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 September 2005 Standards in Education
Teresa Cendrowska is director of external relations in ASTM International’s Global Cooperation division.

Lindsey Biddle is ASTM’s summer 2005 academic outreach intern. She is studying business and psychology at Washington and Jefferson College, and will be studying in Wales in fall 2005. She is active in W&J’s diving team, Asian Student Association, and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

The New Face of ASTM International’s Academic Outreach

ASTM International has enhanced its Web site offerings for student members and academicians through its new online ASTM Campus, newly launched this month. This article discusses the need for a greater focus on standardization in college and university curricula and how the ASTM campus will facilitate awareness of standards for both students and educators.

The inclusion of basic standards education in engineering and technical curricula is increasingly viewed as a means of conveying competitive advantage to companies and countries worldwide. Couple this recognition with the fact that ABET, Inc., the recognized U.S. accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology, requires that standards be incorporated into the major design experience, and you’ll understand why standards organizations are taking steps to enhance university-level students’ exposure to and understanding of standards.

In introducing the new student membership category in the March 2003 issue of SN, ASTM International President James Thomas wrote, “A hundred years of progress doesn’t happen by chance. It takes foresight and planning. The future must always be taken care of today, and right now, tomorrow’s technical experts are in a university somewhere. Our future is in college.”

An Enhanced Program

Cognizant of the aforementioned issues, ASTM International is working to enhance its academic outreach and build on the student membership offering that was initiated two years ago. An internal task group, with the aid of a summer student intern, set about learning how ASTM can facilitate standards education for those who instruct students at the university level, create recognition of ASTM International in the university environment, and encourage and enable student members to transition into technical committee participation after graduation.

The ASTM student membership option is provided at no cost to individuals enrolled in full-time graduate or undergraduate programs to encourage and enable students to learn about ASTM through the Web site and SN. ASTM has recognized that a broader community needs to be served and that additional information needs to be presented in a more dynamic format.

By expanding its educational initiative, ASTM will meet not only the students’ and professors’ needs to understand standards, but also the needs of consumers and professionals to understand the basics of standardization. ASTM’s academic outreach will educate anyone who uses or benefits from standards in their careers by facilitating an understanding of standards, their value, development, implementation.

A New Home on the Web

This expansion of ASTM’s educational focus necessitated an equivalent expansion of the student membership concept. The result is the online ASTM Campus. The campus will have four components: Student Membership, Student Forum, Professor’s Podium, and Standards 101.

The Student Membership page offers the same no-cost membership established in 2003 and explains benefits, which include a subscription to SN and free attendance at ASTM symposia, as well as the opportunity to transition into full membership at a reduced fee for the first year after graduation. The student membership application is available for download here.

The Student Forum section introduces, through an interview format, professionals from various fields who use ASTM standards in their careers, providing insight into how familiarity with standards and involvement in ASTM technical committees can benefit job placement and career success. Students will also have an opportunity to relay their experiences with ASTM standards through the Tell Your Standards Story link. The Student Forum also provides information about student awards and scholarships sponsored by various ASTM technical committees.

To serve the interests of professors, a Professor’s Podium has been incorporated into the online campus. This section features articles from academics regarding standards education. It also includes Professor’s Insights where academic members of ASTM International provide the details of how they have incorporated their ASTM experience into the classroom. We anticipate that this portion of the Web site will grow to include tutorials and tools that facilitate the use of ASTM standards in the classroom. We are gathering information on the needed tools and resources through roundtables and interviews conducted with professors.

The last component of the Web site, the aptly named Standards 101 section, contains a wealth of fundamental information about standards. This resource provides basic explanations of standardization and the ASTM process as well as links to information on standardization contained throughout the ASTM Web site. If you need to know about the various types of ASTM International standards or the significance of their designations, or require access to the guidance documents for regulating committee operation and formatting standards, Standards 101 will serve your needs.

Thanks to electronic surveys, we will continue to gather input from student members to understand how the ASTM Campus can evolve to better meet their needs.

Helpful information on standards in education is not confined to the Web site, but is also included in SN. Articles focused on standards in education have already appeared in the March, July and August issues of SN together with another feature article planned for October. On a regular basis, SN will include reports on outreach activities under way or conducted by ASTM.

Your comments and ideas for this page are always welcome. Please contact Teresa Cendrowska, ASTM director of external relations (phone: 610/832-9718). //

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