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SME Speaks: A Freshman's Reflection

  Melly Meyers

By Melly Meyers
2010 SME Education Foundation
Family Scholarship Recipient

As the academic year comes to a close, I can confidently look back and say that I am proud of all I have accomplished here on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a nuclear engineering undergraduate. The college experience is so much better than I ever expected it to be—and I expected it to be pretty awesome! That is not to say these past two semesters have been easy by any means. Last September, I was plucked out of the comfortable, predictable, and stable lifestyle that I had been living for almost two decades. Thrown into a tumultuous sea of strangers in an unfamiliar city, I began the daunting task of facing my future. This past year has changed my perspective of the world, brought my goals into focus, and helped me grow as a person more than any other experience of my life thus far. My success as a college freshman is greatly attributed to the generous support of the SME Education Foundation.

Despite my prior achievements in numerous advanced placement classes, I was certainly challenged by the rigorous university coursework. The first few months of my college career were spent confined to the library. Frequently, my mom would receive a phone call from her distraught daughter in need of reassurance. It was in one of those stressful times that a former teacher gave me this valuable piece of advice: "Beware of the A-student; they are great at figuring out the system, but probably not so good at life."

I took that advice to heart and opened my eyes to all of the incredible opportunities residing outside of the campus classrooms and lecture halls. I learned to balance the long nights of studying with different types of learning. I experienced my first Badger football game, while meeting an array of new people. When Chancellor Biddy Martin declared February 2 a snow day, I joined hundreds of my classmates on Bascom Hill for the all-campus snowball fight. I voted for the first time in my life and witnessed the political bustle concentrated in Wisconsin’s capital city. I bought fresh produce at the farmer’s market to prepare my own dinners. I attended fitness classes at the gym and frequently rode my bike on the paths along Lake Mendota. Essentially, I learned to balance the stresses of school with other important aspects of college life.

More importantly, I devoted time to pursuing my passionate interests within the College of Engineering. As Polygon Engineering Student Council secretary, I worked with the administration to ensure the student organizations on campus were represented. In addition, I now write for Wisconsin Engineer magazine—a quarterly publication run entirely by engineering students. In developing my first-ever published article, I interviewed distinguished research professors and discovered the applications of diamond-like carbon in nanomanufacturing.

Furthermore, I attended events exclusive to the College of Engineering, like the Engineering Career Fair, and gained crucial networking skills. I volunteered at Engineering Expedition, demonstrating activities involving amorphous metals and nanostained glass.

I am also a new member of the UW-Madison’s Tech Store staff. For a few hours a week, I help students and faculty with all of their computer-related needs. Being a geek at the Tech Store allows me to learn just as much as it allows me to help customers. Because of the position, I was able to take a Student Technical Training classes in which I analyzed the inner hardware of a computer.

So while my GPA may not be the untarnished gem it was back in high school, I can honestly say that I have gained more knowledge from my freshman year than ever before. Looking back, I have been presented with countless opportunities to participate in activities that truly interest me. I am so grateful for the privilege to attend a school where I am challenged to reach my full potential. I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to because I have the support of peers who are equally enthusiastic about my endeavors. It is with immense gratitude that I accredit my newly found self-confidence to the SME Education Foundation. After a successful year, I cannot wait to continue to my college experience—and continue to share my journey with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers! ME


Bike Chain Wins Grand Prize

California State University, Chico was the big winner of the AeroDef Manufacturing Challenge Contest for its mountain bike chain guide, the Bash Guard Manufacturing System. The Manufacturing Challenge was held April 5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center during SME’s AeroDef Manufacturing Exposition and Conference, April 5–7 in Los Angeles. The contest is a creative collegiate manufacturing competition where student club members choose their own manufacturing project. Any type of engineering principle, concept, or process may be applied in the design and manufacture of the project entry. Conventional or automated manufacturing processes, robots, vision systems, programmable controllers, computers, material handling systems, or any other manufacturing process may be used individually or in any combination. Other winners included: California State University, Los Angeles (first place for Golden Eagle Pinball); California State University, Northridge (second place for Truck Bed Box Extender); and California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo (third place for Vulcan Anti-Speed-Wobble Trucks). The 2012 Manufacturing Challenge Contest will be held at WESTEC 2012, March 27–29, 2012, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. Visit to learn more.California State University, Chico student team presenting their project to the 2011 Manufacturing Challenge Contest judges in Anaheim, CA, on April 5.  CSU, Chico won the contest's Grand Prize, University Division for their mountain bike chain guide/bash guard manufacturing system.


