Applied Measurements Engineering Short Course

How to Design and Operate Effective Automated Measurement Systems for the Assurance of Valid Test Data


How do you know your mechanical engineering test measurements are valid? Since NIST Traceability actually guarantees very little about your test data, how do you know? Can you prove your data’s validity to yourself and your customer? What are the right measurement solutions for your static and dynamic testing requirements? Is it really as simple as the vendors say? What is your real cost of invalid, ambiguous data causing retest or redesign or, worst of all, customer doubt? How do you effectively educate yourself and your staff about test measurements of crucial mechanical engineering quantities when universities can’t help you and your experience base is declining?

This three day short course is for engineers, scientists, analysts and managers who must answer those questions and use those systems to make and understand experimental test measurements on a daily basis. The course will teach you the engineering principles underlying design and operation of effective computer-driven measurement systems that provide demonstrably valid test data on purpose, the first time, and on your tight test budget and schedule.

These fundamental and underlying engineering principles governing the design and operation of effective systems for test measurements are explained using real-world examples. Understanding these critical design and data validation principles, not taught in American universities, allows you to field effective measurement systems with both today’s and tomorrow’s hardware and software.

The result, in your laboratory, will be skilled people running more effective testing programs, generating demonstrably valid and unambiguous data on time, lowered design verification risk, cost and cycle time, and delighted customers. Attendees receive an 800+ page workbook. The instructor’s book, Applied Measurements Engineering - How to Design Effective Measurement Systems (Prentice Hall) can be supplied by arrangement.


Charles Wright, founder of the Measurements Engineering Department at a major satellite manufacturer, has three decades of successful experience in the design and operation of advanced multi-channel, computer-driven measurement systems for mechanical engineering test and evaluation. This work is surely founded on the Unified Approach to the Engineering of Measurement Systems. He developed the knowledge-based measurement system concept as the highest expression of systems design and operational performance.

He has delivered this course all over the United States to engineers, scientists, managers and educators from various industrial and university settings. He published 77 technical papers on measurement system design, operation and test process improvement. As contributing editor of Personal Engineering and Instrumentation News, he published 42 bimonthly expert columns on Data Acquisition from 1991 through 2000.

Prentice Hall published his book Applied Measurements Engineering -- How to Design Effective Measurement Systems in 1995. Education: BSME/MS Measurements Engineering, Arizona State University; MS Management, University of Southern California.

Charles Wright
Applied Measurements Engineering

310-541-6787 fax
888-204-6329 pager


What You Will Learn

  • How to guarantee your data
  • How to identify and prevent 40% errors in 0.1% systems! Surprise!
  • How to set the measurement system transfer function to assure valid data
  • How to construct the system transfer function from components
  • The intra-component interactions that can kill your data
  • Design rules for waveshape and spectral reproduction of data
  • The deadly and hidden price you’ll pay if your transfer functions don’t follow the rules
  • Self and non-self-generating transducer responses — How they really work
  • Two models that explain and unify transducer and component responses
  • Foolproof methods for noise level isolation, control and documentation
  • A reasoned approach to measurements uncertainty
  • What NIST traceability really guarantees
  • The thirteen things you have to understand and control before you can sample properly
  • How to absolutely eliminate deadly aliasing
  • What you owe your customer. What your customer owes you.
  • How to delight your customers before, during and after the test

