Redefining Measurement

Journal Thread #3 / Prompt 1 - Made to Measure

What pathways might lead to a career in metrology?

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Title of Activity:

Journal Thread #3 / Prompt 1 - Made to Measure

Curriculum Collection

NIST: Universal Constants, Introduction


Students begin to explore the academic pathways which might lead to a career in metrology.

Target Grade Level:

Grades 8-12

Discipline or Course:

All Areas

Time Frame:

One 45-minute session 

Suggested Grouping:


Key Vocabulary:

  • Metrologist
  • Precision

Teacher Prep:

This journal prompt is intended to help students think more broadly about metrology, and understand that it is a career field that takes many forms.

The most important characteristic of a successful response is diversity; students should understand that there are many paths and variations in preparation.

If all of the responses students make point to PhD paths, encourage them to think again.

The rubric can be modified for student, whole class, or teacher use. Make sure that students consider both careers that require extensive college preparation as well as technical careers that facilitate on-the-job learning.

Possible Rubric





Asking questions

No thoughtful questions to probe student interest

Fewer than 3 questions or all questions are similar

The response includes diverse questions to recognize that there are many pathways to a career in metrology

Understanding preparation paths

No informed understanding of how to prepare for a career

Responses are limited to narrow paths to PhD-level jobs

The response suggests an understanding of diverse paths to metrology

Recognition of the diversity of interests

No indication of diverse talents and pathways

Two different pathways are described: professional and technical

The responses would encourage students to consider many pathways



The metrologists you met in the video came to NIST from different pathways. Watch the video again and pay attention to their backgrounds: What sorts of interests did they have as younger students that led them to metrology? What academic pathways did they follow?

Next, look at the other jobs described in the chart. Use your imagination. What interests do you think these people had when they were your age that made them interested in measurement as a career? What studies would have prepared them for the work?

Now, think of a different career that involves measurement. It could be your dream job! Fill in the talents or interests that might lead to that career and the preparation you believe would be best to get you there.

Metrology Career



Academic preparation

Toby Herman, NIST


Chemistry and Physics

Darine Haddad, NIST


Electrical Engineering

Patrick Egan, NIST



Video - Meet Dan Sawyer NIST


Quality control manager, drug manufacturing


Training technician, baseball team


Mechanic for a NASA Probe Project


Production manager for a fashionable line of shoes


Prosthetics technician who serves remote populations


(Your Idea)


Last, imagine you are a high school counselor. A student asks if a career focusing on measurement is a good choice.

  • Formulate three questions you might ask the student to learn more about their interests and skills.
  • Create a short description of what someone might do as a metrologist.
  • Finish up by suggesting some study or practice that the student might undertake to explore the career a little more.