Compliance and regulation binders

Living in the Norms – Life as a Norm Department Review Engineer

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Many years ago I took a business trip to Cadiz, Spain to visit one of our manufacturing sites for an automotive component. While we were in the city we stayed at a beautifully renovated monastery that had been relatively updated to modern standards but still retained the charms of the building. The bathroom was large and luxuries and had been outfitted with an international plug allowing visitors to easily plug in any bathroom appliances they may have brought with them. On this particular trip I had brought along a curling iron and relished the idea of having one of my favorite hair tools finally available to me. When I was preparing to go in to the office that morning I went about my morning routine, washing and drying my hair so I could style it. I plugged in the curling iron and left the room while it heated up; upon returning just a minute later, I found the curling iron had turned glowing red! Quickly, I unplugged the unit and picked up the curling iron watching the hot metal curl over and fall apart. I realized at that point that even though my plug fit in the outlet the voltage (220V) was well above the rating for the curling iron.

Norms in the automotive engineering world

My experience traveling (well abandoning) my curling iron in a foreign country drove home the point to me of just how important norms truly are in the automotive world. An entire field of automotive engineering is dedicated to the monitoring and maintenance of norms within an organization to ensure that all products will conform and work within the automotive world.

Norms within the automotive engineering world are governed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards (note – the term ISO is not actually an acronym because the organization name changes depending on the language, ISO comes from the Greek word isos which means equal, this means that no matter which country you are in they are all equal) which is a non-government, independent organization that monitors and develops all standards used within multiple industries throughout the world. Standards regulate everything from food products and healthcare to electronics and most important, the automotive industry. Currently, the ISO organization has developed and published more than 19,500 standards by utilizing representative members from within their industries to develop and refine the standards that everyone was work within.

So, just what does a Norms Review Engineer do in their day to day job?

The Norms Review Engineer will receive the draft drawings and specifications from the engineer and will go over them with a fine tooth comb to ensure that all measurements, performance specifications, electrical specifications and material properties are properly designed to meet ISO requirements. If there is a deficiency in the design the Norms Review Engineer will work with the engineer to bring the part into specification so that it will conform to both the customer requirements and ISO standards.

Joining the Norms Engineering field of work

There is no specific degree path for becoming a Norms Review Engineer but instead when you are interested in this field of work you will want to obtain a degree that focuses on the development field where you will be working. For example, if you are working within the mechanical design arena for an automobile then consider a Mechanical Engineering degree to prepare you for this work. As you work within the field you will develop experience with the published ISO requirements and will have the background knowledge in the field you choose to understand and interpret the norms so that any out of spec parts can be designed or modified to be within ISO requirements. The degree requirements for becoming an engineer no matter what field you choose to specialize in are very similar which include a strong background in math, science, physics and chemistry coupled with a well-rounded high school education career.

The Norms Review Engineer job is not one that everyone is aware of within the Automotive Engineering field but it is critical to the success of a product once it enters the field. Joining this field will put you in the position to control what products are launched and which ones need more work so if you enjoy the challenge of making a product that meets the requirements of the industry, then consider working as a Norms Review Engineer.

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