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Roles & Responsibilities: Student Chapter Faculty Advisor

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Job Description

As a SME student chapter faculty advisor, you have been called on to contribute significantly to the success and continuity of a SME student chapter. Consulting with student officers and acting as a liaison between the student chapter, SME Headquarters and at least one local SME senior chapter, faculty advisors offer advice on student chapter matters to student officers and work to provide continuity in chapter policies and procedures from year to year, as chapter leadership changes. It is an important job, and SME is grateful for the time you dedicate to its undertaking.


  • Aid in training new student officers as they are elected.
  • Help student chapter leaders understand their roles and responsibilities by explaining the resources available through SME's Senior Chapter Management Guides, all easily adaptable to student chapter situations.
  • Assist student officers in creating programs of value to student members (technical meetings, forums, plant tours, etc.).
  • Serve as a nonvoting member of all elected and/or appointed committees.
  • Support SME and the student chapter by promoting chapter membership and actively engaging in recruitment and retention activities.
  • Help student chapter officers meet their chapter reporting requirements as defined in the SME Governance Document.
  • Partner with local SME senior chapters to deliver cooperative programs that help build enthusiasm for SME membership — both student and senior.
  • Encourage student members to "bridge" to associate membership following graduation.
  • Nominate chapter and its members for the appropriate SME recognition and scholarships.
  • Encourage chapter members to participate in SME opportunities designed especially for students.
  • Work closely with locally assigned SME Membership Consultant.
  • Take on additional responsibilities as outlined in the SME Governance Document

Getting the Job Done: Tips & Details

Quick Tips

  • Become familiar with each of the chapter officers' roles and their responsibilities, as listed here and as described in the Chapter Management Guide. While those descriptions were written specifically for senior chapters, they are easily adapted to student chapters' needs.
  • Familiarize yourself with the SME Governance Document; it describes chapter policies and procedures in detail.
  • Visit the Volunteer Leaders Toolkit, where you'll find helpful tools and "must-know" information.
  • Call your chapter's SME Membership Consultant whenever you need additional assistance or further information. If you do not know who your membership consultant is or how to reach him/her, call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763, 313.425.3000 or

Important Documents & Deadlines: What's Due When

Name Purpose Annual Due Date
Student Chapter Officer Report To assist you in proactive communications, this document lists all current officers and their contact information. Oct. 31
Student Chapter Financial Report Completed by the chapter treasurer, this report includes all chapter assets and liabilities. SME Headquarters needs this report so it can file a joint tax return in April of each year and avoid an IRS audit. Jan. 31
Student Chapter Planning & Assessment Guide This guide is designed to assist chapter leaders in the effective planning and assessment of their chapters' effectiveness as it relates to meeting members' needs. It includes suggestions for beneficial activities. April 15

Ready, Set, Go! Starting a Student Chapter

At least 10 students and one faculty advisor, all of whom are SME members or are applying for membership, can apply to become an official SME chapter by completing and submitting the Student Chapter Formation Guide . During the initial six months in operation as a student unit, the student chapter must:

  • Elect officers.
  • Hold meetings on a regular basis.
  • Increase membership to a minimum of 10 members.

If, after six months, they have been successful, 10 student members may request an SME Student Chapter Charter Application. SME charters only one student chapter per campus after review and approval of the petition by the SME Member Council.

All necessary forms are available through the Volunteer Leader Toolkit. See the "Student Chapter Starter Kit" for more information. To order a kit, contact SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 (U.S. only), 313.425.3000 or

Chapter Funding: How to Get It

SME chapters have a number of funding sources from attendance fees at their events to fundraising activities to supplemental per-member funding from SME Headquarters.

SME Headquarters supplements chapter income by issuing funding authorization (check or wire transfers) to each chapter faculty advisor yearly. Payments are described in Section 4.2 of the SME Governance document .

Funding from SME Headquarters is contingent upon the student chapter's fulfillment of the following requirements:

  • Student Chapter Officer Report must be submitted by Oct. 31.
  • Student Chapter Planning & Assessment Guide must be submitted by April 15.
  • Annual Student Chapter Financial Report must be submitted by Jan. 31.
  • The chapter must maintain a minimum membership of 10.

Student chapters not meeting these requirements will have their funding withheld until these obligations are met. When all is in place, funds will be released to the student chapter in accordance with the next funding release cycle. Withheld funds are forfeited after one year.

Special Note — If a chapter falls below this minimum membership requirement after their initial fall recruitment, the faculty advisor should complete a Student Chapter Membership Leniency Request . This must be signed by the responsible SME Membership Consultant and submitted to SME Member Services by Nov. 15. 

