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SME Speaks: Looking into the Future: A Wish List

Barbara M. Fossum

Thank you for the opportunity to be your SME President in 2010.

Over the past few years as an officer of SME, I have been growing a wish list. I would like to share this list with you now, to give you an idea of what I think is important. Please open your imaginations for a few minutes, to project yourselves into the future with this wish list.

  • Our country has a manufacturing strategy, and SME played an important role in its development.
  • The average person understands the positive relationship between manufacturing, job creation, increased innovation, a higher standard of living, and other factors of a healthy economy; SME played a key role in informing the public.
  • Our brand image is so clear and so well positioned that the number of members, the number of customers, member engagement, and employee loyalty are all increasing substantially.
  • SME is known in all manufacturing industries and among academics as the first and best source of career-enhancing manufacturing products and services.
  • We are known worldwide and we are a benchmark for our delivery systems for career-enhancing products and services.
  • Individual engineers and their organizations recognize the substantial value of SME membership.
  • Our member-leader development programs are so highly regarded that young engineers queue up for volunteer (member contributor) positions in SME.
  • Our members participate very actively both in physical and virtual communities, such as our chapters, technical communities, and our virtual "regions."
  • The industrial and global diversity of our membership results in even more high-value, career-enhancing products and services.
  • We remain strong in our base industries, but we also are strong in a number of other industries to which young people are increasingly attracted.
  • Our staff and member volunteers work so closely together that the line between employee and member volunteer is blurred.
  • Our chapters are well-integrated with the other parts of our volunteer structure.
  • The image of manufacturing is so positive throughout the country that parents encourage their children to enter careers in manufacturing; SME played a key role in clarifying the image.
  • Our senior and student chapters are a significant resource, working closely with the SME Education Foundation, helping to develop young people for careers in manufacturing.
  • The number of young people entering engineering grows substantially, and most of them stay in the US to work.
  • Every engineering program in the country includes mandatory courses in manufacturing, and SME provided the guidelines and much of the content for these courses.

Thank you for allowing me to share my wish list. I look forward to working with many of you who will help me and the other officers and directors of SME to sharpen this vision, and to determine ways to make many of these wishes come true.

I would like to thank my many SME mentors who helped to shape my work—wise SME volunteers who became my trusted teachers and advisors, and who continue to guide me through new experiences. I encourage each of you to seek out mentors within SME, and to become mentors to new members and new member leaders.

Please join me in making 2010 an especially productive year for SME.


About the Author

Barbara M. Fossum, PhD, FSME, is an independent consultant and coach in the areas of strategic planning, process engineering, technology assessment, new venture validation, and business planning for entrepreneurial startups. Fossum also is a senior research fellow of the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas at Austin, where she works in worldwide economic development projects involving technology commercialization. Previously, she was president of the Gordon Group, a Chicagobased organizational and leadership development company; and president of Reveille Technology Inc., a manufacturing execution system software company. A member since 1989, Fossum is the 2010 SME President, and the first female President in the Society's 78-year history. She is a member of Florida Suncoast No. 159, and was elected to the 1996 SME College of Fellows. She also was a member of SME's Ad Hoc Lifelong Learning Committee. Fossum was educated at the University of Texas at Austin, Stevens Institute of Technology, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. She holds a PhD in operations management, an MBA, and an MS in mathematics/computer science.


Student Designers Encouraged to Design Innovative
Household Item

The Direct Digital Manufacturing Tech Group, which is part of SME's Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing Community, is encouraging student designers to submit their designs for its annual Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing 2010 Competition. For 2010, student designers are encouraged to use their imagination to design a product intended for household use that has unique direct digital manufacturing (DDM) features.

The product must be used in the home, and have minimum impact on the environment. It must be fabricated mainly using DDM processes. Following are the design criteria for the competition:

  • The item will be for residential use (i.e., home or apartment).
  • The design should represent a fully working prototype. Any internal electronics or mechanics must be specified within the design.
  • The geometry of the design must be defined within a 3-D CAD system capable of producing robust STL files.

