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 May 2005 Letters to the Editor

Standards Education

I was very impressed with the interview of Dr. Chang Wook Kang in the March 2005 issue of SN, professor of engineering in South Korea, concerning the efforts of South Korea to establish standards education as a top national priority.

Given that South Korea has managed to establish a standards education program at 40 universities within a relatively short period of time, something no other nation has accomplished, I have wondered about the short-term and long-term strategic and competitive implications of the South Korean effort compared to that in U.S. schools of engineering. For example, a 2004 report by the Center for Global Standards Analysis indicated that no U.S. school of engineering has made standards education a top priority, and only a very few schools even have a standards education course.

In the recent draft U.S. Standards Strategy, published for public review in February by the American National Standards Institute, it is specifically recommended that the business, government and academic sectors make standards education a top priority. Given the fact that international standards directly affect approximately 80 percent of global product trade, making standards education a top priority will have important strategic implications for any nation that makes the effort.

My belief is that companies, industries or nations that make standards education a top priority will enjoy significant economic rewards and benefits in the years ahead. Likewise, companies, industries or nations that do not make the effort to make standards education a top priority will be far less competitive in the global economy.

There is a great deal more at stake than just technology issues. Standards are the basic building blocks for every industry in the global economy. Those who understand the global standards system(s) more completely will be in a better position to compete much more effectively.

Hopefully, the recent emphasis in the draft U.S. Standards Strategy (Item 11 - Standards Education) will make a difference in the foreseeable future.

I would be very interested in the comments of ASTM and the readers of SN on whether the significant efforts concerning standards education being made by other countries such as South Korea will make a competitive difference for their respective countries in the global economy.

Donald E. Purcell, Chairman
The Center for Global Standards Analysis
Catholic University
Washington, D.C.

Promoting the Value of Participation

The article by Kitty Pilarz in the March 2005 issue of SN titled “Avoiding Potential Pitfalls in Consumer Safety Standards Development” really impressed me. The author presented a very clear case for well-thought-out safety standards as they apply to consumer products. Her rationale for the importance of standards was very compelling.

This article should be used by ASTM as a piece of promotional material when presentations regarding the need for participation in ASTM committee activities are made to upper management. Standards do make a difference and this article states the point extremely well. The importance of multiple points of view in the development and maintenance of standards cannot be over emphasized. The airbag issues noted in the article demonstrate the critical importance of thorough research to support the development of standards. Management needs to see and hear these points to help them justify supporting participation in ASTM by their employees.

I commend Ms. Pilarz for her article and encourage ASTM management to utilize the article in its efforts to increase participation in committee activities.

Jack S. Snodgrass
Consultant

 
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