Surface Texture: meet the Scouts!

If you’re reading this blog, you know that we love sharing what we know about surfaces. Sometimes that information impacts people’s lives in the most unexpected of places!

Brian Vogel is a Scout troop leader, in addition to his 30-year career in drafting and metrology. Though he’s amassed a wealth of GD&T and surface texture experience over that time, Vogel still regularly attends classes and combs for information on-line. “I know enough to know that I have a lot more to learn,” he says.

brian vogel

Brian Vogel


A few years ago, before a troop meeting, four of his Scouts noticed some of Vogel’s  “day job” work on his laptop screen. The four, who were interested in engineering and had even taken a high school engineering class, asked Vogel if the data they saw “relates to how smooth a surface could be made.” Vogel knew that this simple question actually required a complex answer, so he decided to find an appropriate teacher for them.

A video is worth a thousand words
(and a merit badge!)

Vogel recalled a surface texture class, led by Digital Metrology’s Mark Malburg, that he’d taken at his workplace some years before. “Mark can make surface finish fun, and that’s not an easy task,” he said. Vogel pulled up one of Digital Metrology’s Notepad Series videos online, and it sparked the Scouts’ attention. “Mark explained [texture] to where they could picture it,” he said. The Scouts watched through the video and, on their own, came to a key discovery: no surface is perfect, and there’s always texture, even if the surface seems glossy. That fundamental lesson got their wheels turning!

Scouts engaging with Digital Metrology Notepad Series videos

On their own, the Scouts researched surface texture further, finding more resources online, and even sharing the Notepad videos at school. “All kids have their talents,” said Vogel. “These kids were very engaged and loved to learn.”

The four Scouts parlayed their interest into earning their Engineering merit badges. Ultimately, each of the four students made Eagle Scout, the highest scouting honor. And, all four also went on to universities where they are studying various engineering disciplines.

scouts bsa engineering merit badge

Scouts BSA Engineering merit badge

Lifelong learning 

Vogel says that Scouting is a great way to introduce young people to a broad range of careers and interests. He continues to introduce engineering concepts to new Scouts as well. His current troop took engineering merit badge classes last summer in perhaps the coolest of all venues: the Harley-Davidson Museum. “Even the adults enjoyed the experience,” said Vogel, and the Scouts completed their museum assignments enthusiastically.

Vogel loves sharing what he’s learned with the next generations. He says Scouts will often bring a question to a Troop meeting “that has nothing to do with what we had planned for that day.” But those learning opportunities are important, so he makes sure to take the time to point those Scouts toward the resources they may need to find the answers.

Digital Metrology is proud to have been part of that Scouting, and engineering experience. Thanks to Brian Vogel for helping to form the next generation of engineers and designers! We’re glad that we could help.