Isobel Pollock (Président of IMechE 2012-2013} Sport, heaith, cooking, space, clothes and transportatîon.Thîs may seem a disparate list of activities or items, but they ail hâve one common thème: measurement. Yet, for most of us, measurement is something we probably seldom thinkabout. Often we are unaware of the constant measuring that we do in our daily lives, and how it is the fundamental basis that enables us to make choices and décisions.
Do we need ever more accurate measurements? Surely there’s no need as we hâve ail the units of measurement necessary?Tîme, distance, température and mass
hâve ail been set and agreed. What possible benefits do we gain from ever more research and understanding about measurement?
In the engineering and science professions, measurement, accuracy and précision are of paramount importance, as they are the basis of what wedo and how we do it.
Récognition of the need for accurate and appropriate information through measurement goes right backto 1847 atthetime ofthefounding ofthe Institution of Mechanical Engineers.Then, Sir Joseph Whîtworth recognîsed the need to create and apply measurement standards across complex engineering assemblîes.
Without thèse he was acutely aware ofthe détriment to machine performance and making items fit together better.
Measurement is not just a tool for determinîng quantities, the physîcal sîze of things, the time taken, or the units used in counting. Measurement is fundamental to control, to improvement and to vérification. We measure success, and faîlure, and often base our actions on judgements that arîse from measurement. It is far more powerfu 11 han just a set of numbers on a scale, and by exploîtîng the value of measurement we, as engîneers, can achîeve more.
A vital example is clîmate change. We need to apply ourselves to help quantîfy one ofthe great issues of our âge. There are far-reachîng benefits in solvîng the challenges ahead. We should seize the opportunîtîes for engîneers to provide the measurements that matter. Indeed, the lack of agreed measurements and
standards in thîs area is a materîal hîndrancetothedevelopment of engineering solutions to climate change.
There has never been a better time to be an engîneer. We make up just 7% ofthe UK population, but contrîbute 11% ofthe gross domestîc product.111 Nowthere’s a measurement to remember!