SME Leadership Series


Open to SME members and nonmembers, the SME Leadership Series will benefit anyone who is in a role or preparing to take on a role where his/her leadership style and communication skills directly impact organizational and personal success. This event is also of value to anyone responsible for putting together a business plan and/or is interested in enabling his/her business to stay ahead of the competition. The SME Leadership Series will be coming to Natick, MA, on September 16–17 and Dallas on October 14–15. To register, visit


Bennett Appointed Leader
of SME Center of Education

Ronald J. Bennett, PhD, founding dean of the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, was recently appointed by SME President Paul Bradley as the leader of the SME Center for Education. The Center for Education plays a critical role in implementing the recommendations of the Role of SME in Higher Education Task Force, which was formed in 2009. Its overarching goal is to make SME as successful as it can possibly be in advancing manufacturing and education on many fronts. Bennett has been chair of the University of St. Thomas’ undergraduate engineering department since 1993 and director of its graduate program since 1995. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; an MS degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Minnesota; an MBA from the University of St. Thomas; and a PhD in metallurgy from the University of Minnesota. Bennett has been an SME member since 1993 and is an advisor for SME’s Manufacturing Education & Research Community.


Give a Grad a Gift

SME's Student Member Bridge Program provides senior, regular, and associate members an opportunity to give a "grad gift," which upgrades graduating student members into the senior levels of SME membership. Because SME helps to make engineers, companies, and future professionals successful in their manufacturing careers, it is essential to our future and the future of manufacturing that student members transition to the professional grades of membership after they graduate. You can help with this transition. Contribute to the program by making an open donation—specify a particular student member to receive a grad gift or a student chapter from which a student belongs to be selected for a gift. Your non-tax-deductible grad gift contribution ($45 per graduating student member) will:


  • Provide SME resources for recent graduates to upgrade their memberships into neighboring senior chapters,
  • Help introduce new professionals to resources and technical information needed in today's lean manufacturing workforce, and
  • Retain active young members and support the strength of your local chapter, while demonstrating your commitment to the future of your Society.


To contribute, go to Your much-needed contribution will make a positive impact on SME student member retention and the professional development of our future manufacturing workforce.


Cecil SchneiderSME Past President Honored

Cecil Schneider, FSME, PE, was recently honored with the SME Education Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He was recognized for his contributions to the advancement of manufacturing education. Schneider retired in 2001 after 37 years with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, where he was director of engineering and new business. Previously, he managed the Advanced Structures and Materials Division. Schneider now has his own consulting firm, CEC Technologies PC, which deals in advanced materials and manufacturing process applications and marketing, and is president of Blue Skies Holdings, LLC. He is a past board member and a director emeritus of the SME Education Foundation, and serves on the Foundation’s scholarship committee. Schneider served as a board member for Project Lead the Way® from 2001–09. He has been an SME member since 1985, became an SME Fellow in 1996, and served as SME President in 1999. Schneider received his award at SME’s International Awards Gala, held on June 6 in Bellevue, WA.



Award Nominations Sought

SME is seeking nominations for the 2012 International Honor Awards. The seven awards recognize significant contributions to the field of manufacturing engineering in the areas of manufacturing technologies, processes, technical writing, education, research, management, and service to the Society. Recipients of the SME International Honor Awards are honored each year at the International Awards Gala, which is held in conjunction with the Society's Annual Conference. Nominations are due August 1. To submit a nomination, visit

This article was first published in the June 2011 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 6/1/2011

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