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SME Speaks: 2012, A Promising Year Ahead

LaRoux K. Gillespie


By LaRoux K. Gillespie, Dr. Eng., FSME, CMfgE, PE 
SME President 
Member Since 1963 



 For all of us at SME, 2012 will be a year filled with life and image-impacting events. In 2011, the SME Board of Directors and staff initiated several truly monumental changes to the Society’s infrastructure. The new Association Management System (AMS) will be live this month. This totally new construction of all things digital (information technology) provides SME with more insight into what our members and customers are looking for, and ultimately how well we’re delivering our products and services in an easier-to-use, Web-based format. In addition, SME members can now create their own SME member-only e-mail address, which will allow us to stay in better contact with students and other members on the move. Many other improvements this year include:

 1. Enhancement of the digital version of Manufacturing Engineering magazine, which already contains much more than the printed version, including the in-depth membership supplement @SME. 

 2. The Tool and Manufacturing Engineers Handbook (TMEH) Handbook is being revised electronically, drawing from the tens of thousands of pages of technology we have and from the new insights provided by today’s volunteer writers, reviewers, and editors. Going forward, SME will easily be able to keep up with the fast pace of technology and engage our members in ways we haven’t been able to do before. 

 3. A new professional journal will be launched, offering an exciting new approach to publishing for many in our academic and industrial community. 

 4. Membership will continue to grow, and for a variety of reasons, the Society will see more member and volunteer involvement in its local chapters and technical communities with students of all ages. 

 5. SME will see a significant increase in the number of students enrolled in Tooling U. With 30,000 students currently taking classes, SME is rapidly becoming a leading training center in the US—we want to continue to grow this reputation in 2012. 

 6. Perhaps most revolutionary will be the introduction of made-to-order publications/content for our members/customers. Need everything you can find on drilling deep holes in composites? SME now has the ability to gather all that we have documented on that subject matter and compile it for you in minutes, including book chapters and videos. Each customer can have his/her own tailored book, training manual, or encyclopedia—prepared with the user in mind—delivered quickly and easily.

7. While the Society’s name includes “Engineer,” SME for decades has always included a much more diverse group than just engineers. We will expand on that this year. You will hear SME and “high school” and “K-12” again and again as a result of the SME Education Foundation’s (SME-EF) efforts as well as other SME activities. Exciting changes are already in development in high schools throughout the US. You will see many examples of how SME is helping to provide a trained workforce in a manner that allows those who work on the production floor to also carry that knowledge through to college degrees. 

As your 2012 SME president, I would like to see several other important changes. For many years now, the SME Leadership Series has helped chapters and technical community leaders gain more insight into leading a successful volunteer operation, including creating a mission/vision and strategic planning. I would like to see every chapter and tech community send at least one leader to a Leadership Series this year. SME pays the basic expenses for these events, and I can tell you from personal experience, the Leadership Series truly makes a difference, both professionally and personally. The series are exciting, fast paced, and thought provoking; various members of the SME Board of Directors also attend, participate, and interact with members.  

In addition to increasing the participation in the Leadership Series, the Society needs help filling its pipeline of volunteer leaders. There are currently more than 1500 leadership opportunities available for our members. While we do have current leaders in place, there are very few people in line to take on their roles in the future. We need your help in this effort. Tell us who you think would benefit from being in a leadership role. Who have we missed? Who has overlooked SME? Help us fill the pipeline of future SME leaders by going to and completing the Volunteer Leader Watch List Form.

Last, this is a year I would like to see us all appreciate how much SME can, has, and will change lives. For every child we excite about a career in manufacturing, we change their life. For every person we train and/or educate, we change their life. For every new manufacturing person who goes to work in a small company, they change the success of that company and that company’s continued success affects the lives of every person it employs. For every successful company, there is a thriving community. For every person who obtains a job through SME’s Jobs Connection, their life is changed. For every person who writes a technical paper and begins to establish their reputation, their life is changed. For every person who gains leadership experience, their life is changed.  

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” That’s what SME does and will continue to do. SME will make a difference in 2012 to hundreds and thousands of people. Let’s all change lives. We can all do that. It’s what your SME president would like to see in 2012—a world we made better through all of our efforts. ME    


SME’s 2011 Fall Awards and Installation Banquet Travels to the Windy City 

SME’s 2011 Fall Award and Installation Banquet was held in Chicago on November 12. During this banquet, the 2011 SME College of Fellows were honored and the 2012 SME president, SME Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Member Council were installed. In addition, the retiring directors and Member Council were recognized for their service to the Society, as was 2011 SME President Paul Bradley, LSME, PE. Following is a pictorial of these activities:

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2013 SME Board of Directors and Member Council. SME members interested in being considered for one of these positions are welcome to apply. Applications can be found at and must be submitted by February 15. 

This article was first published in the January 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF


Published Date : 1/1/2012

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