Course Outline

  1. Basic Measurements Concepts.
    Fourteen real measurements horror stories and why they happened. Examples from across the testing spectrum. Measurements or instrumentation? Data validity or data accuracy? Real world examples.
  2. Component Transfer Functions.
    Frequency and phase responses — much more complicated and sensitive than most think. First, second and higher order systems. Single-degree-of-freedom systems and damping. Output/Input linearity.
  3. Building System Transfer Functions & Boundary Condition Control.
    Building system level transfer functions from components. Crucial and usually hidden intercomponent impedance mismatch issues. Hidden transfer functions that drive system performance. Boundary condition control. Conditions of use versus calibration. Static and dynamic measurement examples.
  4. Design Rules for Frequency Content (Spectral) or Waveshape Reproduction?
    Design rules for spectral [x = f(w )] versus waveshape [x=f(t)] reproduction. What price do you pay if you violate the rules?
  5. Transducer Response Mechanisms.
    Measurement system response syndromes – Why you want less than 1/6th of the information available. Non-self-generating responses. Impedance based responses. Self-generating responses. Piezoelectric and thermoelectric responses. The gradient approach to thermoelectric responses. The basic transducer model. Spatial and cross-axis effects.
  6. Signal Conditioning for Self and Non-Self-Generated Responses.
    History of the Wheatstone bridge and the bonded resistance strain gage. The Wheatstone bridge as a computer. Bridge equations. Valid shunt "calibration" methods. Two, three, up to ten wire systems. Charge and voltage conditioning for piezoelectric responses. Internally conditioned piezoelectric responses.
  7. The General Transducer Model and Noise.
    How all transducers and components really respond and why. Capabilities needed in modern signal conditioning.
  8. Noise Level Documentation and Control Methodologies.
    Bulletproof procedures to identify, control and document your noise levels. You must identify them before you can kill them. You must do both before you can validate your data.
  9. Information Conversion.
    Carrier systems and why they work. Sinusoidal and pulse train excitation for non-self-generating transducers. Zero based and zero centered pulse trains. Digital data reconstruction using pulsed excitation. Real, world-class examples of this very powerful methodology.
  10. Frequency Analysis.
    Fourier spectra. Power or auto spectral density. Octave and one-third octave analyses. Shock response spectra. What do they really tell you? What do you need to know to be in control?
  11. Sampled Measurement Systems.
    The thirteen things you must know before you sample. Nonsimultaneous or simultaneous sample and hold? How many bits do you really need? Aliasing and undersampling errors and how to prevent them. What antialiasing filters should you use and why? Fast and slow sampling models. Reconstruction methods for sparsely sampled data.
  12. Measurement System Operational Methods.
    World class examples from static, quasi-static, and dynamics testing. Independent span verification.
  13. Data Validation Methods.
    How do you know your data is valid? How to use your software to answer the question. Automated data validation methods. Back of envelope methods.
  14. Knowledge-Based System Design Principles.
    The highest level of measurement system design.
  15. A Reasoned Approach to Measurements Uncertainty.
    The real game is defining what component uncertainties to put in your error propagation. Real world examples.
  16. Leadership & Management Issues.
    How to manage your management.
  17. The Crucial Stuff They Didn't Teach in Your College Engineering Education.
    The subjects of craft, skill, vision, responsibility and professionalism as they relate to test measurements.

Written Quotes from Recent Course Attendees

"Course was so useful, I’m going to try and get it into the company’s educational cycle".

Big Three Automotive Testing Ground
"Well developed course materials. Very pertinent to today’s measurement and test problems. Good examples used. Instructor was very good. Good analogies, examples, presentation style".

Government marine research organization
"Very good overall approach to measurements engineering. Not too much detail. (Instructor’s) knowledge in the area is apparent…Lessons learned are great".

Major Aerospace Contractor
"Lots of relevant topics covered. Presentation of topics shows how to apply techniques, rather than illustrate exact circumstances case-by-case. (Teaches how to fish rather than giving us a fishing rod). Clear presentation of topics. Willing to expand on points as questions came up".

Manufacturer Of Acoustic Products
"From a mechanical engineering perspective, (strength was) an enhanced understanding for why strain gages, thermocouples, accels, high frequency pressure transducers are used to measure and document performance of hardware. Opportunities to gain this insight were not possible in my 7½ years in the aerospace industry. (Instructor was) concise, intuitive, direct and comprehensive".

Major Aerospace Contractor
"I believe this course opened the eye of some management and engineers at this facility".

National Laboratory
"Good overall view of data validation. Very eye-opening on the proper way to do business".

National Laboratory
"(Course) stresses the ultimate responsibility of the test engineer and proper pre-testing set-up. Outstanding knowledge, very broad range across basics of testing".

MajorAerospace Contractor
"(Instructor has) Very good general coverage of data system ‘quality.’ Seems very knowledgeable in the field. Presentation is dynamic. Visual test demonstrations are very effective and interesting".

Major Aerospace Contractor
"Outstanding basis in methodology for (test) measurement sciences. Chuck knows his stuff and communicates it very effectively".

Manufacturer Of Electric Forklifts
"Excellent, the best"!

Major Aerospace Contractor
"Too much Info! Too little time! Knowledge and presentation style was outstanding".

Major Aerospace Contractor
Recent & Scheduled Short Courses
Educational Sponsorship (6)
University of California at Los Angeles (multiple)
University of Colorado
Texas Christian University (multiple)
Industrial Sponsorship (13)
Golf Equipment Manufacturer
Automotive Proving Grounds (multiple)
Diesel Heavy Equipment Manufacturer (multiple)
Engine Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturer
Instrumentation Manufacturers (multiple)
Satellite Manufacturer (multiple)
Government Sponsorships (16)
National Weapons/Physics Laboratories (multiple)
National Nuclear Propulsion Laboratory
Military Flight Test Centers (multiple)
National Propulsion Laboratory
National Wind Energy Test Center
Military Cold Weather Test Center
Launch Vehicle Manufacturer
Aerospace Testing Seminar (multiple)
Open Courses (23)
Detroit, MI (multiple)
Washington, DC (multiple)
Cocoa Beach, FL
Las Vegas, NV
Stein Engineering Services Short Courses, Scottsdale AZ (12 years)
Sensors Expo, Sensors Magazine (multiple)
Shock & Vibration Seminars (multiple)

Charles Wright
Applied Measurements Engineering

310-541-6787 fax
888-204-6329 pager


For more information about this training contact:

Phone: 607-277-3550