Prizes will be awarded for the top three designs. Submissions are due on or before April 6, 2010. To learn more, visit



PPDM Community's New Cutting-Edge Program

SME's Product & Process Design and Management Community will host a new event in 2010—the Innovative Manufacturing Summit: Discovering and Leveraging Your Manufacturing Advantages. The summit will be held September 29–30, 2010, at the Drury Lane Convention Center in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, and will bring manufacturing leaders together to share realworld examples of how to bring innovation to every aspect of an individual's organization.

Using a series of case studies, participants in this event will learn ideas and solutions to improve processes and products. Case studies are currently being sought that address discovering and leveraging manufacturing advantages in three key areas:

  • Process Innovation
  • Product Innovation
  • Business Innovation

Abstracts are due on March 1, 2010. To submit your case-study abstract or for additional event information, visit SME members currently serving as conference advisors are: Michael Burstein, TIPE Inc.; David Csokasy, The DJC Group Inc.; Bill Estrem, Metaplexity Associates LLC; Joe LaRussa, Visteon Corp.; Doug King, King Engineering; Dave Roney, Sara Lee; Bob Seider, Mueller Co.; and Phillip Swearingen, Tri-State Industries.


2011 NAMRC/MSEC Joint Conference

The North American Manufacturing Research Institution (NAMR/SME) has chosen Oregon State University to host the 2011 North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), to be collocated with ASME's Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC), June 13–17, 2011. In 2009, a task force composed of both SME and ASME members released the results of a study on colocating the lead manufacturing conferences of both organizations. The study consisted of detailing previous efforts to combine these conferences, a background investigation on other major manufacturing conferences and collocation of other aligned conferences, evaluating potential benefits and drawbacks of the collocation, and analyzing attendance information of both conferences.

As a result of the study, the task force recommended collocation of NAMRC and MSEC, and the board of directors of NAMRI/SME and the executive committee of the ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division approved the recommendation. SME members who served on the task force included: Larry Yao, PhD, FSME, 2009–10 NAMRI/SME president; Steve Hayashi, 2010–11 NAMRI/SME president-elect; Jian Cao, PhD, NAMRI/SME secretary; Shivakumar Raman, PhD, FSME, NAMRI/SME scientific committee chair; and Kevin Chou, 2011 MSEC program chair. In 2010, NAMRC 38 will be held on May 26–28 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Conference information can be found at


Volunteers Needed

SME is a member-based organization that requires volunteer leadership on many levels. In addition to serving your chapter or technical community, there are spots available on several international committees. Below is a list of some of the positions for which SME is currently recruiting volunteers:

  • 2011–12 International Directors/Member Council—Applications are due Feb. 15, 2010.


  • Member Council Committees (Chapter Enhancement Committee, Student Enhancement Committee, and Technical Community Leaders Steering Committee)—If you have an interest in working on or with any of these committees, contact .


  • Membership Consultant—There is no deadline; applications are always accepted with assignments based on availability. Visit to learn more/apply.


SME Members: Did You Know—

We can help you become a better leader?

Since 2006, SME has been offering its volunteer leaders the opportunity to learn about the latest leadership and management strategies for their leadership, personal, and professional roles. The series presents a different educational focus each year with several geographically located events. During the last three years, more than 331 members have participated in the series, and many have offered rave reviews on their experience:

"SME exposes me to people and opportunities I would not otherwise have encountered. The resources—Web content, people, and technical info—are world-class. I have been given the opportunity to safely practice my leadership skills and develop new skillsets." — Brian Pearce, senior manufacturing engineer, St. Jude Medical

"This has been the best Detroit-sponsored event I've participated in." — Tim Lange, design engineer, Hoffman Enclosures

SME has several leadership series planned for 2010, including:

  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL—Feb. 19
  • Indianapolis—April 23
  • Salt Lake City—Sept. 17
  • Pittsburgh—Oct. 22

In addition, there will be a free members-only session, inspired by the Leadership Series, at SME's Annual Conference (June 6–8 in Nashville). The workshop will take place on Sunday, June 6 from 1 to 5 pm, and will be focused on selling yourself and your ideas (your elevator speech), seven deadly sins of collaboration, and bridging generational gaps: differences between boomers and Gen X/Y. For more information on the Leadership Series, go to

This article was first published in the January 2010 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 


Published Date : 1/1/2010

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