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# To metric or not to metric? Is that (still) the question?

Recently, in response to an article headline that included our good ol’ Fahrenheit temperature unit, a reader took us to task for not using the international Celsius standard.

That sparked a conversation about the U.S.’s continued use of the imperial system of measurement, both in the wider culture but especially in the design engineering world.

So what do you, our Engineering Exchange members, think? Is it worth it to revisit the subject of using only metric units, or do we continue to accommodate both metric and imperial units?

And what about the wider culture? Do we start with teaching our children only the metric system from a very early age and let them lead the way? Do we begin to calculate kilometers per liter instead of mpg?

Tell us what you think.

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Comment by Andrew Dreasler on July 1, 2011 at 1:24pm
Thank you, John, I believe that was where the general trend of the responders here were leaning.  The question becomes one of time and money; how fast do we go metric, and how much money do we spend to go metric at that speed?
Comment by John Iaconis on July 1, 2011 at 1:16pm
Go metric
Comment by Michael Andrews on June 19, 2011 at 6:26pm
I must agree that to convert to metric we'll need to run both unit systems for a _LONG_ while. I can remember my thermodynamics textbook in college (early 80s). Every other problem was in british or metric units. This got me used to working with units and dealing with converting constants.

I work in the tire industry and while we are mostly metric, you see mixed units all the time. Want proof, look at the side of your car tires. Tire sizes are mixed units: P215/60R16. 215=tire width in mm. 60=tire aspect ratio, R=radial, 16 = rim dia. in inches.
Comment by Ross Huber on June 17, 2011 at 9:53am
Comment by Ross Huber on June 17, 2011 at 9:31am
Its funny, every time I start a project, knowing that the mounts of most of the motors are in some metric configuration, as well as most of the electronics, but that the various manufacturing houses I use are all setup in  "American", I have to decide which units to use.  I either end up with a few strange "American" numbers around the motors and electronics, or end up with a bunch of strange metric units on the layout.  If I am building it myself, I dont mind, but boy I get a ration of \$#!+ from the machine shop if the print is in metric!
Comment by Roger Davies on June 17, 2011 at 7:14am

Russ:

Spoken like a true liberal. Put words into the mouth of your opponent, then, walk away, never addressing the actual comment. You said "hate", not me.

Thomas: You are exactly right! If we don't get our "house" in order, the metric question will be mute.

Comment by Thomas M. Cunningham on June 16, 2011 at 5:37pm
Fact is: We have bigger fish to fry in the US.  Weights about 14 trillion KG.
Comment by Ross Huber on June 16, 2011 at 2:19pm

Before you accuse me of hating my country read this:

Comment by Ross Huber on June 13, 2011 at 10:34am

As for the white house, whatever, keep the tired political rambling out of the forum please.  It has nothing to do with the subject.

Comment by Roger Davies on June 16, 2011 at 1:54pm

Ross:

I will speak very slowly, so that even you can understand. There are those in this thread that do not seem to care what Country they live in. (the non-American citizens aside) They seem to think that the United States of America is not the greatest Country in the World. I will not list all the other countries that have been liberated from tyrants by the U.S.A. And that does not count the endless inventions we have produced.

As for the White House comment, I was refering to those who seem to want to appologize for the U.S.A. The current occupant of the White House has appologized for us ad nauseum. And, for what? What have we done that is so bad? I'm sure that if you put the good we have done, as a Country, on one side of the ledger, and the bad things on the other side, we will come out looking pretty good. Of course, one needs to know their history to understand this.

As for "You are patriotically defending a British system...", we have been using it for well over 200 years. I think we own it. By the way, if I remember correctly, we missed being metric by one vote. Yes, Billy Bob, your vote does count!

Comment by Miles Budimir on June 16, 2011 at 8:17am

Thanks for the very interesting link, Leszek. As this makes clear, that Congressional act made metric units lawful, but not mandatory.

Karl, it sure looks like it's mainly our unwillingness to change.

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