, offers webinars, eLearning, and regional and national workshops for students and the global IEC community.

How Can the Standards Community Influence Educational Outreach?

The event also featured a brainstorming session, moderated by Mary Jo DiBernardo, on how the standards community can collectively support U.S. colleges and universities to improve and increase the integration of standards into higher education. Participants identified multiple ideas, including bringing guest lecturers into the classroom and universities submitting applications to NIST under the SSCD CAP for funding collaborative approaches jointly supported by academia, industry, SDOs, and the standards community to integrate standards into the classroom. Attendees also noted other effective tools and strategies including simulation games; role playing exercises; the use of educational toolkits, which provide assistance for instructors who may not have a background in standardization; and making standards education more comprehensive.

For additional information, see the event webpage. Read about ANSI's related educational efforts: Better Together: Workcred and ANSI World Standards Week Event Examines Collaborative Solutions for the Future Workforce.


As the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) empowers its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. marketplace position in the global economy while helping to assure the safety and health of consumers and the protection of the environment.