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SME Speaks: SME Membership: Recruitment, Engagement, and Value


Joseph J. LaRussaWebster's Dictionary defines membership as "the state of being a member, as of a society or club." In my opinion, membership is also a statement of commitment, pride, and loyalty. Being a member of an organization represents a measure of status that sets an individual apart from their peers. As the new director of membership and a proud SME member, I'm excited to be a part of the membership team, and motivated to work with all of our members to build a stronger, better SME.

Over the years, the Society has seen its membership numbers decline. Each year, we attract many new members but, unfortunately, they fail to renew their membership when the time comes. To move the Society forward, we must find innovative ways to attract new members and retain our current members. To do that, we have to examine what constitutes SME membership, which I believe involves three key principles: recruitment, engagement, and value.   

Recruitment primarily revolves around the identification of students, professionals, and leaders who exhibit a passion for manufacturing. These are folks who have a need to meet other successful manufacturing practitioners and leaders, a need to grow personally and professionally, and a need to know how to maintain their relevance and skills in industry. All of us know these people, and it's incumbent upon us to provide them with a chance to hear the value of SME membership. Realistically, current, engaged SME members are the best sales people for the Society, because they know the value of their membership, and can explain those benefits to a willing listener.

Engagement represents the myriad ways in which connections are made by SME members. Whether by being a volunteer leader, attending SME events, interacting via social media, or through traditional networking, SME members have multiple ways to access the value of their membership. As a 15-year member myself, I can attest to the benefits of engagement. After being a very passive member for a number of years, I found an opportunity to engage as an SME membership consultant (MCon). Shortly after engaging, a position opened up in my company for a management role, which I applied for. Although I was a competent, qualified employee, the feedback I received was that I had no experience with budgets and timing. I immediately pointed to my experience as a membership consultant, which required managing both timing and budgets for multiple chapters. It wasn't long after that I was chosen for my first management assignment, a tacit recognition that my engagement in SME helped advance my career.

The value of an SME membership is unique in that it is both intrinsic and hard. The intrinsic value lies in your access to manufacturing knowledge. The hard value can be found in the professional development and career advancement opportunities available to you. It lies in the scholarship opportunities available to your college-age family members through the SME Education Foundation. It exists in the real connections you make as a professional, an entrepreneur, a shop owner, and a leader. It lies in the knowledge you bring to the table as a member of the manufacturing community. Ultimately, however, the real value of SME membership is you and all that you have to offer to the Society and your peers.

In the coming months, it is my goal to familiarize myself with all aspects of SME's membership, and to work hard with our membership team to ensure that you get the most value for your yearly dues. I encourage anyone who is a "passive" member to find ways in which to engage within the Society. And for those who have ever questioned the value of your membership, please visit Webinar Central,; specifically the "member benefits" archive section, which offers an in-depth look at all of the SME member benefits available.


Let's All Celebrate Manufacturing and Manufacturing Education

Robert L. Mott
Professor Emeritus of Engineering Technology
University of Dayton

Mark Tomlinson, SME's executive director & general manager, announced in the February 2010 SME Speaks that the Society had begun to implement the SME Center for Education with the mission to "coordinate the many existing groups that impact higher education in manufacturing." I am pleased to lead the implementation team for the new center with able assistance from Winston Erevelles, PhD, a longtime leader and visionary for manufacturing education, and Mark Stratton, the SME staff liaison. We are building on the findings and recommendations of the Task Force on the Role of SME in Higher Education, led by LaRoux Gillespie, Dr Eng., FSME, CMfgE, PE. As outlined in the report submitted to the SME Board of Directors in 2009, the Task Force recommendations focus on:

  • Greater visibility of manufacturing education on SME's Web site;
  • Growing the SME student member program;
  • Stronger recognition of collegiate faculty;
  • Communicating directly with department heads of manufacturing programs;
  • Enhancing the growth of accredited manufacturing programs;
  • Assisting in the collaboration among the Manufacturing Education & Research Community, the Certification Oversight and Appeals Committee, the Accreditation Committee, the Student Relations Committee, and others who impact manufacturing education;
  • Working with the SME Education Foundation on improving the image of manufacturing as a career, and attracting more highly qualified young people into the field; and
  • Engaging with other professional societies that impact manufacturing education.

