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SME Speaks: Plotting the Society's Course


Dennis S. Bray

By Dennis S. Bray, PhD, FSME
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Member Since 1985

In Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice comes to the proverbial fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" To which the Cheshire Cat responds, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." and Alice answers, "I don’t much care where." The cat’s profound response is "Then it doesn’t matter which way you go." As in 1865 and now, those words still hold true—we have to know where we are going and what we hope to accomplish when we get there to be successful. With that in mind, SME uses its strategic plan as a roadmap to keep the Society on track and focused on its overall mission and vision.

In 2008, the SME Board of Directors approved SME Strategic Plan 2012, which also resulted in the Society’s current mission "…to acquire and distribute manufacturing knowledge among its members and the broader manufacturing community" and its vision to be "Recognized globally as the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education, and networking." Within this strategic plan, there were six detailed goals:

Goal 1: Knowledge—SME will be the premier manufacturing knowledge resource throughout
the global manufacturing community.

Goal 2: Education—SME and the SME Education Foundation will be known as advocates for careers
in manufacturing and a leading resource for
manufacturing education.

Goal 3: Membership—SME will actively engage people and companies in their communities of interest to add value
for the member.

Goal 4: Brand—SME’s brand creates the image of the most valued source of manufacturing knowledge.

Goal 5: Lean & Effective—SME will be both lean and effective.

Goal 6: Knowledge Delivery—SME will deliver knowledge in ways that meet the needs of members and customers.

Now, in 2012, the board, volunteers, and staff once again are looking at SME’s strategic plan to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to it. The end result will be SME Strategic Plan 2017, which will help clarify the Society’s priorities over the next five years so that we can best meet the needs of our members, customers, and the manufacturing community.

In 2011, a consultant was hired to review SME’s current brand in the marketplace and make recommendations on what the Society needs to do in the future to enhance or update its brand. The recommendations made by the brand consultant are being taken into consideration in our strategic planning process to ensure the Society’s relevance in the marketplace for many years to come.

SME’s successful past strategic plans have served the Society well over the years. Some noteworthy accomplishments from Strategic Plan 2012 include:

  • Transforming SME’s "manufacturing knowledge" (books and videos) into an on-demand digital format. This new Manufacturing Knowledge Resource System includes e-books, streaming video, custom publishing (make your own book), subscription options, and more.
  • The nine-volume Tool & Manufacturing Engineers Handbook (TMEH) encyclopedic reference set for manufacturing has been converted into an interactive WIKI environment.
  • SME purchased Tooling University (Tooling U) in September 2010. The leading provider of online training is now providing a wide range of training programs to companies to help them train and prepare their workforce to meet their business needs.
  • New show events were launched such as AeroDef and Mfg4 to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry.
  • The SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) continues to enhance and expand its programs. In addition to investing in youth programs, the Foundation recently launched a new program—PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education).
  • The size of the SME Board of Directors was reduced to allow for more focused discussions and improved communications to help us govern the Society better.
  • SME launched its new website, and its infrastructure was completely changed with the integration of a new association management system (AMS), including a members-only area of

The Strategic Planning Committee is continuing to work with the Board of Directors, SME volunteers, and SME staff on SME Strategic Plan 2017. A review of this work will take place at the board meeting at the Annual Conference in June with the goal to have the new plan approved by the board at its fall meeting in November. With careful planning and due diligence, Plan 2017 will have considerable impact on the Society and its future, as the many strategies before it have.

We know that manufacturing is not just a building or a process. It is a constantly changing mix of ideas, knowledge, know-how, skills, capital, resources, leadership, and technology that come together to make the things that are needed and wanted by society. Manufacturing is circling the globe at an ever faster pace, and its impact on people’s lives become more dynamic every day.

So when we ask ourselves, like Alice, "Where do we want to go?" our strategic plan is our Cheshire Cat that will help us with the answer. It will ensure we are on the right path to being relevant to manufacturing by being a valued resource for all those who are involved and impacted by manufacturing today and tomorrow. ME


Marcus B. CrottsSME Past President Receives Top Honor

Marcus B. Crotts, FSME, CMfgE, PE, was recently honored by SME-EF with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Crotts is chairman of Crotts & Saunders Engineering, Inc. Previously, he was a tool designer and manufacturing engineer at Western Electric Company. Crotts received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University and his master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois. He has been an SME member since 1956, and is one of the original founders and former chair of SME’s Piedmont No. 82 chapter. In 1986, Crotts was recognized with the Joseph A. Siegel Service Award, and in 1987, he was elected an SME Fellow. Crotts is also a fellow and past vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). For many years now, he has consistently demonstrated his support for the future of manufacturing through his tireless involvement with SME and his generous support as a member of the Foundation’s Myrtle and Earl Walker Founder’s Society. Crotts has found time to hold a variety of officer positions in the SME organization, including SME past president in 2002. He also served as a vital member of the Foundation’s board of directors for more than 15 years. Crotts is very enthusiastic in his feelings about continued support for the future of manufacturing engineering. He believes it is especially crucial during a time that finds many companies outsourcing labor to other countries. "America was built on manufacturing," Crotts said. "Other industries often just redistribute wealth but manufacturing creates wealth. Our support to ensure the future of the US manufacturing workforce really must continue." Congratulations, Marcus!



SME Supports Manufacturing
Innovation 2012


SME members from across the United States traveled to Orlando, FL, for Manufacturing Innovations 2012, an annual event hosted by the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). In all, more than 800 attendees from industry and government came together to make a measurable impact on US manufacturing.

The MEP is housed within the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the US Department of Commerce. Its purpose is to work with small and mid-sized US manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and productivity. As a public/private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment. For every dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates about $30 in new sales growth (or $3.6 billion in new sales annually), and every $1570 of federal investment creates or retains one manufacturing job in the US.

The event featured a number of keynotes, including TV star John Ratzenberger of Cheers fame and more recently his Travel Channel show, Made in America. He gave a powerful message about the need for a strong manufacturing industry to enable a strong US economy. In keeping with the Made in America theme, a myriad of products made in the USA were prominently displayed in the registration area. Ratzenberger spent some time there mingling with attendees and MEP staff to reinforce his message. Made in America

SME has been a supporter of the event and the MEP network for a number of years, primarily because it shares a mission to support small and medium-sized manufacturers. This year, SME was highly engaged in Manufacturing Innovations 2012. SME members and staff delivered almost half of the conference sessions at the event, and SME hosted an industry panel addressing innovation and business development for the benefit of the attendees. Many of the members commented on the natural synergy between MEP and SME, and the value of the partnership between the two organizations. Roger Kilmer, director of the MEP program for NIST, said that "Having SME as a partner for Manufacturing Innovations 2012 really helps us to deliver the voice of the industry to ensure the MEP network is maximizing value for the industry. "

SME also attended the onsite meeting of the MEP National Advisory Board, on which several SME members serve. The board addressed a number of strategic issues for manufacturing in the US, including workforce readiness and development. Dennis Dotson, incoming chair of the MEP National Advisory Board and an SME member, said "SME’s engagement in the national conversation around manufacturing is essential, and the society’s partnership in Manufacturing Innovations 2012 is a clear sign of its commitment to a healthy industry. "

SME plans to continue its support of the MEP, and members who are part of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies can find their local MEP center alongside SME chapters in various states by visiting and selecting the state where your business resides. SME will also be a partner for Manufacturing Innovations 2013, currently planned for April 27–May 1, once again in Orlando, FL.


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


Published Date : 7/1/2012

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