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American Reticence against the DMS

(Decimal Metric System)

Ruben A. Gomez, P.E.

Course Outline

Included in this course is a brief description of how the different systems of weight and measures evolved and developed through history, starting with the Persians, Arabs, Saxons, Romans and finally with the French and the culmination of their Decimal Metric System.

The benefits of the DMS are highlighted, as well as the shortcomings of the system as described by the foot-pound users in their effort to resist conversion to a seemingly more convenient system of weights and measurements.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the completion of this course, the user will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for engineers, architects, land surveyors and general contractors.

Benefit for Attendee

Attendees to this course will become familiar with the particular details inherent to the Decimal Metric System.

Course Introduction

Both, the ancient Persians and Arab traders used for measurements whatever they could grab, their fingers, hands, palms, arms and feet. That is why, as they passed their accumulated methods of measurement to the Romans and Saxons, we still can see the vestiges of those forms of units and components.

Those historical facts are included in this course, as we also show the reasons why there is a cultural resistance from the English foot-pound users to convert to the decimal metric system.

Course Content

The course content is contained in the following PDF file:

American Reticence against the DMS

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Course Summary

Despite the 1988 U.S. Act of Trade and Competitiveness by which it was hoped that the industry would voluntarily convert to the metric system, now almost three decades later, the American public remains reticent to the idea of initiating any departure from the English foot-pound system of weights and measures.

While it is true that some efforts of conversion have been made in the scientific field where one may encounter often small measurements expressed in millimeters. Architects and engineers still prepare their details and working drawings in feet and inches.

In this course we present both systems, the decimal metric and the foot-pounds, in enough detail for the differences to become quite obvious to the reader. We also present those historical facts that have been decisive in the development of the measurement systems as they are in use today. Further, we describe the common perceptions amongst the users as they try to justify their reluctance against what they may deem as an unnecessary change.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.