It’s not often you get the opportunity to witness rapid, life-impacting change, but for those of us who have been in the 3D printing industry over the last few decades, we have witnessed just that. In the last 20-plus years, 3D printing has changed the definition of manufacturing from merely “one-size-fits-all” to “customized” production and from “high-volume” to “high-complexity/low-volume”—a startling paradigm shift that has enabled many new applications for the manufacturing industry.
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It seems like it was yesterday, but the reality is that it has been almost 25 years since I first became an SME student member. Yes, the face of manufacturing has changed quite a bit since then, including SME’s name. In line with those changes, the level of the service, opportunity and impact of SME has grown quite a bit too.
The power of any nation owes much to her manufacturing prowess. Our living standard owes much to the ingenuity of humanity. For example, welding was, is and will be an intimate partner in the history of manufacturing.
The growing skills gap is causing trepidation among manufacturers and the lack of millennials building careers within the industry is part of the concern.
We sat down recently with SME Fellow Douglas Decker, an internationally known expert in the field of advanced composites fabrication and assembly, to discuss his background and innovative approaches on several critical military programs.
My involvement in SME and its AeroDef event began in 2014, when I first presented an Adaptive Machining Overview at AeroDef 2014 in Long Beach, Calif. At the time, the conference was relatively small in terms of attendees and exhibitors in comparison to the explosion of other engineering conferences that began around that time.
My first participation in SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC) was in 1994 at NAMRC-XXII, hosted by Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). I presented my work, “Development of a New Type of Magnetic Finishing Tool for Internal Finishing of Tubes Using Rotating Magnetic Field,” in the Machining Innovation 1 session at 10:30 a.m. on May 25, 1994.
Today, I am a mechanical engineering student who dreams of working in the aerospace industry. Today, I know where my passion lies, where my future may take me and the kinds of problems I may be solving.
When I was growing up, my family owned a small machine shop in the Chicagoland area. My grandparents all immigrated to the US from a war-torn Europe in the early 1920s with the hope of a new life based on the American dream. Both of my grandfathers were machinists, and my father was an engineer and a member of SME’s Chicago Chapter 5, joining the American Society of Tool and Manufacturing Engineers in 1964—the year I was born.
Every journey into manufacturing is different. Mine started more than 30 years ago and has taken many paths; these collective experiences led me down the path that allowed me to become SME’s 88th president.