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 October 2005 Global Notebook

Standards Move Up in Top-10 Issues of Importance for U.S. Companies Doing Business in China

Standards have moved up the ladder of concerns among the members of the U.S.-China Business Council, according to the findings of the 2005 USCBC member survey. Since 2001, the USCBC has surveyed its members annually to gauge the importance of the People’s Republic of China to U.S. companies with global operations, and to assess China’s implementation efforts since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. Standards moved up from eighth place to sixth in the top-10 list of operating issues in China, though the survey reflected mixed feelings about whether there had been improvement or stagnation in China’s implementation of internationally accepted standards. At the top of the USCBC survey results are intellectual property rights enforcement, distribution rights, and transparency. U.S. companies also feel that the Chinese government is doing a “fair” to “good” job in implementing its WTO obligations. Click here to read the full report of survey results.

USTDA Grant Supports Railway Component Standards Harmonization in Russia

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency announced that it has awarded a $291,664 grant to the Russian Federal Agency of Railway Transport to fund technical assistance to facilitate the harmonization of selected U.S. and Russian railroad car and component standards. The harmonization of standards would allow U.S. manufacturers interested in selling their components in Russia to have their products tested and certified by the Transportation Technology Center, which is owned by the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration and operated and maintained by the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads. The grant was conferred at a signing ceremony at the U.S. Embassy. In May 2001, Russia’s government launched a program to fundamentally reform its railway system over the next decade, including separating the ownership function from the regulatory function. Rail is critical to the Russian economy, providing vital transportation across the country: 80 percent of all freight and 40 percent of passenger travel is carried by rail.

Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition

The Extrusion Technology for Aluminum Profiles Foundation has announced the 2006 International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, the goal of which is to promote the understanding and use of extruded aluminum profiles, as well as to highlight innovations and recognize excellence in aluminum extrusion design. Aluminum extruders, professional designers, engineers and manufacturers of aluminum extruded products, as well as students studying design and engineering are eligible to participate. Winning entries will be those that demonstrate the benefits of aluminum extrusions, whether by inventing a new product or improving an existing one. The entry deadline will be in February 2006.

NIST Measurements Improve Prospects for International Redefinition of the Kilogram

An experimental method for defining the kilogram in terms of properties of nature is now more accurate than ever. The advance may move the scientific community closer to redefining the kilogram, the only one of the seven basic units of the international measurement system still defined by a physical artifact. Scientists at NIST and other institutions around the world have spent years conducting experiments to find a reliable definition based in nature to replace the current international standard for the kilogram, a century-old cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy about the size of a plum. The new results mean that the NIST method, using an apparatus called the watt balance or electronic kilogram, is almost accurate enough now to meet the criteria for redefinition. The latest NIST work, described in the October 2005 issue of Metrologia and published online, confirms the institute’s 1998 results using the same method while reducing the measurement uncertainty by about 40 percent, thanks mainly to improvements in the hardware used in the experiments. Any decision about when and how to redefine the kilogram would be made by an international group, the International Committee for Weights and Measures, CIPM, and ratified by a General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), which next meets in 2007. The measurements reported in Metrologia are the product of numerous improvements in NIST’s watt balance, including reconstruction of most of the hardware to eliminate many sources of error.

Entrepreneurship Challenge

The Materials Research Society has launched the MRS Entrepreneurship Challenge, an international competition pairing students and professional materials scientists and engineers with business school students to develop concepts for materials-based start-up companies. The grand prize is $3,000 and the top three teams will additionally receive travel funding to present entries at the 2006 MRS meeting in San Francisco. The deadline for registration is Nov. 1. //

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