Sparks will fly! NZ to host major electromagnetic metrology conference in 2022

Case study

For more than 60 years, the Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements (CPEM) has been the premier forum for all scientists working in this exciting field. And for the first time in its long history, CPEM is coming to Aotearoa New Zealand.


Hosted by the Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL), in collaboration with the National Measurement Institute of Australia (NMIA), this conference will see more than 350 world-leading experts descend on Wellington. Attendees will include scientists and engineers from national metrology institutes, universities, industrial and governmental standards labs, and manufacturers of precision measurement instruments.

Over the course of the five day programme (12-16 December 2022), delegates will take part in plenary talks, technical presentations, poster sessions and workshops at the Michael Fowler Centre. They will also visit and tour the Measurement Standards Laboratory campus in Lower Hutt – the New Zealand home for the International System of Units (the SI). To make the most of this unique gathering, a series of satellite meetings – for working groups and committees – will be arranged for the days surrounding the main conference.

The program for CPEM 2022 will be expansive and inclusive, reflecting both the landmark change to the SI that came about in 2019, and the fascinating future of metrology that lies ahead. Topics are expected to include fundamental constants, electrical standards, photonics and optical metrology, realisation of the kilogram, radio frequency and microwaves, the forthcoming redefinition of the second, and quantum metrology.

Described as “the most important scientific and technological conference in the domain of electromagnetic measurements”[1], CPEM was first established in 1958 by the National Bureau of Standards; forerunner to today’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Initially a solely US-based conference, CPEM quickly became an international affair, and as demand grew, other countries began to host it. Now, the conference location alternates between one of three North American locations (NIST Boulder, NIST Gaithersburg, and NRC Ottawa) and an overseas metrology institute.

NZ’s successful bid was led by MSL Principal Research Scientist, Dr Murray Early. With his three decades of expertise in electrical metrology, he has been a regular contributor to CPEM sessions, and in 2014, he was elected to the Executive Committee. Dr Early is the Conference Program Co-Chair for 2022, alongside Dr Ilya Budovsky, Head of NMIA’s Electrical and Time Standards.

When asked to reflect on what this event will mean to NZ, Early said, “For scientists working in this sector, there’s no more prestigious conference than CPEM. So as hosts, it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s metrology expertise on a global stage, and for our young scientists to establish important connections with overseas experts. We’re particularly excited to welcome our collaborators and colleagues who have generously helped us over the years.”

The technical committee co-chairs are Dr Dimitrios Georgakopoulos (NMIA) and Mr Tom Stewart (MSL). Dr Budovsky describes CPEM as a place “where ideas for new measurement standards are born, shared and their realisation presented to the electrical metrology community.” And he says after working – and networking – remotely for so long, he’s looking forward to “…seeing our overseas friends in person, and to discussing all things electrical, while enjoying NZ’s legendary hospitality.”


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