Pledges of strong support and cooperation from SME President Barbara Fossum have been received, with the expectation that the center's work will be an important part of the Society's mission and vision, contributing positively to the goals of being the premier resource for manufacturing knowledge, a leading resource for manufacturing education, enhancing membership numbers and value, and enhancing the brand image of SME.

Connecting manufacturing and design research to manufacturing and engineering design education was the focus of a panel discussion at NAMRC 38 for an international audience in May hosted by Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The importance of the connection was emphasized, as were the opportunities to enhance education in manufacturing globally.

The SME Center for Education, the SME Manufacturing Education & Research Community, and the SME Education Foundation collaborated with outside organizations to celebrate manufacturing education at the 2010 Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) held in mid-June in Louisville, KY. An impressive pavilion highlighted the importance of manufacturing in North America, put the spotlight on manufacturing engineering and engineering technology programs, and demonstrated the many ways in which these programs contribute to the economic health of the region, work toward energy efficiency and sustainability in manufacturing, and espouse global integration of manufacturing enterprises.

Contact me with your ideas for the center at:


Chapter Meeting Explores Advanced Propulsion Technology

During a recent two-hour chapter meeting, Oakland-Macomb No. 69 had more than 45 participants, 25 of whom were Oakland Community College (OCC) nanotechnology and advanced propulsion students. The guest speaker, Randall Champagne, project manager for Advanced Propulsion Training at General Motors, has more than 23 years of automotive engineering experience, including 10 years in the area of advanced propulsion and development at General Motors specializing in hybrids, fuel-cell vehicles, and propulsion batteries. Champagne has developed numerous courses showcasing GM battery and advanced propulsion technology, and has worked closely with industry leaders to develop new training courses to ensure the latest technology is incorporated. His chapter presentation covered the propulsion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, including the basic electrochemistry of batteries, battery components, advantages and disadvantages of lead-acid/nickel metal hydride/lithium-ion batteries, differentiation between energy and power batteries, and technology trends for hybrid electric vehicles. The various batteries are currently designed for fuel-efficient, hybrid, electric, and fuel-cell vehicles. Champagne explained how the batteries are integrated in the standard and two-mode hybrid vehicles, such as Malibu and SUVs (Tahoe and Yukon), and Volt electric car. Tsung-Yu Pan, who teaches an "Introduction to Nanoscience" course at OCC, encouraged students in his class to attend the meeting. The college received a $1.9 million grant in 2008 to develop a center for the study of nanotechnology, so the information offered in this meeting is both timely and important for students who are studying emerging technologies. The presentation given by Champagne related to the material of the two OCC classes, and the students were also included in the meeting so that they could hear about the batteries from the user side. After the meeting, the students were given information on SME and becoming a student chapter member.


WESTEC Goes Biennial

SME announced that its WESTEC Advanced Productivity Exposition will become a biennial event, effective immediately. The longtime exposition, which has served as the definitive event for West Coast manufacturers, will alternate years with SME's new AeroDef Manufacturing event. WESTEC 2012 is scheduled for March 27–29, 2012, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. WESTEC has been instrumental in showing how technologies originally created for aerospace and defense have application in industries as diverse as medical, energy, electronics, consumer goods, aircraft, general manufacturing, and the automotive aftermarket. The event will continue to be the foremost technology showcase for a wide cross-section of industries. A redesigned, content-rich WESTEC 2012 will have an emphasis on best business practices, adopting the latest technologies for emerging industries. WESTEC's biennial schedule has been desired by many exhibitors, and better fits the business needs of the West Coast manufacturing community.



AeroDef Manufacturing is scheduled to launch April 5–7, 2011, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. AeroDef will address the way commercial and military aircraft are designed, developed, and produced, and emphasize technologies that trim delivery times and control costs. Key technologies and materials to be showcased at the event include automation, ceramics, finishing and coatings, micro and nanotechnology, sensors/RFID, assembly and joining, machining, and metal fabrication. For more information, visit


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

Published Date : 6/1/2010

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