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SME Speaks: Paving the Way Through Recognition

SME established its International Awards and Recognition Program in 1954. The first award recipients were honored at the Society's 1955 Annual Meeting. Today, SME continues the long-standing tradition of recognizing its members for their accomplishments by offering the following awards:           
  • International Honor Awards
    • Eli Whitney Productivity Award
    • Joseph A. Siegel Service Award
    • Donald C. Burnham Manufacturing Management Award
    • SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal
    • SME Albert M. Sargent Progress Award
    • SME Education Award
    • SME Gold Medal
  • College of Fellows
  • Honorary Membership
  • Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award
  • Award of Merit
  • NAMRI/SME S.M. Wu Research Implementation Award
  • Total Excellence in Electronics Manufacturing Award
  • Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing Awards
    • Industry Achievement Award
    • Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award
  • Presidents Award

Since SME established its International Awards and Recognition program 55 years ago, more than 1400 individuals have been honored for their accomplishments within the manufacturing community, and for their dedication to the Society. Each nomination is carefully considered by the respective award committees, which meet several times a year to review each nominee's application and accompanying documentation. The award winners join a select group of highly qualified manufacturing practitioners and academicians who are excelling in their chosen field.

As we begin 2009, let's not forget that it is important to recognize your peers for their extraordinary contributions and hard work. Many award winners are deeply honored and grateful to be acknowledged by their colleagues and the Society. Below are comments from various recipients on winning their awards.

Michael F. Molnar, FSME, CMfgE, PE—"This meant a great deal to me. For a manufacturing guy, being nominated and selected by my peers is the highest recognition of professional contribution imaginable. Pretty much every contribution I've made was enabled by knowledge and skills I learned working with other professionals—the hundreds of terrific people I met through professional societies." Molnar has been a SME member since 1982, and joined the 2008 Class of the SME College of Fellows.

Ronald A. Bohlander, PhD, FSME—"I have been honored by SME in many ways over my career, but particularly when I was elected an SME Fellow for my professional work in manufacturing, and selected to be a recipient of the Joseph A. Siegel Service Award for work in our community of volunteers. Both awards are humbly and deeply appreciated as expressions of support from valued colleagues in the field of manufacturing. Through such recognitions we provide encouragement, not only to the individuals honored, but everyone in this field, because we have occasions to tell the story of the profession to the community as a whole. I know I have learned much from others who have been honored, and it is a privilege to be in their company." Bohlander has been a SME member since 1988 and is the recipient of the 2008 Joseph A. Siegel Service Award. In addition, he joined the 2001 Class of SME Fellows.

Thomas R. Kurfess, PhD, FSME, PE—"Being elected to SME's College of Fellows was a highlight of my career. The SME Fellows have made major contributions to manufacturing and the international community at large, and I have the utmost respect for them. Also, they are not a group who will sit on their laurels; rather, they continuously strive to push the leading edge of technology forward, resulting in a better future for our planet. I am very proud and honored to be a member of that team!" Kurfess has been a SME member since 1983, and joined the 2006 Class of SME Fellows.

Brock T. Strunk—"It was really an honor to receive the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, and I appreciated the recognition for my hard work over the past 10 years. I think this award is a great way to highlight the accomplishments of so many talented engineers early in their careers. Often, engineers do not get recognized like this until they have put in 20, 30, or more years of service, but this award recognizes the outstanding ideas and accomplishments of relatively young engineers that benefit industry every day." Strunk has been a SME member since 1999, and was the recipient of the 2008 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.

William (Willy) J. Geary—"It was tremendously humbling to be honored by my peers and by SME so early in my career. It was an honor to be recognized both nationally and internationally for your accomplishments, and the award gave me a sense that I should give back to industry and pave the way for other engineers. While being elected to the College of Fellows is not as humbling as previously serving as SME President, I would rank it up there as one of my proudest moments. We typically select Fellows in the academic world who are known throughout industry for advancing manufacturing, but I was very pleased to represent industry, and it feels like a culmination of my accomplishments." Geary has been a SME member since 1987, and served as the 2006 SME President. He was the recipient of the 1990 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, and joined the 2008 Class of SME Fellows.

Gina Laird Dion—"The Award of Merit meant a lot to me because I had been a SME member for almost 20 years. It was a culmination of all of the hard work I had been doing over the years as a region chair and as a student chair." Dion has been a SME member since 1990, and was the recipient of the 2008 Award of Merit.

Paul Nutter, CMfgE—"It's one of those things where you do a doubletake. Am I really receiving this award? But it is okay to feel good about yourself. We all have a tendency sometimes to take our accomplishments for granted and think that others do also, but we can inspire others and make them feel good about themselves. My CMfgE certification and involvement with SME have advanced my career." Nutter has been a SME member since 1972, and is the recipient of the 2009 Award of Merit.

