SME Speaks: Let SME Be Your Information 'Megastore'
By Richard C. Peters, CMfgE, PE
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
I'm not much of a shopper. I'm like the little kid who gets dragged, kicking and screaming, to buy school clothes. And when I do find a pair of casual khaki slacks or dress shirts that work, I generally buy several so that I don't have to shop again for a while. (Unfortunately, I've discovered this only works if your weight stays constant!) There is only one shopping excursion that I enjoy--a trip to the local "hardware megastore." I'm in Nirvana as I wander up and down the aisles, staring and drooling at tool after tool. Some are tools that I need; others are better, faster or more powerful versions of tools I currently own; and still others are tools that I didn't even know I needed until I discovered they existed. All the tools I need, or could ever need, are together in one place. I can see them all, hold them, test them out. So many tools, so little time.
Like many of you, I have even less time to shop around for the tools I need for my professional growth than I do for crescent wrenches and screwdrivers. I know that I need tools that will help me continuously improve my knowledge base, stay on top of new technologies, and enhance my skills. There are so many groups and information sources that clamor for my attention as they try to sell me their tools--universities, trade organization telemarketers, Web sites, and training-company spammers. I don't have time to listen to each spiel, then weed out which group can serve each of my needs. That's why I've relied heavily on a one-stop shopping point--one "megastore" that can provide all the tools I need to advance my professional career.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has been filling that bill quite nicely for me for over 20 years. SME is the world's largest "megastore" where manufacturing comes together with information resources, contacts, professional opportunities and other tools to help me advance in my career and get an edge on my competitors. SME's tools fit with the needs of manufacturers in every discipline, in every industry, and at every stage of their career.
- If you are a manufacturing engineer, SME is for you.
- If you work in a production facility, are in R&D, or design things for a living, SME has something you need.
- If you are a professor, a teacher, or a student, SME can provide the materials to make your life easier.
- Is your job in sales and marketing, administration, management, quality, or lean production? Let SME help you be the best at what you do.
How can one organization provide everything that all manufacturing professionals need to be successful? It's fairly simple. SME's mission is to provide what manufacturing professionals, managers, educators, and students need to advance themselves and their profession, and SME tools are designed by and for them. SME's tens of thousands of members know exactly what they need to be successful, and they have been pooling their brain-power for 72 years to make sure their Society's tool kit is full, and that their tools are always up to date and complete.
Do you need information on a technical subject, or for a new application being planned for your facility? Do you want a more thorough knowledge of the technologies that would make your facility operate more efficiently and learn what others are doing in your field?
SME expands your knowledge base. The Society provides members access to hundreds of informative (and free) technical papers on leading-edge topics, and the latest advances in existing technologies. The Society also organizes technical conferences throughout the world, covering relevant technical subject matter. You can hear from experts, ask questions that will get immediate answers, and learn about practical applications that you can use to improve your operations.
Do you want to see current and new technologies in operation? Do you want to talk with the experts who manufacture them?
SME increases your awareness of new technologies. The Society hosts several of the nation's largest and most well-respected expositions where thousands of manufacturers--large and small--display their wares. You can watch machines cycle right in front of you, and discuss with the manufacturers how that equipment or technology will work for you and your operation.
Do you need to expand your group of contacts in the manufacturing world? Would you like to meet with your peers in industry so you can discuss problems, share best practices, and compare successes?
SME helps you enhance your skill sets through what you learn from others in your field. The Society has chapter groups of members throughout the world. Chapter members meet frequently for dinner meetings, which typically include speakers on topics ranging from high-speed machining, to design for manufacturability, to fuel cell development. Chapter-organized plant tours provide you with exclusive opportunities to "walk the floors" and see, in action, the technologies and processes of the world's most productive and advanced factories.
SME provides these things, and much more, to manufacturing professionals who want to make a difference in their companies and their careers.
Let's go back to my hardware store experience for a minute. I recently read that there are only two tools that the average person needs to have in order to survive the majority of household challenges: WD-40 and duct tape. The theory goes, "If it doesn't move and it should, use the WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use the tape." Having purchased and used a lot of both of these tools in my lifetime, I believe there is some truth in the simplicity of these statements.
A lot of people really want only a few, basic tools from SME as well. Many members, for instance, get everything they need through this magazine, a particular technical conference track, or chapter meetings. And that's okay. In fact, that's the advantage of maintaining a membership in this great society. Having established a complete informational, technical, and professional knowledge network--a full set of tools, if you will--SME is well equipped to match the needs of each of its members on an individual-by-individual basis.
So whether you're a "megastore" browser, like me, or you just need a few sources of information, SME has what you're looking for to obtain and maintain your competitive edge. Put the Society to work in your career today. SME has the right tools for the job!
Web-Based Resource Provides Help
With the loss of three million jobs (14% of the workforce) in the last three years, manufacturing industries in North America are facing competitive challenges like never before. To keep its members informed, up to date, and involved in large-scale manufacturing debates and discussion--while providing them with the tools and access they need to influence the future of their industries--SME recently launched a new Web resource, available at the top of its homepage (www.sme.org). This new resource provides basic, up-to-date information about jobs, salaries, employment shifts, skill set needs, industry perspectives, and news articles, in addition to descriptions of SME's efforts and initiatives and ways for active manufacturers to get involved in influencing the future of manufacturing through the Society.
This Web resource also provides a central list of contacts--with e-mails, addresses and phone numbers--for concerned manufacturers to go to for more detailed information related to particular issues, industries, or interests. Also, the site provides a comprehensive list of organizations and people for users to go to in order to make their voices heard by government.
This article was first published in the January 2004 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.