Big Problem Perspectives Working Group

Standards Management and Education

Standards have always been critical to ensure safety, consistency, and interoperability. Their role with globalization, the emergence and convergence of technologies, and systems that cross traditional boundaries has become much more significant and complex.

Companies that fail to participate in standards development risk competitive disadvantage or even being unable to market products. Standards can inhibit innovation or provide enabling platforms and investor confidence. They can pull technology advance or support catch up by developing countries. Key issues can be subtle and best conveyed through experiential exercises. With organizational, cultural, legal, strategic, economic, political, and technical dimensions, many disciplines have relevance but the topic is poorly covered even in business and engineering schools.

Activities, including a series of industry-academic workshops held at universities across the country, have been supported by funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with early collaboration from the Global Advanced Technology Innovation Consortium (GATIC.) These sources also enabled the launch of a standards education focused website.

Emphasis is on presenting standards in their full operational and decisions contexts with emphasis on high profile emerging "smart" systems (as well as innovation & entrepreneurship, engineering design, supply chain, and sustainability.) The website offers links to related papers and teaching materials including a course module and simple standards negotiation exercise we evolved. It also includes a high-powered, diverse and active advisory group and a discussion forum with sections related to targeted areas as well as open discussion on teaching implications.