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Thursday, February 16, 2012

World Standards Cooperation Academic Day.

It is amazing how the calendar fills up.  In an era when budgets are tight and travel is still beleaguered with extreme security, there is always another international opportunity for Quality connections.  Today I was introduced to World Standards Cooperation (WSC) Academic Day (WSCAD) which will be held in Bali Indonesia in May 2012.  In many respects this should probably be a “must do” on my calendar. 

World Standard Cooperation Day is different from World Standards Day.  The latter, has occurred each year since 1970.  It is said that October 14th was selected for WSD because it commemorates the meeting held in London in 1946 at which it was decided to develop and organization committed to international standards.  That may well be true, but I suspect that the selection of that day was not totally by accident since it also happens to be W. Edwards Deming’s birthday (October 14, 1900).  In Canada we will be having an event in Ottawa near October 14th (this year the 14th falls on a Sunday).  Traditionally WSD has a poster competition.  While it has not been announced yet for 2012, I have been thinking about possible entries already. 

World Standard Cooperation was added to WSD in 2001.  It was developed as a joint effort between the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in order to strengthen and advance the voluntary consensus-based international standards systems.  It is an annual event marked with conferences and workshops.  We are looking to hold an event in 2013. 

WSC is not tied to a specific day or to a specific topic, other than the generic topic of standards promotion.  For example, in 2012 I am aware of at least 2 events, one being on application of standardization in the auto industry.  The other event is the subject of this posting.

World Standards Cooperation Academic Day (WSCAD) was started in 2010 at which time it was an Academic Week hosted in Geneva in July.  Last year it was held as an Academic Day in Hangzhou China in June and this year will be held in Bali Indonesia in May.  The purpose of WSCAD is to “promote and foster dialogue and cooperation between academic institutions and the international standards community”.  This is a brilliant idea with huge potential.  It is such a good idea that if it didn’t already exist I would invent it myself, and in a way I have with the development of the UBC Program Office for Laboratory Quality Management and our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) approved Certificate Course in Laboratory Quality Management, and our upcoming Masters in Laboratory Quality Management, and our Quality Weekend Workshops.

International Standardization is a perfect fit with academia.  It is a topic that I am strongly committed to.  In 2009 I gave a presentation at an ASQ conference in Vancouver entitled “Medical Laboratory Quality: a valuable university based endeavour” making the point that Quality has elements of research, education and outreach or service which meets all the needs of a successful academic program.   My personal experience was that over 27 years we had generated sustained growth, activity, funding, education, service, research and development, and collaborations.  Despite that my observation at that time was that, at least in Canada, universities were quite resistant to the validity of Quality as a topic-of-interest, in part because it was new, and it was trapped in a chicken-and-egg dynamic.  There was no tangible research funding for Quality issues because there was little interest, and there was little interest because there was not tangible funding. 

That has changed and in the last week we have been pre-occupied with completing grants submissions which if successful will provide support to the POLQM. 

Now we find out that over the last 3 years there has been an international movement to support and promote exactly what we have been doing here in our little silo, disconnected and independent of most other universities (University of Leuven in Belgium taken as one exception.)  Hooray!!

I may not be able to attend this year (one of my sons has his graduation ceremony on the same day) but I will likely find someone to attend in our stead.  This is too big a deal for us to miss.



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