thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / SME Speaks

SME Speaks: Time to Make a Difference







By Richard C. Peters, CMfgE, PE
Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Can I have a few minutes of your time?

If you're like most people, the answer to that question is a spontaneous and resounding "No!" In spite of all of today's technological advancements, process efficiencies, and communication improvements, we are busier than ever. And the little free time we do have is usually reserved for family, friends or rest. Yet sometimes you have to make room for other activities that you find rewarding.

Most of us find it more satisfying to participate in life than to watch from the sidelines. We'd rather hike the Grand Canyon or ride Splash Mountain than read about those places. Actually experiencing them gives us memories that can never be replaced. Likewise, most of us would rather ski or golf than watch others play. By participating, we get to enjoy the spirit of competition, the adrenaline rush, and better health.

If you're a parent, you also know the satisfaction of participating in your children's growth, in giving them the skills they need for survival: everything from simple skills--like tying shoes or riding a bike--to more complex activities like driving or cooking. Sure, our children could learn these skills some other way, but when we are involved--when we invest in the learning experience--we reap the benefits of knowing that because we took that time, we made a difference in a life.

We can get the same kind of satisfaction from participating in our profession. We have learned many things through the years, and our experiences are invaluable. To promote and preserve manufacturing, we need to share our knowledge with the manufacturing engineers of today and tomorrow.

I'm not suggesting that you devote every spare moment to this mission. But if enough of us take part, a fairly small time commitment is required from each of us and, collectively, we can make a great impact.

SME exists to advance the manufacturing profession and, to be successful, we need members who will commit their time, and actively participate in this mission. Yet, not all manufacturing engineers are members, and not all of our 40,000 members participate in local events or leadership roles. Think of the possibilities that would open up before us if all manufacturing engineers joined SME, and a majority then engaged in the opportunities presented by the Society to share their skills, exercise their voices in government or the media, or advance their knowledge. If each member devoted only two hours a month, that would translate into millions of hours of manufacturing edification, skill sharing, and PR in 2004 alone!

If you're not already a member, join today. Then get involved in some way. If you find you like what you're doing and down the road you want to invest more time, great. That's what happened to me!

So, just what can you do? Here are ten things, just for starters.

  • Serve as a judge in a local science fair. Support budding engineers as they explore the wonders of science and manufacturing.
  • Participate in a Career Day in your local school district. Help students learn what manufacturing involves, what subjects to take to prepare for a career in manufacturing, and how rewarding that career can be.
  • Become active in your local SME chapter. Arrange a plant tour, find speakers for a meeting, or make a presentation yourself. Serve as a committee chair or officer.
  • Get involved in one of the new leadership positions that support the Society's chapters and local activities.
  • Organize a Manufacturing Engineer-For-A-Day program for high school students at your business. Show students what's involved in manufacturing engineering, and encourage them to consider manufacturing careers.
  • Teach at a vocational/technical school or college.
  • Join a SME technical community in your area of expertise.
  • Write a technical paper on a product, process or theory you've developed, and present it at a conference.
  • Make a donation to SME's Education Foundation, which funds scholarships for tomorrow's manufacturing engineers.
  • Serve on civic boards or committees, where you can get the faces and voices of manufacturing seen and heard in your community.

These ideas can get you started. For more information, visit SME's web site at

Why not make a commitment today to "give something back" to your profession? The manufacturing profession will benefit, present and future manufacturing engineers will thank you, and you will probably even have fun!

In fact, I bet that you'll enjoy what you're doing so much that those hours you invest for the good of manufacturing will seem like just a few minutes. And that's all I really asked for at the beginning of this column!



Boeing Takes Its Expertise to WESTEC
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers and The Boeing Company, regarded as leaders in the advancement of manufacturing and aerospace technologies, are collaborating at WESTEC 2004, the largest annual manufacturing and metalworking event on the West Coast. WESTEC will be held March 22 - 25 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

SME members and The Boeing Company have developed a world-class technical conference, "New Frontiers in Manufacturing Technology." With a focus on globally competitive manufacturing, the conference is designed to give manufacturers the tools they need to thrive in the challenging manufacturing environments of today and tomorrow. Attendees will examine philosophies, approaches and strategies in implementing new technologies and processes from Boeing, its suppliers, and many other leading manufacturers.

In addition to a Software Pavilion and a Job Shop Pavilion, a new Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Pavilion will integrate the technologies explored at the conference.

Each morning, the "New Frontiers" conference begins with a free keynote event. On March 23, a keynote will be delivered by Scott C. Strode, vice president, Production and Quality - 7E7 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. On March 24, Timothy J. Copes, vice president, Quality and Mission Assurance, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, is the keynoter. And on March 25, attendees will hear from Mark L. DeVoss, director, Supplier & Materials Management, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

The Boeing Company has also teamed with SME members to develop the Society's first-ever Professional Development Conference, which will be held alongside WESTEC on March 21 - 22. The conference, "Developing a Competitive Edge for Manufacturing Professionals," will help attendees learn how to successfully manage people, resources, and careers.

For complete details about WESTEC and to register today, visit or call (800) 733-4763 (US) or (313) 271-1500, Ext. 4500.


SME Launches Advanced Energy Systems Conference
SME is planning a first-of-its-kind advanced energy technologies conference, "Advanced Energy and Fuel Cell Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities for Manufacturers," to be held October 12 and 13 at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn (Dearborn, MI).

While dozens of organizations have held events on fuel cells and alternative energy technologies, and SME has participated in many of them, this is the first conference on the topic developed primarily to meet the information needs of manufacturers. This conference will demystify fuel cell technologies by featuring interactive displays and exhibits of automotive, portable, and stationary fuel cells. Researchers and developers of these technologies will deconstruct a fuel cell and show manufacturers how these devices work, and how they are assembled. Manufacturers will, in turn, learn how they can position themselves to become a supplier to the industry in an effort to produce these parts more cost effectively.

Participants will hear about the challenges of manufacturing fuel cells both cost effectively and in low volumes while developing a supply network capable of producing the components and advanced materials that make up a fuel cell. In addition to discussing supply-chain opportunities, conference participants will learn how they can reduce their energy costs by implementing lean energy management practices within their operations.

Conference speakers will include senior executives and technical and research experts from a cross-section of industries and organizations, including: Argonne National Laboratory, The Boeing Company, Center for Automotive Research, DTE Energy, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Motorola Inc., NASA, Toshiba Corporation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Corporation, US Department of Defense, and the US Department of Energy.

Topics will include:

  • Fundamentals of advanced energy and fuel cell technologies and systems
  • Types of fuel cells
  • Market opportunities for companies and their suppliers who manufacture fuel cells
  • Designing for manufacturability and developing a supply network capable of producing fuel cell components and materials
  • Challenge of manufacturing fuel cells cost effectively and in low volumes
  • Cross-industry applications of advanced energy technologies

For information on attending, speaking, or sponsoring opportunities at this event, please contact SME at (800) 733-4763 (in the US) or (313) 271-1500, Ext. 4500, or visit SME's Advanced Energy Technology Web site for more details.


This article was first published in the March 2004 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Published Date : 3/1/2004

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665