SME Speaks: SME Plans for a Successful Tomorrow
By Eugene M. Nelson
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
As we embark on this new year and I find myself in a new post as president of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, I reflect on the world in which we live, work, and manufacture, and how SME is changing to meet members'--and industry's--evolving needs. Our global economy, international trade rules, rising costs of materials and energy--among other things--are changing the face of manufacturing. While the decline in manufacturing jobs in North America is partly due to our own success in increasing productivity and advancing our processes and technologies, global manufacturing is a reality and is here to stay.
To be competitive, today's manufacturers must develop world-class production systems. We must embrace ingenuity and rely on our strengths and innovation to develop the systems and technologies of the future because our workforce will need advanced skills to develop new industries, capital-intensive technologies, and value-added products.
SME, the world's leading advocate for manufacturing education, is at the helm of these emerging technologies. The year 2005 marks the launch of SME Plan 2010, a strategic roadmap that will shape the Society's educational offerings, and help it ensure visibility for manufacturing industries. This new plan builds on past successes like the launch of a very successful--and rapidly growing--Technical Community Network with expanded engagement opportunities for SME members, and it emphasizes manufacturing education as a principal concern.
A key example of how the Society can help manufacturing professionals obtain the knowledge they need to succeed, the Technical Community Network is comprised of seven areas that broadly represent key technologies within the manufacturing enterprise, each including a variety of specialized technical groups through which hundreds of members meet and collaborate regularly. This network is already providing relevant conferences, career tools, and on-line information, and will have even more importance for participants--and manufacturing--in the future.
The Society is also at the forefront in developing the workforce of the future through the SME Education Foundation. The Foundation's work with business and academia has identified key competency gaps and addressed them by helping shape related manufacturing curricula. Through its scholarships and youth programming, the Foundation also increases awareness and support for manufacturing as a preferred career choice for tomorrow's workforce. On our way to 2010, the Foundation will play an even greater role.
By continuing to strengthen the Society's senior and student chapters through flexible leadership and engagement opportunities, SME works to ensure that membership fits with today's busy lifestyles. SME's Member Council focuses on providing constant support to chapters. As they work to grow and meet their members' needs, chapters are also assisted by new membership consultants who act as liaisons and guides. These experienced SME volunteers, along with full-time staff member relations managers, help SME members get more involved and receive greater value from their Society.
Alliances and reciprocal memberships with other organizations that bring greater value to SME members have helped SME expand its scope and knowledge base and will continue to help its members address the challenges manufacturing will face in the coming years.
Focused on helping members succeed, the SME Plan 2010 builds on the momentum of past activities and includes a focus on both individuals and manufacturing companies. It will be implemented with attention to all members, but with special emphasis on students. The plan looks forward to the growth of our chapters and technical communities as key to success.
As the 2005 SME president, it is my goal to help lead the Society's continuous evolution into the future, and I look forward to continuing the work that will maintain SME as the world's leading advocate for manufacturing education. With our SME Plan 2010 as our guide, we will continue to support manufacturing excellence. Join us on the road to tomorrow. It leads to improved competitive agility for manufacturers worldwide.
Bringing Manufacturing People and Information Together
SME's Technical Community Network (TCN) offers a flexible framework for manufacturing professionals, students and educators to meet their information needs. The network consists of seven communities that represent key areas within the manufacturing enterprise:
- Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing
- Product & Process Design and Management
- Engineering Materials Applications
- Machining and Material Removal
- Forming & Fabricating
- Automated Manufacturing & Assembly
- Manufacturing Education & Research.
Each community includes a wide variety of specialized technical groups through which members meet and collaborate regularly to advance both their individual knowledge and collective intelligence within specific technology areas.
Through these meetings, manufacturing professionals can get quick answers to questions from world-renowned experts, share their own ideas and best practices, and collaborate with like-minded individuals to guide new and improved SME informational resources, services, programs, and events that meet current and evolving manufacturing challenges. Participants have opportunities to develop and participate in forums, conferences, and online discussions (available 24/7) to exchange knowledge. They publish technical papers, case studies, and research, and stay on top of what's happening in their interest areas through quarterly e-newsletters, benefit updates, blue books, and more.
Since the launch of the TCN in June 2004, its members have guided the development of new events, programs and tools. For instance, the TCN's new flagship event, the SME Summit, brings those interested in all technology areas together annually to share information. This conference is a forum for knowledge exchange and networking and includes presentations on new applications and advanced technologies that span the entire manufacturing discipline. The next SME Summit will take place August 3 - 4, 2005, in Oconomowoc (Milwaukee), WI, and will focus on leading technologies, innovative strategies for manufacturers in all industries, and tools to improve products and processes.
Also, the Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) community developed and launched a new Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Certificate program. The three-level certificate program provides manufacturing professionals involved in rapid prototyping with a comprehensive understanding of the key concepts of rapid technology applications, systems, and materials, a chance for participants to distinguish themselves as "masters" of this fast-growing technology and an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition. Rapid prototyping users can achieve associate, professional, or master-level certificates. Notable program graduates include industry consultant and analyst Terry Wohlers, of Wohlers Associates, and Todd Grimm, industry consultant and author of The User's Guide to Rapid Prototyping.
Within the Product & Process Design and Management Community, the Supply Chain Collaboration Technical Group is working with members of the Manufacturing Education & Research Community to evaluate and refine a manufacturing enterprise model that will be used as a basis for improving systems thinking. The team's proposed model outlines the factors that influence the environmental, legal, and societal dimensions of the 21st Century manufacturing enterprise, how the factors are connected, and how they add value.
Other resources developed through involved TCN members include an Injection Molded Part Cost Estimator developed by members of the Injection Molding Technical Group--part of SME's Engineering Materials Applications Community--and a metalworking fluids certificate program developed by members of the Machining and Material Removal Community. Developed in partnership with the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, the program focuses on readying professionals to manage metalworking fluids better for longer tool life, shorter cycle times, and increased productivity.
Expand your network through SME's TCN today. Visit www.sme.org/join today to get started immediately or visit www.sme.org/TCNintro for more information about the TCN. Questions? Telephone the SME Resource Center at 800-733-4763.
This article was first published in the January 2005 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.