Since first introduced in 2005, the Standards Council of Canada’s (SCC) Education Program has been growing exponentially. The program gives Canadian colleges and universities temporary, free-of-charge access to standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Anne Sharkey, SCC’s Education Program Coordinator, attended the ISO-IEC Marketing-Communications Networking Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in December of 2009. There she shared details of this successful program with other representatives of the international standardization community.
She sat down to discuss the program with colleagues.
Q: How many post-secondary institutions have agreements with SCC’s Education Program?
Sharkey: In this fiscal year, we have 45 agreements in place, so far.
In order to monitor the usage and better protect the intellectual property of the Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), we sign agreements for a maximum of one year only.
Q: How does that compare to the program launch year of 2005?
Sharkey: In 2005-2006, we had three agreements; in 2006-2007, we had 15. Since then we have doubled every year. By the end of 2009-2010, I expect that we will have about 100 agreements.
Q: That’s a very fast growth rate. To what do you attribute it?
Sharkey: For starters, it’s an excellent program; and it’s free. That is especially important to universities and colleges who need to watch their bottom lines closely. As well, it certainly helps that professors and instructors are pleased with the program and are actively encouraging others to participate in it.
Q: What study areas use SCC’s Education Program the most?
Sharkey: Information technology, engineering, social sciences, quality assurance, and environmental studies stand out. There you find people talking about the program, how it fits in with their field of study, and the competitive advantage that standards knowledge will give them when they enter the workforce.
Q: Where did the idea for SCC’s Education Program come from?
Sharkey: It really got started in 2005. That’s when a Technical Committee member for ISO/IEC JTC1 (Technology), who worked as a professor at the Université du Québec, inquired about the possibility of having access to standards for use in the courses that he was teaching. He thought standards should be available, free of charge, to universities to enable them to introduce students to the world of standardization. We started negotiating with ISO, IEC, and our standards provider, IHS, on how to make these standards available. They all agreed that such a program was a good investment for the future of standardization. Once we had their approval, we presented the idea to SCC’s governing Council, and they agreed that it was something we should do and gave us the green light to develop the program.
Q: What is the goal of the program?
Sharkey: The goal is to give post-secondary students a better understanding of the standardization process and its role in their field of study. This can lead to a smoother transition into the workplace for graduating students and help enable them, and their future employers, to remain globally competitive.
Q: And have you reached those goals?
Sharkey: Every year we’re getting a little closer, and the pace is quickening. We’re very excited about the progress of the program and the additional opportunities that it is opening up to SCC on university and college campuses across the country. What really makes it worthwhile is the positive feedback that we receive about the program. It is heartening to see the value of standardization given the recognition that it deserves, especially by our universities and colleges who are developing our next generation of standards users and professionals.