Oceanography with international caliber

The team that worked on accrediting the University's Coastal and Marine Resources (CMR) Core Lab with the International Organization for Standardization is shown here on campus. Members include (from left to right): Andrew Mahon, supervisor of Marine Electronics – laboratory lead, CMR; Samer Mahmoud, electronics engineer – laboratory technician, CMR; Ioannis Georgakakis, senior technical specialist - quality manager, CMR; Edward Lloyd Smith, CMR director. Photo by Khulud Muath.

-By Andrea Hulsbosch and KAUST Core Labs

The KAUST Core Labs aim to operate with world-class standards to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. The first Core Lab to successfully complete the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) evaluation process is the Coastal and Marine Resources (CMR) Core Lab. On December 31, 2018, CMR complied with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was granted accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025. The confirmation of the lab's competence to perform calibrations with global quality standards makes KAUST the first university in the Kingdom and the GCC region to receive such recognition.

CMR will be performing accredited calibrations of temperature and conductivity (salinity) for oceanographic instruments.

"The ISO's quality management system (QMS) adds a broad level of control and oversight, leading to more precise and accurate data, which results in a more reliable and better service for our users," explained Ioannis Georgakakis, the project's quality manager at KAUST. 

While the certificate recognizes the effectiveness of the lab, it also makes it easier to process the work, prevents improvised actions and facilitates evidence-based decision making. Overall, the implementation will have a positive impact on the ability of the lab to support the research community. However, achieving such accreditation in a university environment is challenging.

A researcher works on campus in the Calibration facility at the KAUST Coastal and Marine Resources (CMR) Core Lab. Photo by Basil Chew.

"The endeavors began over two years ago when we encountered long delays while sending sensitive instrumentation overseas to be calibrated," said Lloyd Smith, director of CMR. "With calibration support for oceanographic instruments lacking in the region, we felt that the effort involved in implementing this quality management would pay off, and it has."

CMR excelled in its setup. "It's impressive to achieve this accreditation with zero deficiencies on the initial assessment. The team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the project," Smith added.

"The accreditation is a clear demonstration of Core Labs' commitment to excellence and its focus on providing high-quality services to KAUST and the Kingdom," stated Dr. Justin L. Mynar, executive director of the KAUST Core Labs. "This recognition by ISO will significantly improve Core Labs' contribution to the University's and its collaborators' research in addressing some of the world's most pressing coastal and marine challenges."

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