Winston F. Erevelles, PhD—"I am both proud and humbled that the Society of Manufacturing Engineers has honored me twice in the last 10 or so years. To me, the SME awards recognize the work done by a group of dedicated men and women in advancing our profession rather than the accomplishments of an individual. They are also a call to redouble our efforts to strengthen the manufacturing profession and the preparation of the future manufacturing workforce in these challenging economic times." Erevelles has been a SME member since 1989, and was the recipient of the 1996 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award and the 2008 SME Education Award.

Ronald P. Harrelson—"No one does what they do for SME to be considered for this award. You do what you believe needs to be done to move the Society closer to its goals and our members closer to their wants and needs. For me, it caused me to work harder to be sure that the award was truly justified. I never wanted anyone to regret giving it to me. Throughout my working career, my company has provided me a platform to work on, encouraged, and challenged me to stretch and be the best I can be for our business and our profession. Along the way, together with all my peers, we have accomplished some significant tasks, which the Fellows Award recognizes. I value the Fellows Award more for all who made it possible than I do for the accomplishments it recognizes." Harrelson has been a SME member since 1971, and served as the 2000 SME President. He was the recipient of the 1996 Joseph A. Siegel Service Award, and joined the 2002 Class of SME Fellows.

Terry Wohlers, FSME—"I was totally surprised when receiving word that I was being elected to the SME College of Fellows. What a privilege it was to receive this recognition, especially considering that it is one of the most prestigious honors given by the Society. It is something that I will cherish forever." Wohlers has been a SME member since 1989, and joined the 2005 Class of SME Fellows.

Ismail Fidan, PhD—"SME awards are presented only to accomplished and advanced personnel in the manufacturing field. Although awards are based on the accumulated success in the field, they are also the most current representation of motivations and trends in manufacturing research, development, and education." Fidan has been a SME member since 1993, and was the recipient of the 2003 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.

Iris V. Rivero-Diaz, PhD—"I feel honored and humbled as I receive the distinction of the John G. Bollinger Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award. It is a privilege to be recognized among my peers who are doing innovative and outstanding work in manufacturing engineering." Rivero has been a SME member since 1999, and is the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.

Every year, we ask you to take a moment to recognize your peers for their hard work and dedication, and 2009 is no exception. Is there someone you know whose extraordinary accomplishments deserve recognition? If so, visit, and submit your nomination today.



Forming and Fabricating Member Recognized

William J. Riffe
William J. Riffe, PhD, was recently honored for his professional accomplishments and tireless dedication to the Society during the Installation of Officers and Annual Holiday Dinner hosted by Michigan Chapters 1 and 69. Riffe earned his PhD in civil engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology. He then went on to gain expertise in sheet metalforming, product development, innovation in entrepreneurship, and other specialties. For the past two decades, Riffe has shared this wisdom at Kettering University within the Mechanical Engineering Department, where he has developed a reputation as a professor who pushes his students to be outstanding not only in the classroom, but in the real world. Riffe has been a dedicated member volunteer of the Society since 1997. He has been a passionate advocate for the Society and manufacturing in general, and was instrumental in revitalizing SME's former Association for Forming and Fabricating Technologies. In 2003, when the former association evolved into SME's Forming & Fabricating Community, Riffe took on additional leadership roles to make the community a go-to resource for manufacturing professionals. His passion for the forming and fabricating industry can also be found in the technical papers he contributed to SME's former Forming & Fabricating magazine, and his role in developing aspects and selecting winners of the FFC Technical Paper Excellence Award. The Society congratulates Riffe on his dedication and strong leadership throughout the years.   


NAMRC 37 to be Held in South Carolina


In 2009, the North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC) will be held in South Carolina for the first time. The industry focus for the conference will be the automotive sector, both OEMs and suppliers. The event will take place May 19–22 at the new home for the Clemson University Automotive Engineering Program, the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center, a 90,000 ft2 (8360 m2) facility dedicated to automotive research and education. It's located on the same campus as BMW's Information Technology Research Campus and Timken's Technology Center Greenville.

South Carolina is the heart of a newly emerging, high-tech international automotive manufacturing and research sector. Within a 100-mile radius one can find numerous automotive OEM and supplier production facilities, engineering units, and research operations. A series of workshops, industry panels, and industry tours are planned for NAMRC 37 in the Greenville, SC, area, providing a unique opportunity to learn how clusters of companies from the Americas, Europe, and Asia interact to realize collaborative product development and global manufacturing. To learn more, visit


This article was first published in the February 2009 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Published Date : 2/1/2009

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