We restructured an existing required, two-credit advanced laboratory course around the subject matter of metrology and design of experiments. Here, we present a significant extension from work that was presented in 2013. The course now uses international standards and terminology as set in documents from the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology (JCGM) to guide students in the description and execution of experiments. Students learn to use appropriate vocabulary as defined in the “VIM,” and handle uncertainty using the process described in the “GUM.” Students advance through a rotation of experiments that involve topics from mechanics, optics, electronics and quantum optics. The course follows a progressive structure by starting with conceptually simpler experiments designed to show the effects that the design of the experiment can have on the final result and its uncertainty. These early labs allow students to focus on concepts including Type A and Type B uncertainties; systematic errors; standard uncertainty and combined standard uncertainty; coverage factor; and the propagation of uncertainty. Students also begin to track uncertainty with a rudimentary uncertainty budget. For the rest of the course, the experiments become more open-ended and complex, and the students continue to apply the concepts learned in the first half of the semester. In this paper we will describe how focus on quality of measurement has affected students’ ability to design and analyze experiments, and will discuss plans for future improvement.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.