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SME Speaks: Communities: Your Route to Manufacturing Knowledge

Smaller Tomlinson

By Mark C. Tomlinson, CMfgT, CEM
Executive Director and General Manager

In our daily lives, where we continue to balance our work, family, and personal time, acquiring information that supports our professional needs becomes increasingly difficult. Our first recourse is to search the Internet, which can sometimes be overwhelming because of the large amount of information that is available. We also look for articles from publications we subscribe to, such as the one you opened today—Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Both are good sources for increasing our knowledge of the challenges we face in the manufacturing sector, but actually talking to an industry expert is still the best way to improve our ability to grasp a subject or solve a problem we have.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers can help all of us with this problem, and gives us several different ways to obtain the knowledge we desire. Engagement can happen in a personal setting or virtually, in our offices or homes. Here are some examples of how you can connect through SME:



SME local senior and student chapters are one of the best ways for members to engage. Through these local communities you can meet with other members who have a wealth of knowledge and understand the issues facing manufacturing practitioners in your local area. SME Chapters organize and sponsor plant tours, conferences, and guest speakers. They also give SME members a chance to continue developing their leadership skills and professional credentialing by participating in leadership and certification reviews.

One SME member who has broadened his leadership skills is Dave Davidson. Dave, a deburring/surface finish specialist, is chair of Chapter 248 in Spokane, WA. He is also the chair of the Deburring, Edge Finishing & Surface Conditioning Tech Group, and a Machining & Material Removal Community advisor. Dave is a great example of how, by using his local SME Chapter network, an individual can use the resources of the Society to support his professional needs. He has also shown that being an SME member means you are not limited to one area of involvement—you have the power to choose how, when, and where you want to participate.



SME's Technical Community Network (TCN) allows SME members to engage industry experts through tech groups that meet online, face to face, or via teleconferences. Through the TCN, people from around the world can discuss their relevant technical and business challenges. Below are some examples of the great work that TCN members are performing, and how they are contributing to the technical communities and elsewhere:

  • Boris Fritz, an engineer senior technical specialist in the Materials & Processes Laboratory at Northrop Grumman Corp., is a community advisor for the Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing Community, as well as a tech group advisor for the Nanomanufacturing Tech Group. Through his involvement at SME, Boris is supporting the development of technologies and exchanging data on nanotechnology and its manufacturing processes. In 2007, Boris shared his knowledge with members of Chapter 85 at a collaborative event—Nanotechnology: Additive Layer Manufacturing and Beyond. This event was a great opportunity for SME chapter members and community members to connect and work together, as well as to learn more about nanotechnology and its future role.
  • Juergen Boenisch, PhD, is a member of the Product & Process Design and Management Community's Human Side of Lean Tech Group. Recently, Juergen was instrumental in the development of a student program at the 2007 Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) in Toronto. Not only did the program expose students to real-life manufacturing, it also gave Juergen an opportunity to network with many industry leaders in the Ontario, Canada, area. Juergen is the incoming chair of SME Chapter 26, and a newly appointed member of SME's 2008 Member Council.



SME supports our local technical and professional engagement needs by evaluating the state of industries across the globe. As part of SME Plan 2010, three industries were included in its primary strategy: transportation, medical device, and aerospace manufacturing. These industrial strategies, plus evaluations of emerging and resurgent strategies in oil and gas, workforce development, and alternative energy give a focus to the work of the technical communities, and provide direction for our local chapters.

A prime example of how these strategies support the transfer of knowledge is through three events that occurred in 2007:

  • ISAAT 2007 (International Symposium on Advances in Abrasive Technology). This Detroit conference supported all of SME's industry strategies, and was the result of efforts led by Machining & Material Removal Community member/advisor Stuart Salmon, PhD. Stuart is an active technical leader, both at the community level and at the industry level, who provides many ideas and engagement opportunities for the Society.
  • SOUTH-TEC, a longstanding SME trade show in Charlotte, NC, had its educational program transformed using a substrategy of SME's transportation initiative. Using motorsports as the theme, high-ranking industry professionals spoke on the issues facing this fast-growing industry. Many SME members participated and supported the development of this strategy.
  • Members Gary Rodak, a member/advisor of the Metalworking Tech Group and Motorsports initiative, and David Dilly, an advisor for the Motorsports initiative, were instructors at the Efficient Machining for Performance program held in December 2007 in Indianapolis. This program was designed to help individuals understand the cause and effect of changes within the machining process, and allow them to make valuable decisions that can positively affect the bottom line of the production process.

