By Richard Comerford, email@example.com
Most people would recognizes the names Thomas Edison, or Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs and be able to tell you what contributions they made to technology. But if you mentioned the names Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, or Karl Ferdinand Braun, or Howard Vollum, you’d probably get a blank stare. The first three men are well known because they invented things that people come into contact with every day. But that latter gentlemen invented things that most people have not heard of: the galvanometer, the oscilloscope, and the oscilloscope trigger.
The irony is that the first three could never have succeeded without the work of the second three. All of the technologies we have today owe their existence to the people who created instruments with which to measure and test those technologies. Yet even today, the people who are inventing new and more advanced measurement instruments work largely in obscurity.
You have to ask yourself why these individuals would choose to work in the test and measurement field, passing up the potential glory of working in, say, consumer electronics. Anyone who has ever spent time with them will tell you they are some of the brightest people around; they can make technology work beyond what it is generally thought to be capable of. They can be presented with the most advanced, smallest, and fastest devices — ones that will not become commercially available until sometime in the future — and find a way to measure them accurately today, with the current technology.
I suppose you could say they’re crazy to pass up potential fame, but the T&M people I’ve met are completely rational. What they really love is the challenge of being able to solve complex problems with any resources they can bring to bear. It’s sort of an engineering tour de force, showing that you can devise a way to make a measurement accurately and reliably that many of your peers would not be able to.
In this issue we celebrate test and measurement, and those whose work appears here represent an elite group who can tackle the most difficult challenges that technology can throw at them. It may not bring fame and fortune, but it is surely a labor of love.