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SME Speaks: 2009: The Year in Review

Richard W. Shoemaker







When I began my term as SME President in January, the recession was in full swing, and all of us were feeling the effects of the economic downturn. It's now late 2009, and the Federal Reserve has indicated that "the recession is ending and the economy is finally growing again" (AP, 2009). Let us hope that the Fed is correct.

Individually and collectively, we've all learned valuable lessons from living in and coping with the recession. Your Society has a significant focus on the concept of Lean, and the past months have given most of us the opportunity to participate in this concept, both personally and professionally, whether formally trained or not. SME has embraced Lean for many years, but one of the remarkable features of the discipline is that there is always more that can be done. This has been the case in SME's response to recession-induced impacts, particularly to our publications and trade shows. These services of necessity have had to adapt quickly. We were also worried that job loss would have a significant effect on membership. SME has suffered some loss, but surprisingly not as much as expected. We feel strongly that the Society needs to focus on our members, and do whatever we can to help them through these tough times. Also, we are making a concerted effort to promote the importance of manufacturing and manufacturing education in this country.

The SME Board of Directors first action in February was to offer to the unemployed a reduced membership rate—$30 for six months. With unemployment reaching all-time highs this year, it was understandable that many people may place their membership dues on the back burner. However, this is where networking becomes essential and necessary for one's success and survival. The member leaders of Detroit No. 1 are a perfect example of this, as all of them, at one point, were unemployed. They coped with their unfortunate circumstances by becoming more involved in the Society, sharpening their leadership skills, renewing and/or upgrading their credentials, and helping other unemployed individuals in their local area.

Because many other SME members are in the same situation as members in Detroit, SME launched a new Job Support page, This new page offers a condensed look at all of the member benefits we offer that may be useful to displaced workers. One essential SME benefit included on the page, and one that I've highlighted before, is SME's Jobs Connection, which currently has more than 700 manufacturing-related jobs and a resume bank of more than 1900 potential job candidates.

The number of jobs currently available through Jobs Connection is a testament to the fact that US manufacturing jobs are still available and needed, as is the manufacturing industry itself. The Obama administration's recent appointment of Ron Bloom as manufacturing czar further reinforces the importance of manufacturing to the US economy. Bloom will be charged with reviewing US competitiveness in the global economy. His job will include coordinating with the departments of Commerce, Treasury, Energy, and Labor to integrate current programs with new initiatives (The Washington Post, 2009).

While the President and Ron Bloom are working on manufacturing from the public sector's side, SME's leadership staff and the members themselves have devoted a lot of time and energy to being vocal advocates of manufacturing by publishing opinion pieces in mainstream media. In a recent editorial for the Star-Gazette, Vincent Howell, chair of Elmira No. 24 (Elmira, NY), wrote "Manufacturing is the backbone to our economy. When manufacturing is strong, our economy is strong." In a letter to the Holland Sentinel, David Kane, chair of Grand Rapids No. 38 (Grand Rapids, MI), went on to write "...manufacturing is high-tech, highly automated, and in need of innovative, problem-solving workers." Howell and Kane's outlook is shared by Ron Bloom who stated that ..."a strong manufacturing sector is a cornerstone of American competitiveness" (The Washington Post, 2009). To quantify these statements, in 2008, US manufacturing generated $1.64 trillion worth of goods. The manufacturing sector generates more than 13% of the nation's GDP, making it a bigger contributor to the economy than retail trade, finance, or the health-care industry (, 2009).

While the facts and figures indicate how important manufacturing is to the economy, it's even more important to remember that the perception of manufacturing affects the future generation of manufacturing engineers and practitioners. There are many parts of SME that are trying to change the perception of manufacturing as being more than just an assembly line job. The SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) in particular has been outstanding in this area. Even with 2009's economic challenges, the Foundation has successfully continued its efforts to inspire K–12 youth to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Through SME-EF's efforts, 237 Gateway Academies took place in 36 states with more than 7100 students in attendance. This number is significant because in 2006, when the academies were first launched, there were only five academies and 95 students in attendance. Since then, more than 12,000 students have participated in SME-EF's youth programs, and the number of camps has increased by 47%. Reaching and energizing these kids is our investment in the future.

The Foundation's efforts and the various other activities that I have outlined above show us that, although 2009 was a difficult year, we held to our mission and adapted to the environment. The Board's long-standing policy of protecting the Society with financial reserves allowed us to do this. The reserves, though taxed in this past year, remain sound and are growing again as our financial markets recover.

