Good Data Acquisition: How do you know you are getting good data? – Introduction to Taking High-Quality Data

by | Jan 5, 2023 | Good Data Acquisition: How do you know you are getting good data?, Tech News

This is the first post in a multi-part series on how to make successful measurements, i.e., how to get “good data”.

When I was a young engineer working at the Aero / Noise / Propulsion Laboratory at Boeing I had a mentor that was responsible for overseeing tests in the Boeing Low Speed Aeroacoustics Facility, a scale-model test facility “for measuring noise and performance of aircraft model propulsion simulators, power nacelles, airframes, and other components.” He was ultimately responsible for the overall test results. There were many data acquisition systems in this facility for measuring aerodynamic performance, noise, and facility operation. I was responsible for design, build, deployment, and operation of some of those data acquisition systems.

Jim Underbrink

I remember one day my mentor asking me, “How do you know you are getting good data?” There was no possible way, with all of the other responsibilities that he had, that he could know that for himself for all of the data systems that were part of that facility’s operation, but that was his way of making sure that those who were responsible for producing data sets, were doing their job. That question really stuck with me.

How do you know you are getting good data?

I wanted to be able to give a good answer, but more than that, I wanted to know that I was getting good data. As I became a more senior engineer, I started to ask that question of my mentees. It became an integral part of ensuring that they knew how to take good data before they were given autonomy to operate a data system. This question was a good way for me to find out what I didn’t know that they didn’t know. It also forced them to get to know what they needed to know, and to develop confidence that they knew what they needed to know.

Good Data Is About Time, Money, Performance, Results, and Reputation

Tests in the aerospace and defense sector can require extensive amounts of time and resources. In many instances they can cost tens of thousands of dollars per day to run. The ultimate goal of these tests is to collect data for purposes of verification and validation, that is, to demonstrate that a product meets its requirements and specifications. If you don’t have good data, you can’t accomplish the goals of the test and it may need to be rerun. Good data is about time, money, performance, results, and reputation.


At IC2 we care about taking good data. Our mission is to provide precision instrumentation solutions to the global test and measurement community. We are producing high-fidelity instrumentation to enable measurements that have not previously been possible, but ultimately, it is up to the users of our products to collect good data.

Our current products include wall shear stress sensors and dynamic (fluctuating) pressure sensors. Our DirectShear™ sensor products may be used to make both mean (static) and fluctuating (dynamic) wall shear stress measurements. Hence, this blog series will focus, in general, on making quality mean and fluctuating measurements, and specifically, on making those measurements using wall shear stress sensors and dynamic pressure sensors that make a direct (not inferred) measurement of the desired physical quantity.

DirectShear Sensors

In the meantime, as we look forward to the next post in this series, “Data Acquisition: How do you know you are getting good data? – Good Fluctuating Data Basics”, think about this question: How do you know you are getting good data?

  1. Introduction to Taking High-Quality Data
  2. High-Quality Fluctuating Data Basics
  3. High-Quality Static Data Basics
  4. Data Traceability
  5. Case Study: The IC2 Complete Shear Stress Measurement System

About IC2

IC2 provides innovative precision instrumentation solutions to the global test and measurement community, delivering scientific-grade measurement tools that offer unprecedented performance, including:

  • Higher bandwidth and dynamic range
  • Greater accuracy and precision
  • Higher spatial resolution
  • Ability to operate in extreme environments

Contact us to get more information about our services and products, place an order, or to discuss how we can customize any of our products to meet your particular needs.