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SME Speaks: SME Honors Manufacturing's Best and Brightest

Excellence. World Class. Global Leadership. These terms all refer to the best and the brightest. We need these people in all facets of manufacturing today if we are to be world leaders in products and value. The best and the brightest have contributed to all the manufactured goods that we enjoy today, from the ever more efficient and capable aircraft to the electronics that make so many things possible. They keep developing and improving products to make them more affordable for all. They reduce the energy and materials that are consumed in production to improve the sustainability of the planet and those of us who live here.

This month we will gather in Los Angeles for the 2007 SME Annual Meeting, to honor some of manufacturing's best and brightest at the SME International Awards Gala. We honor them for their contributions to manufacturing processes. We honor them for their contributions to manufacturing science. We also honor them for their contributions to manufacturing education. It is critical that we support and encourage the next generation of manufacturing practitioners, for it is the only way we will continue to attract the best and brightest for our future.

At other times throughout the year we honor our Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers and our class of Fellows as well, but it is at the Annual Meeting where we focus our spotlight on the honorees for an entire evening.

The best and brightest are leaders in manufacturing. It is they who have, for instance, developed much better machining and material removal techniques that allow for faster, cheaper, simpler aircraft. These aircraft can carry a higher payload for a longer distance, using less fuel than earlier versions. New forming methods allow for fighter jets to supercruise at over mach 1. These planes have fewer, more robust parts that allow for increased duty cycles. These changes help the sustainability of our fixed natural resources.

The best and brightest in manufacturing have also developed new methods to improve our process yields. This applies to alternative energy generation and better conversion of old fuels into energy just as much as it applies to improving manufacturing processes. For example, there is more and more pressure on oil and gas companies to maximize the amount of usable product or energy that is made available for every barrel of oil that is extracted from the ground or the tar sands. They are in a race to ensure they get the most value from each step in the recovery and refining processes. As manufacturers, we can help them. We can develop and make the most efficient tools and equipment for their use. We can provide the products they need where they need them, when they need them, and only as many as they need.

If we all think of ourselves as the best and brightest and focus on keeping our methods lean, we will reduce the energy and time we take to provide products, obtain customer feedback, and deliver new improved versions sooner and with less cost. That helps the continuous improvement continuum develop and increase its speed. Our focus must stay on the supply chain, and how to make not only our customer, but our customer's customer successful. It is only at that point when we truly gain insight to what is the real value in whatever we are making, and can consider the potential for sustainable growth.

I invite you to join me in honoring the best and the brightest in manufacturing. I hope to see you in Los Angeles when we gather to let these individuals know how important they are to our industries' futures.

The 2007 SME International Awards Gala will be held in Los Angeles on March 26, 2007. For details, visit


A Tribute to Exceptional Achievement:
The 2007 SME International Awards

  The Society of Manufacturing Engineers' International Honor Awards recognize significant contributions to the field of manufacturing engineering in the areas of manufacturing technologies, processes, technical writing, education, research, management, and service to the Society. This year, we honor the following exceptional award recipients for the impact of their work and commitment to the advancement of manufacturing.

SME Education Award

Project Lead The Way Inc.

Project Lead The Way Inc. (PLTW) is recognized with the SME Education Award for development of manufacturing-related curricula, fostering sound training methods, and inspiring students to enter the profession of manufacturing.

PLTW is a national program that unites public schools, higher educational institutions, and the private sector to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from the US school system. Developed by Richard R. Blais, the plan was supported by an advisory board, of which Liebich was a member. With the help of Richard Liebich and his family's foundation grants, PLTW became a national program, which today has more than 175,000 students enrolled nationally in 1700+ schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, PTLW has partnered with the SME Education Foundation to launch STEPS (Science, Technology & Engineering Preview Summer) Academies (youth programs) in numerous PTLW schools throughout the US.


Eli Whitney Productivity Award

SME honors Daniel T. Ariens with the Eli Whitney Productivity Award for his distinguished accomplishments in improving capability within the broad concept of orderly production.

Ariens is considered by many in the manufacturing community a model for US business leadership. He is credited with turning his 72-year-old family business into a lean manufacturing leader. Ariens shares his lean expertise with other companies, serves on several boards, and speaks often about lean manufacturing at conferences and seminars.


