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Diving Into My Manufacturing Education

Greg Kurfess
By Greg Kurfess 2017 SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship Winner, SME member since 2017

For the past year, I have had the incredible opportunity to pursue my passion for manufacturing by studying mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech (Atlanta); I would not be where I am today without the help of the SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship. Because of this scholarship and my interactions with SME, I am flourishing as an engineer, leader and student. Of course, the extra funds have also helped in alleviating the pressure of tuition payments. Although I have only been at Georgia Tech for a year, I am taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible, including leadership roles in my fraternity, STEM courses and an engineering internship this summer.

At every SME event I attend, I hear manufacturing leaders stating that the best way to get people involved in manufacturing is to reach out to them at a young age—I am proof that they are right. During the summers following my sophomore and junior years of high school, I was exposed to manufacturing through my job in Georgia Tech’s machine shop. As I was tasked with designing and fabricating parts using heavy machinery, I gained plenty of experience with hands-on manufacturing. The process of taking a new idea and designing and creating a tangible part amazed me. From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in manufacturing.

While at school, my engagement activities will help me grow as an engineer. For example, I took classes to learn software packages that are critical in manufacturing, such as MATLAB and SolidWorks, as well as classes that have given me a strong foundation for the more advanced engineering classes I will start taking next year such as ME 2110, Creative Decisions and Designs. In ME 2110, I will be creating a functioning autonomous system, and will be given many chances to build on my knowledge and experience from the machine shop. I recognize the importance of teamwork and leadership skills in manufacturing, so I also engaged in activities to help me build up my “soft skills.” I joined the Theta Chi Fraternity and have already taken on leadership roles such as Brotherhood chair and Interfraternity Council representative. I plan on joining the executive committee in the near future.

Gregory Kurfess and his parents, Thomas and Adrianna Kurfess, after he was presented with his scholarship during SME’s 2017 International Awards Gala in Chicago.

Because I appreciate hands-on experiences, and want the chance to apply what I learn in the classroom to real-world situations, I will be interning at Meggit this summer, building and programming combat simulators. I am excited about working with seasoned engineers and getting a taste of the industry. In the future, I plan to complete an internship every summer during college in different facilities, so I can determine my passions within manufacturing rather than simply diving head first into a job after graduation. Based on the opportunities that are available to manufacturing engineering students who have completed their second and third years, I know I will have some very interesting choices in terms of industry sector and location.

Through SME, I have had the privilege of meeting many leaders in manufacturing. The networking opportunities SME provides are incredibly valuable and can potentially play a huge role in connecting students with manufacturing internships and potentially long-term careers. My conversations with other SME members has given me the background information I needed on the many opportunities I otherwise would never have known about.

All my experiences so far have shown me that I made the correct decision to work toward a job in manufacturing engineering. It is a growing field that offers a wide variety of challenges, job opportunities and a very bright future. I hope that with everything I will experience and learn, I can help propel manufacturing to another level that is smarter and more efficient.
From vision to networking to financial aid, SME has provided me with countless opportunities, and I look forward to being part of this great organization for my entire career. Thank you again to SME and its Education Foundation for supporting me in my academic career and advocating so strongly for the industry I love.

Aerospace Expert Named SME Honorary Member

Ronald A. Gill, HSME, CMfgE, aerospace manufacturing consultant, Gill Enterprises (Corona, CA) was recognized as the 2018 SME Honorary Member during SME’s International Awards Gala in Boston on April 29. This award is one of the most prestigious honors presented by SME and is reserved for those exhibiting professional eminence among manufacturing engineers.

As an aerospace fabrication and assembly expert, Gill created a breakthrough technology that enabled portable automation to be utilized in assembly production as a lean and ergonomic model. He has been honored by Boeing (Long Beach, CA) with numerous productivity, quality and lean manufacturing awards. As an SME member since 1992, Gill has chaired and participated on numerous SME committees. He’s also organized, facilitated and conducted several Boeing facility tours for his local chapter; acted as a judge and mentor for various student summits; served as a chapter leader; and is currently serving his second, two-year term on the SME Member Council.

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The SME Education Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the next generation of manufacturing and engineering talent. Working closely with SME, academia, and industry, we build awareness of opportunity and provide solutions to develop, build and strengthen the workforce.