I am honored to have served as your President, and pleased to report that the incoming 2010 Officers, Directors, along with SME staff and our wonderful member volunteers, are exceptionally capable and prepared to lead SME into the coming years. My best wishes to all for 2010.


Election Results for International Directors and Member Council

SME announces the election of six new members to its Board of Directors and four members to its Member Council for 2010. All will be installed on November 14, 2009, at the SME Fall Board of Directors Meeting in Dearborn, MI. Their terms officially began on January 1, 2010. 



International Directors


Dean L. Bartles   Dean L. Bartles, PhD, is vice president and general manager of the Large Caliber Ammunition Strategic Business Unit for the Ordnance and Tactical Systems Division of General Dynamics Corp. Bartles, an SME member since 2002, has more than 30 years of management experience, which has included positions with Fairchild Republic Co., General Defense Corp., Olin Ordnance, and Primex Technologies Inc.



Dennis S. Bray   Dennis S. Bray, PhD, FSME, incumbent director, is the former president and CEO of Cincinnati Inc., an advanced manufacturer of metalworking machinery with some 500 employees. A member of the Society since 2002, Bray was elected to the SME College of Fellows in 2003. In 2005 he chaired the SME Manufacturing Enterprise Council (MEC), and has been a member of that group since 2002.



Michael F. Molnar   Michael F. Molnar, FSME, CMfgE, PE, is the director of environmental policy and sustainable development for Cummins Inc. He has been an active SME member since 1982. Recent SME involvement includes two years on the SME Member Council, where he presently serves as chair. Prior to this, he chaired the Technical Communities Steering Committee and served as chair for the Automated Manufacturing & Assembly Community.



Robert R. Nesbitt   Robert R. Nesbitt, CMfgE, is manager of advanced development and research advisor at Eli Lilly and Co. in the Pharmaceutical Delivery Systems Division. Nesbitt joined SME in 1984 and is a member of Indianapolis No. 37. He served on the SME Board of Directors in 2008, and is currently a member of the SME Member Council. He was educated at Iowa State University and the University of Chicago.



Richard C. Peters   Richard C. Peters, LSME, CMfgE, PE, incumbent director, is plant manager for The Timken Co. Peters, who joined SME in 1979, served as the 2004 SME President, and is a past chair of Greater Canton (Ohio) No. 110. He has chaired the SME Member Council, and is a past chair and past member of the SME Professional Licensure Committee. Peters has a BS from The Ohio State University and an MS from the University of Akron, both in mechanical engineering.



Jack H. Schron Jr.   Jack H. Schron Jr., incumbent director, is president of Jergens Inc. and cofounder and president of Tooling University LLC. An SME member since 2002, Schron previously served on the SME Board Work Group on Governance and the Audit Committee. He received his bachelor's degree from Florida Southern College, and his Juris Doctor degree from Ohio Northern University Law School.


Member Council 


Sampson E. Gholston   Sampson E. Gholston, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management at The University of Alabama (Huntsville). Gholston, who joined SME in 1989, is chair of North Alabama No. 171, and faculty advisor for The University of Alabama–Huntsville S325 student chapter.



Edward G. Halloran   Edward G. "Ed" Halloran, CMfgE, PE, is president of HALCO Management Systems. An SME member since 1975, Halloran was a longtime member of Los Angeles Area Manufacturing Management No. 27, and more recently a member of Seattle No. 39, where he served as the 2006 chapter chair. He is currently the student-chapter advisor for Edmonds Community College S357.



Bonnie Knopf   Bonnie Knopf is the president of Intrepid Plastics Manufacturing. She has a bachelor's in plastics engineering technology from Ferris State University. Knopf, who joined SME in 2001, has held all of the chapter executive board positions and is currently the SME Membership Consultant for West Michigan. She leads the local chapter fundraising for student scholarships, and was involved in planning and executing a major manufacturing expo for the West Michigan area.



Chris J. Riegel   Chris J. Riegel, CMfgE, PE, is manager, process improvement, at Amsted Rail. An SME member since 1991, Riegel has served in a variety of elected and appointed positions for Des Moines No. 80, including chapter chair in 1996. Riegel served on the 2003-04 SME Member Council. He received the SME President's Award and the 2006 SME Award of Merit.


SME members interested in being considered for a seat on the Board or Member Council may apply by submitting an application on or before February 15, 2010. Visit and click on "volunteers" to learn more.


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

Published Date : 12/1/2009

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