The Apprentice Blog

Nina Blog hero

Follow Nina's journey from the bakery to the Laboratory as MSL's first Measurement Technician Apprentice.

10 December 2019

Wow, I've been at MSL six months already, time goes so fast when you're having fun!  Here is a little update on what I have been up to for the past couple of months :)

I completed my Measurement Uncertainty Course from NPL :)

Back in October I attended the three day 17025 Quality management course at IANZ in Auckland, this course was very important for me to attend as I am new to working in a laboratory, it showed why things are done the way they are in laboratories and what affect they have in the long run. I took a lot away from this experience and can now apply it to my everyday work.

Some of the exciting calibration work I have been up to recently has been:

  • Learning all about calibrating micrometers which is essential for me to learn as I will be assisting Lenice my mentor with a Proficiency Test next year which involves micrometers.
  • Another calibration job I assisted on was the calibration of a stage micrometer, which is a lot different from your regular micrometer. A stage micrometer is a glass biology slide with a very small ruler scale printed on it that can only be seen under a microscope, this stage micrometer is then used to calibrate an eyepiece reticle which is used when making measurements with a microscope. When calibrating the stage micrometer we used a profile projector which is like a really huge microscope and a laser to see how far the microscope table was moving in order to see the graduations on the micrometer.

Another exciting piece of equipment I have been playing around with is an Arduino. An Arduino is a small programmable circuit board which you can use to automate simple tasks. Automation is a very relevant skill to have in the metrology and engineering industry as it helps speed up processes and increase productivity which in turn increases profit, so having the skilled personnel to automate such processes is vital to a company's success.

One more fantastic opportunity I have had since my last blog post was getting to talk to a group called Youth Inspire. Youth Inspire is a community run program with the primary focus of getting young people on the right track whether it be finding a job or going into further education, Youth Inspire teaches these young people the necessary skills in order to succeed in their future endeavours, whatever they may be. I got to talk to the group about my apprenticeship scheme and show them some of the awesome things I have been up to, it really got a lot of them thinking of apprenticeship opportunities and a lot of them were interested in what I had been doing and were asking a lot of great questions! I really enjoyed this experience.

14 October 2019

Nina's story recently featured in the Kapiti News.


30 September 2019


Hi, my name is Nina and I am MSL’s first apprentice measurement technician. I am really excited about having this awesome opportunity.  MSL is very different from both school and my previous job as a baker, but I like the change as I get to learn new skills, and gain knowledge and am challenged every day.  One of my favourite things to do at MSL is sit at the lunch table and hear all the discussions going back and forward between the metrologists. They all know so much, and I love learning from them. To keep a record of the things I do during my time here, I’ve decided to keep a blog. Here is my first post.

Day to Day

My work includes lots of practical experience, but I also do courses too. At the moment, I am primarily based in the length team. I recently used a romer arm for the first time – this is a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM). I measured a unique item for a customer. It was so large in size it was unable to be measured by our standard CMM.

I recently completed my first commercial job, on the measuring of lobster tail gauges for the Ministry of Primary Industries. This measurement was completed with the use of wrung gauge blocks in the form of go and no-go gauges.

I have also worked a little in the temperature team working with thermometers using triple points and silicon baths for probe conditioning. With the light team I’ve looked at photometers which measure light intensity, the strength of electromagnetic radiation in the range from ultraviolet to infrared (including the visible spectrum).

I’ve started helping Lenice, who is my mentor, to measure components for the development of the kibble balance using the CMM, which is to help realise the kilogram in New Zealand following the redefinition in May 2019.


I have attended lots of courses too, including the MSL workshops for Measurement Uncertainty and Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing. I have found this to be really useful – it allowed me to apply what I had learned in the workshops to my day to day tasks in the length team, whether that was learning to read technical drawings, or analysing data from measurements I have taken.

And finally, I’ve been working on alot of online metrology courses at Hexagon metrology and UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL). They cover lots of the skills that I’m applying in MSL’s labs and workshops.

  • CMM and Arm Fundamental Courses– These helped give me a basic understanding on the operation of these machines before I began to use them.
  • Vision Fundamentals – This course was about Vision CMMs which include probes, lasers and vision (in the form of a camera) to take measurements. I found this course particularly helpful as it provided some good pointers for when I was measuring some apertures – these are very fragile parts used in light standards. They could not be measured using a regular probe.
  • Geometric Product Specification and Dimensional Measurement - these were through NPL and they provided a good introduction to coordinate metrology, which is essential in length standards, especially with the use of a CMM.
  • Measurement Fundamentals Explained and Introduction to Metrology– These two courses provided a good base for what metrology is all about.
  • NPL’s Measurement Uncertainty Explained and Uncertainty Budgets (this second one is yet to be completed) - These courses are essential in any field of measurement, because with any measurement you take there is always some uncertainty.

So, as you can tell, I’ve been really busy. But I’m enjoying the experience a lot, and I’m being well supported by all the team at MSL. I’d better get back to the lab. Keep an eye out for my next post!