ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

Did You Know?

New York, Jul 20, 2007

Did You Know? offers a quick look at the broad scope of activities underway within the ANSI Federation, highlighting the people and initiatives making waves in standardization.

Measuring Life in “Smoots”
Oliver Smoot, former president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and chairman of the American National Standards Institute Board of Directors, is the title reference in a new book by Robert Tavernor to be released this fall, Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity.

The book charts the history of measuring systems that have been devised over the last two thousand years, from ancient Indian scales to the 1958 fraternity stunt at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that landed Smoot his first fame.

Then a freshman, Mr. Smoot was selected among the aspirants to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity to be the living measure of Harvard Bridge, lending his name—and body—to the “smoot”--a unit of length equal to his height (5 feet, 7 inches). Using him as a ruler, the task required the others to count the number of “smoots” that made up the bridge. The answer: 364.4 smoots, plus one ear. The markers remain to this day.

Mr. Smoot’s commitment to the cause of standardization has made him a key figure in the standards community. In addition to his role as chairman of the ANSI Board of Directors, Smoot held numerous other ANSI leadership posts, including chair of ANSI’s Finance Committee, Organizational Member Council, and the ANSI Patent Group. In 2006, he was awarded the George S. Wham Leadership Medal, which honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the voluntary standardization community and provided long-term direction and visionary qualities in support of the ANSI Federation.

Samuel E. Chappell, Legal Metrology Expert, Dies, Age 76
Samuel E. Chappell, 76, a leading authority on weights and measures, passed away June 28 of cancer-related pneumonia at Georgetown University Hospital. Born in Abingdon, VA, he resided in Washington, DC, for forty-five years.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on legal metrology, Dr. Chappell’s career spanned thirty-eight years with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), including thirteen years as head of the Office of Technical Standards Activities. His department studied and maintained standards for a broad range of measuring devices, including gasoline pumps, grocery store scales, and police breath-testing equipment.

Dr. Chappell joined NIST (then the National Bureau of Standards) as a member of the Radiation Division in 1962. He was involved in research and development for ten years, furthering radiation measurement related to materials processing, device testing, and food preservation. He later focused on national and international standards development and served as the U.S. representative to the International Organization of Legal Metrology, receiving the organization's highest award. After retiring from federal service in 2000, Dr. Chappell became a consultant and an expert witness in the field of legal measuring instruments.

Dr. Chappell was active in several leading industry organizations, including the National Conference on Weights and Measures, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ASTM International, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). He was also an active member of ANSI's appeals board, which serves as the final level of appeal at ANSI.

Dr. Chappell is survived by his wife of twenty-nine years, Julianne, and his son, Benjamin, both of Washington, D.C., and his brother Robert Daniel Chappell of Abingdon and Chilhowie, Virginia.

ANSI Publishes Overview of the U.S. Standardization System, Second Edition
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published the second edition of its Overview of the U.S. Standardization System: Voluntary Consensus Standards and Conformity Assessment Activities. A valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand the U.S. commitment to voluntary consensus standards and related conformity assessment programs, the document describes the ins and outs of the U.S. standardization system, highlighting its flexibility, openness, balance and responsiveness.

Illustrating how standards and compliance programs have become a primary facilitator of commerce, the basis of a sound national economy, and the key to global market access, the Overview explains how events of the past century have helped to shape the U.S. approach to standardization. In particular, the document describes how the decentralized, flexible, sector-based, and market-driven system responds to changing market needs, while helping to support U.S. innovation and competitiveness in the global marketplace. The Overview is available on ANSI Online for download, and may be freely shared.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel