Columbus metrology lab to benefit students, manufacturers

Purdue's College of Technology at Columbus is giving students an opportunity to fill a major void in the manufacturing industry by offering classes specializing in measurement.

The classes are possible because of a new metrology lab at the Community Education Coalition (CEC) Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCE) in Columbus. It has the most extensive resources of any metrology lab in the Midwest.

“The closest match to [the CEC’s metrology lab] is the University of North Carolina’s metrology lab in Charlotte, which may be the best metrology lab in the world,” said Joe Fuehne, director of the Purdue University College of Technology at Columbus. Fuehne and the College of Technology oversee the operation of the lab.

Manufacturing industries need precise measurements to make their products work as efficiently and properly as possible.

“Metrology is something we in engineering technology can teach very well. People don’t understand how important it is to measure things,” Fuehne said. “We’re dealing with a part of manufacturing that is overlooked and not taught very often. We have the opportunity here to fill a big void in the manufacturing community.”

Ivy Tech Columbus, CoT at Columbus and Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus students will be able to use the lab. Classes in the lab will focus on the manufacturing processes and use the equipment to measure parts to make sure they fit manufacturing parameters.

The lab will not only focus on manufacturing processes. An Indiana University nursing graduate student, for example, is currently using the lab to find a better way to extract fluid from a patient’s stomach. She is testing how tiny variations in medical equipment placement could affect readings and endanger lives.

In the future, Fuehne hopes that companies who do not have the resources to purchase metrology equipment will use the lab for their measuring needs.

“The main function of the metrology lab is to make sure that a part that has a specific function was made the way it is supposed to be made,” said Fuehne.

According to American Society of Mechanical Engineers rules, the CEC’s metrology lab has a constant temperature of 20° C (68°F), ±1° C, and a humidity of 32 percent. The lab also has a positive pressure equivalent to a water depth of 0.7 inches so that when the door is opened the air rushes out and not in. All of this is to keep the lab clean and the readings consistent.

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