The need for Standards Education
by Chatterpaul Ramcharran
September 13, 2003
IN a world on the move, at a speed never equaled, is there time for the “luxury” of standards education? Can high-or middle-ranking company executives, already stressed and overstretched, take time off to learn about how standards work? Is it desirable to add standardization to the curriculum and “teach” it as a discipline to students? Should there be such a person as “a standardiser,” or just a “standards-educated expert”?
If one single message emerges from the picture, it is: one cannot afford not to teach standardization, at least various aspects of it, and stakeholders cannot afford not to learn how to use all the possibilities it offers to get the very most out of its potential.
Because the potentialities are so wide, education in standardization needs to find its right place, not “over-education” or “education for its own sake,” but useful education, that takes all the factors into account for strategic negotiation knowing the technical possibilities, naturally, as a start, knowledge of different cultures, knowledge of the regulatory environment, knowledge of new manufacturing techniques and the world market, as well as the constraints and possible compromises of potential opponents. Standardization has a new profile, it is no surprise that the standardiser, too, has changed, and higher, carefully angled education is part of it. There may be roads travelled that lead nowhere. But it is indispensable that the standardiser has the tools at his fingertips to gain the strategic advantages and here is where a carefully orientated standards education can give him or her the edge.
Also, we should focus not only on the university, but other educational institutions since standards-related courses are developed by individuals who may change foci, careers or retire, and thereafter, the institution may not continue with its innovative standards education.