The Apprentice Blog

Nina 30 September 2020

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

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!

14 October 2019

Nina's story recently featured in the Kapiti News.