Day-to-Day Activities: What a Student Chapter Does

SME student chapters should provide members with:

  • The latest technical information.
  • An awareness of how real-world applications relate to academic environments and learning.
  • An opportunity to meet and speak with practicing engineers.
  • A desire for continued professional/technical society affiliation.
  • A favorable image of manufacturing and related careers.
  • A competitive edge over students who have not selected SME student membership as an option.
  • Guidance on how to access all of the manufacturing knowledge and career resources available through their membership.

Accomplishing these things will require thoughtful planning and collaboration with an SME senior chapter and with SME Headquarters. Regular chapter meetings, joint senior-student chapter meetings, plant tours and chapter communications are your means to these ends. Refer to the SME Chapter Management Guide for tips.

Working with a Sponsoring Senior Chapter

A sponsoring senior chapter can provide you with guidance and counsel in the early stages of applying for a student chapter charter. Continued relationships with the sponsoring chapter can also help make for easy planning of successful joint events.

Get your "Student Chapter Starter Kit" from SME Headquarters by calling SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763 or email The kit contains information on establishing your student chapter and will take you through the process, including how to work with the sponsoring chapter's student chapter liaison — a member not affiliated with the educational institution who is appointed by the senior chapter chair.

Recruiting New Members: Know Why Students Join

Undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in a technology-related curriculum, and carrying at least six credit hours per term, qualify for SME student chapter membership. Qualification, however, is not enough to get them involved; you and your chapter officers must work diligently to recruit qualified students, thereby ensuring the success and longevity of your chapter.

To conduct a thorough recruitment program, take the reasons students join technical organizations to heart:

  • They want to get a better job after graduation.
  • They seek access to more research/knowledge resources.
  • They want to meet practicing engineers and make valuable professional network connections.
  • They want to earn scholarships and other cash awards.
  • They seek opportunities to develop and demonstrate leadership skills.
  • Membership provides an affordable value.

Sell those features on the first contact, emphasizing the one reason most important to the potential member. The following list gives examples of how a recruiter can relate the individual's interests to SME membership features.

If the students want to know more about industry, tell them about:

If the students want a summer, or permanent job, tell them about:

If the students are interested in doing well academically, tell them about:

  • Scholarships
  • Contests
  • How SME can help them keep up with new technology through tours, programs and technical publications.
  • How SME's many manufacturing knowledge resources can make a difference.
  • How SME's Librarian can help find statistical and other pertinent data.

If the students want to become involved in social groups, tell them about:

  • Chapter-specific social activities.
  • Chapter's involvement with campus activities and other like-minded student societies.

If the students want to develop management/leadership skills, tell them about the many opportunities to try their skills and how taking any of these roles will help them develop and enhance their speaking, motivational, organizational, budgeting, team building and planning skills:

  • Chapter officer positions.
  • Specific chapter event management.
  • Management of specific chapter functions (i.e., recruitment, retention, public relations, etc.).
  • Student relations subcommittee leadership.
  • Lifelong leadership opportunities through SME membership, upon graduation.

Setting Goals: Guiding the Future

By developing long-term and short-term goals for your chapter, you are guiding the future by identifying an overall direction and the means of achieving it. Establish your goals and objectives at the beginning of the year to ensure chapter officers know the direction in which they should go.

Consider the following points:

  • What do you want the chapter to accomplish?
  • What do the members expect out of membership?
  • What was or was not — successful in previous years?
  • What types of programs/activities would be appropriate?
  • What are your priorities?

Once you have identified the chapter goals, it is up to the student chapter officers to implement an action plan that can achieve those goals. Each officer can delegate tasks to individuals or teams. Members will be willing to help if they clearly understand the task and the extent of the commitment. If you need help or ideas, be sure to contact your membership consultant.

Turnover: Ensuring Effective Transitions

Think of each annual transition from one set of officers to another as an exercise in communications. Information on policies, procedures, activities, challenges and opportunities must be communicated to new officers as quickly as possible. For a smooth transition:

  • Inform all candidates of their future duties before the election.
  • Hold elections early so they do not overlap with finals.
  • Have new officers participate in end-of-year executive meetings.
  • Have new officers help conduct end-of-year general meetings.
  • Ask the outgoing chair to note the activities in progress as well as problem areas in the semi-annual report.
  • Promptly hold a meeting with outgoing and incoming officers so that they can exchange and review all records and material, and address any issues (like ongoing challenges, imminent opportunities, etc.).

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