These practitioners, like you, are both sharing and gaining valuable manufacturing knowledge through their SME membership.

As the above examples have shown, SME is your source for manufacturing information and professional development. Please visit the Communities page or Industries page where you can research the chapter in your area, the technical community of interest, or the industry focus area you'd like to be involved in. You can also check out our online forums, which discuss critical manufacturing issues.

So if improving your professional standing or just trying to solve a problem is something you need, SME can help. It starts with first understanding how and where you want to engage. My suggestion is to first contact your local chapter and talk to people who understand the value of SME. Take the first step toward advancing your profession by choosing SME as your go-to place for manufacturing knowledge.


Metalworking Fluids Blog and Newsletter

Members of the Metalworking Fluids Tech Group, part of SME's Machining & Material Removal Community, have launched a new blog. It includes news and information on everything from process and quality issues and technology advances such as near-dry machining to environmental, health, and safety issues. Topics recently posted include:

  • Converting From a Water-Soluble Oil Coolant to a Straight Machining Oil
  • What is MQL or NDM?
  • High-Speed Machining
  • Metalworking Fluids Video

The Metalworking Fluids blog is edited and maintained by the tech group members. To learn more about the Metalworking Fluids Tech Group and its activities, visit


METV Adds a Channel

METVManufacturing Engineering magazine's Web-streaming video channel, METV, now webcasts two complete video programs online each month for free and on demand. Since METV's debut in October 2006, thousands of viewers have watched the videos that examine various manufacturing processes. Many use METV as an opportunity to preview and evaluate the Fundamentals of Manufacturing Processes videos from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers prior to purchasing them. Each month's METV offerings correspond with the topics covered in ME magazine, and can be viewed at


Six Sigma E-Newsletter Goes Monthly

SME's free e-newsletter, Six Sigma Quality in Manufacturing, is now being published monthly. The newsletter, which was previously published bimonthly, provides five timely articles to help you understand six sigma principles, statistical quality analysis techniques, and measurement technology. SME also publishes another free e-newsletter, Lean Directions. Each issue contains five highly focused articles on case examples, principles, and news about using lean techniques. To read the latest issues of the newsletters, visit


Join the Monthly Composites Webinar

Each month (typically the second Tuesday of the month) at 1:00 p.m. EST, the Composites Manufacturing Tech Group, part of SME's Plastics, Composites & Coatings Community, brings you a 1-hr presentation on a composites topic. These live presentations are delivered free right to your desktop; all you need is Internet access and a phone. The webinars are typically 1-hr long, and include an interactive question and answer period. Everyone is invited to participate. To learn more, visit


Mexico to Host NAMRC 36

In 2008, NAMRC will be held in Mexico for the first time. Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico, will be hosting the 36th Annual North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), May 20–23, 2008. Sponsored by the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME (NAMRI/SME), NAMRC is the premier international forum for academic research and industrial applications in manufacturing. Global academic and industrial leaders in manufacturing attend this conference to interact with each other and advance the field. All accepted papers will be published in the peer-reviewed volume, Transactions of NAMRI/SME 2008, Vol. 36.



The Monterrey area is one of the most important manufacturing regions in Mexico, with world-class companies in industrial sectors such as automotive, heavy machinery, home appliances, and aerospace. A series of workshops, industry panels, and industry tours are planned for NAMRC 36, 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. Guests attending NAMRC 36 will also experience the friendship and culture of Mexico through the social program and the strategic location of the event's official hotel in downtown Monterrey. NAMRC 36 in Monterrey will be an exciting event advancing the cutting edge of manufacturing research and providing an atmosphere that promotes international collaboration. To register for this event or to obtain additional information, visit

Published Date : 2/1/2008

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