The following summary of the mission and activities of the US Metric Association (USMA) is intended to show why it’s worth becoming a member in order to support these activities and perhaps to become involved in some of these activities.
It is important to be aware that paying dues and belonging to an association is a two-way street. It brings benefits to the members and allows them to support issues they believe in. At the same time, there are activities for the advancement of the goals of the association that individuals cannot possibly do alone. Dues paid by members provide the funds for the organization to carry out such activities.
Mission of the USMA
The US Metric Association (USMA) advocates completion of the ongoing US conversion to the metric system, officially known as the International System of Units (SI).
To accomplish this mission, the purpose and objectives for which the corporation is organized shall be:
(From the Metric Association Articles of Incorporation, Colorado, 1973)
- To furnish a national medium for uniting the efforts of individuals, societies, educational and research institutions, professional associations and government agencies interested in promoting the use of the metric system of measurement.
- To determine the best ways and means for the adoption of the metric system in the United States.
- To prepare, publish and otherwise disseminate such information to the general public as will set forth the advantages of early adoption and use of the metric system.
- To prepare and publish training aids for teaching the metric system in schools and to the general public.
- To broaden and sustain interest in the use of the metric system by means of meetings, lectures, discussions and audio-visual education and to publish bulletins, pamphlets, newsletters and correspondence.
- To offer citations and awards to individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions in the promotion of the use of the metric system.
Status of metric usage in the United States (a summary)
Many people do not realize the extent of metric usage in the United States. Here are some facts about metric in the US:
- Metric is now required along with inch-pound units on most consumer products. (See USMA’s Consumer Products page for examples of products packaged in rounded metric quantities, as well as many other products that are measured in metric.)
- About 50% of measures in the US are metric. (Many of those measures are used in the fields of science, engineering, manufacturing, and international trade.)
- All inch-pound measures are defined and calibrated to the SI metric system. (Inch-pound units are currently based, by the US government, on the metric system.)
- Metric is used predominantly in the rest of the world, with the US being the only major holdout. (See USMA’s International page for how most other English-speaking countries switched in the 1970s and are now using metric.)
- The Metric Conversion Act, first passed in 1975 and amended in 1988, is still in effect in the US (The metric system is the preferred system of measurement in the US, and is encouraged by the government.)
Metrication activities of the USMA (a summary)
- Presenting private sector information and resources at federal, state and local government metric committee meetings.
- Furnishing assistance to industry, education, government, and consumers in securing metric data and in planning metric conversion.
- Coordinating with the US Department of Education, state education agencies, schools, and educators to expedite the metric training of students for filling industry’s needs.
- Distributing metric information to news broadcast media, publishers, metric training-aid and film/video producers.
- Working with consumers and consumer groups to help ensure their views and concerns are addressed during the metric changeover.
- Helping individual states to effect an efficient transition to metric system use.
- Supplying a service to employers and employees with the USMA Certified Metrication Specialist (CMS) program.
- Providing regional science fair judges and awards to high schools throughout the US
- Publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, Metric Today.
Activities of the USMA (in more detail)
1. Cooperation with Government
USMA has developed lines of communication with people in positions of authority in federal and state governments, both legislative and executive branches. These people have provided valuable support in the progress toward full metrication of the US
These government people rely on and respect the authoritative news and information from USMA which may not be available to them through other channels. They use that information to assist them in their efforts to promote metrication. Because these lines of communication were well established, and because USMA leaders are recognized for their authoritative knowledge of the metric system and related issues, these USMA leaders have, on numerous occasions, been called upon to testify before (or otherwise present information to) Congressional committees and other legislative and regulatory bodies.
Through this coordination with people in government, USMA has been effective in accomplishing metric conversion gains which otherwise might not have occurred. USMA’s efforts on behalf of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 were recognized by President Gerald Ford’s awarding, to USMA, a commemorative pen which was used to sign that bill. USMA’s work toward the metric transition also helped ensure the inclusion in the 1988 Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of a mandate that all government agencies convert to metric by 1992.
USMA was one of the main forces in getting the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act amended in 1992 to require metric in package labels. It was necessary to compromise so that the act also required inch-pound contents to be given, but at least the FPLA now states that metric units must be included on labels.
USMA’s affiliations with people in authority in state and federal government also serve to provide the USMA with up-to-date information on a variety of metric developments. This information is then reported in the association’s newsletter,Metric Today, keeping the USMA membership well informed.
2. Files of Metric Information
USMA maintains the largest collection of metric data available, consisting of historical files, contemporary data, and detailed technical data. From these files, USMA has furnished a wide variety of metric information to thousands of companies, businesses, government personnel, educators, consumers, the news media and others over the years.
3. Internet Services
USMA maintains a Website which supplies much useful information to anyone accessing it. This Website earned the Los Angeles Times PICK for excellence. Included in USMA’s Internet operations is a metric Listserver (Mailing List) that is open to anyone for the exchanging of metric information and comments by email. The Website is accessible at: www.us-metric.org or by the shorter alias http://www.metric.org.
4. Publishing of Metric Today
USMA publishes Metric Today, an authoritative, bi-monthly newsletter that goes to all members, to keep them up to date on current metric developments in the US and worldwide.
5. Metric Supplies and Information
USMA also makes available many metric supplies that can be used by companies to train employees and by educators to train students in using SI. Included is an easy-to-use Guide to the Use of the Metric System. In addition, USMA has a large number of puzzles and quizzes and the like that you can download and print.
6. Science Fair Award
To help keep metrication foremost in educational fields, USMA provides awards for the best use of SI by students at over 200 regional science fairs each year. Supporting the science fair award is a small group of USMA members who volunteer to judge entries for the metric award.
7. Services of Members
A number of USMA members provide services to industry, education, and other sectors by making metric presentations at conferences and meetings and providing metric training for companies and schools. They help build metric awareness in every community sector with all types of activities. Following are just a few of these activities: writing letters to the editors of newspapers; writing to their Congressional representatives with well-informed support of metric issues; presenting the pro-metric point-of-view in talks to school groups and civic groups; being interviewed by the news media and participating in TV interview shows, etc.
USMA members are well-informed for handling these types of activities due to their membership in the association, their coordination with other members and particularly as a result of their receiving the newsletter, Metric Today. USMA and its members also cooperate with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in sponsoring National Metric Week each year in the calendar week containing the date “10/10” (October tenth).
8. Metrication Specialist Certification
USMA sponsors a Certified Metrication Specialist (CMS) program that allows people to become certified as metrication specialists or advanced metrication specialists by being well versed in SI and taking a stringent test to verify it. This establishes the credentials of people who seek jobs or positions in which knowledge of the metric system is a major factor.
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