SME Gold Medal

Yoram Koren, PhD, FSME, PE University of Michigan Yoram Koren is recognized with the SME Gold Medal for his outstanding service to the manufacturing engineering profession in technical communications through published literature, innovations, technical writing, and lectures.

Koren is credited with creating the scientific underpinnings of the reconfigurable manufacturing paradigm. He is the founding director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Through his research at the center, he has pioneered the creation of a new generation of manufacturing tools and systems that can respond to rapid changes in global markets. He has published over 250 papers and books, was granted 14 US patents, and has given numerous keynote addresses on manufacturing-related topics in many countries. Koren was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal, jointly awarded by ASME and SME.


SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal

Manfred Weck, Dr Ing Technical University Aachen (retired) Manfred Weck is recognized with the SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal for his significant published research, which has led to a better understanding of materials, facilities, principles, operations, and their application to improve manufacturing processes.

Weck is internationally renowned for his research in machine tools and manufacturing systems. He is credited with pioneering the development of experimental modal analysis. He has authored more than 2000 publications, including his series titled, Machine Tools and Manufacturing Systems, which is internationally recognized as the definitive work on machine tools.


Joseph A. Siegel Service Award

SME honors Charles D. Cox with the Joseph A. Siegel Service Award for his significant and unique contributions to the Society.

Cox has been an active and dedicated member of SME for over 38 years, serving several terms as a board member. Cox began his career in shipbuilding in Virginia. At Babcock and Wilcox, he played a key role in the development and manufacture of nuclear reactor systems for the US Navy. He is currently the president of Southern Manufacturing Consultants, which serves the automotive, defense, and power-generation industries. He was granted the SME Award of Merit in 1980, and was elected to the SME College of Fellows in 1992. Cox has also served in various roles within his chapter and on the SME Board of Directors.


SME Albert M. Sargent Progress Award

Warren R. DeVries is the recipient of the SME Albert M. Sargent Progress Award, in recognition of his significant accomplishments in the field of manufacturing processes, methods, and systems.

DeVries has made valued contributions to the field of manufacturing processes, methods, and systems, both as a researcher and educator. In addition to a long history in university teaching, DeVries served as director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Design and Manufacturing Innovation. This division enables discovery, learning, and innovation in design, manufacturing, and service engineering. He is also the author of several books and technical papers on time series and system identification in manufacturing, modeling of material removal processes, and flexible manufacturing.


Donald C. Burnham Manufacturing Management Award

Richard P. McDermott is the recipient of the Donald C. Burnham Manufacturing Management Award, in recognition of exceptional success in the integration of the infrastructure and processes of manufacturing through his innovative use of resources in founding and leading FormTech Industries LLC.

McDermott is considered a technical and entrepreneurial leader in the metalforming industry. He has over 40 years experience in manufacturing. Most recently, McDermott organized FormTech Industries LLC, which acquired the North American forging operations of Metaldyne. FormTech is now the largest supplier of precision-forged components to the automotive industry in North America.

SME is making the path to Lean Certification visible. Through the new "Follow My Lean" promotion, certification candidates and others can see one person's path toward achieving a lean credential. The featured candidate, Daniel Strawser, continuous improvement coordinator for O'Flex Inc., is pursuing the Bronze certification. By hearing from Strawser about his personal experiences as he pursues this certification, others can get a sense of what is involved in the process and how it impacts his work and personal time.

SME is accepting nominations for the 2008 International Honor Awards. If you would like to nominate a candidate, please visit the Awards & Recognition page. Deadline: June 1, 2007.


"Follow My Lean" Tracks One Candidate's Certification Journey

Strawser shares that, "The more I read (lean certification review materials), the more I want to experience things firsthand. I am eager to take values learned on the shop floor with basic lean tools and apply them to the way we run our business. This past year, we implemented a kanban system in our raw material and finished goods areas, as well as improvements to our work cells and machine changeovers. Kaizen projects thus far feel like we're only touching the surface. I'm anxious to apply value stream and spaghetti maps to our operations as a whole and strategically eliminate waste throughout our company. Similar to peeling layers off an onion, I find myself never running out of layers of waste. More waste becomes evident to me each time I walk the shop floor or work in the office."

Learn about Lean Certification at


SME Memories in Manufacturing

This article was first published in the March 2007 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Published Date : 3/1/2007

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