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The Value of SME’s AeroDef Event

Dan Braley
By Dan Braley Additive Manufacturing Technical Focal – St. Louis USN / USMC Air Vehicle Technical Integrator – F/A-18 SEIT, Boeing Global Services, St. Louis, SME Member Since 2015

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. AeroDef has clearly persevered, increased in size and become more organized over time. Leadership, both through industry involvement and from SME, has strengthened and priorities have been focused.

The conference tracks are tailored to what industry is really interested in from an advanced manufacturing perspective, and it is no longer a given that if you submit an abstract, you will be able to present at AeroDef. Composites, robotics, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and related high-technology engineering topics have all been flowing into AeroDef, and attendance has skyrocketed.

When I look at the quality of the additive manufacturing presentations that are coming to AeroDef, I would honestly put them up against the best of the other well-known additive manufacturing conferences (RAPID + TCT and AMUG included). To me, what AeroDef has to offer that other conferences often lack is a direct relationship of the presentations and sessions to real-world applications and problems.

I personally took on the role as an additive manufacturing technical advisor to SME and the AeroDef Conference beginning in 2017, and I also serve as an additive manufacturing track and sessions chair. I am truly proud to be a part of the talented team that makes up the conference leadership, and I honestly attribute much of the success and growth of the conference to the extraordinary team that SME has assembled to manage the program.

In 2018, SME awarded me the Marcus B. Crotts Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award for my leadership and advancement of additive manufacturing and advanced composites/electromagnetic materials. This was a high point in my career, as it represented an international recognition of my hard work from an organization like SME that is widely recognized and respected among the aerospace industry, and, of course, my peers.

To simply be nominated by Collin Jager, founder and president of Aerofied, was an honor; to be selected as an award recipient, however, has really given me an appreciation of the value and power of networking at AeroDef. This event is where you can expect to meet and network with your peers about the problems you are experiencing and where you can find solutions to most problems by expanding your mind and wandering the exhibition hall floor.

When I look at the trends in additive manufacturing, made evident through AeroDef presentations and submitted abstracts, I see:

  1. An increasing level of interest in tying the digital thread to design for additive manufacturing.
  2. A focus on hybrid and multifunctional processes, showing an interest in more capable additive manufacturing machines and a real push toward consolidation of resources to meet customer needs.
  3. A decline in polymer additive manufacturing and a greater interest and industry-wide focus on metallic and polymer/composite additive manufacturing for more functional and structural additive manufacturing solutions.
  4. A greater interest and level of adoption in advanced model-based engineering (MBE) tools such as topology optimization software due to advancements in the ability to characterize and analyze additive manufacturing design solutions.
  5. A lot of small companies that entered the additive manufacturing boom are now approaching the “trough of disillusionment,” where they are trying to prove their technologies are viable, innovative and worthy of adoption by larger companies and major programs.

These trends show me the future is bright for additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Additive manufacturing is, for the most part, moving out of the R&D stages and into the implementation and adoption stages. This is an extremely exciting time for those of us involved in additive manufacturing who have devoted so much of our careers to advancing the technologies to where they are today.

I can honestly say that SME and its AeroDef event have been major contributors to bringing the capabilities and shortfalls of additive manufacturing to light within the aerospace industry, and without some of the valuable information we have shared with one another over the years the technology would not be where it is today. Thank you, SME and AeroDef! Continue to push the limits of technology!

I look forward to seeing you at AeroDef, April 29-May 2 in Long Beach. For more information on the event and to register, visit

SME Connect Offers Exclusivity, Credibility and Member Recognition

SME Connect, the exclusive and credible members-only networking and collaboration site, gives SME members an opportunity to share and gain industry insights. Engagement can take place with practitioners, business leaders, researchers and students from around the world.

Five highlights of the site:

  • Searchable Member Directory—Members can locate their peers by name, company, location or job title.
  • Discussions—Ask manufacturing-related questions, seek career advice, offer a solution or just discuss what is happening in manufacturing.
  • Exclusive, Members-Only Content—From technical webinars to conference session recordings to sneak-peek editorials from Manufacturing Engineering magazine, the content continues to grow.
  • Local Chapters—See what’s happening across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Upcoming Events—View a complete list of chapter, special meetups, upcoming webinars, and industry-specific events as well as SME Virtual Network offerings.

In February, SME recognized three highly engaged members for their overall efforts and participation on SME Connect:

  1. Adam Cook, Chief Technical Officer, Alliedstrand, Dallas
  2. Garrett Derr Sr., Quality Engineer, USSC Group Inc., Exton, Pa.
  3. Joshua Engel, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Coltene Whaledent, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Cook, Derr and Engel each received a letter of recognition from 2019 SME Member Council Chair Edye Buchanan, CMfgT; certificates of appreciation; and vouchers to redeem logo items of their choosing in the SME store. In addition, as the top contributor, Adam Cook received the first-ever VIP badge, which was added to his member profile on SME Connect.

To be recognized and win prizes, SME members are encouraged to log in to SME Connect (, post discussion questions, respond to posts, upload a profile photo, add a complete bio and connect with other members. New winners will be announced later this year.

Congrats to Our Los Angeles Chapter Officers!

SME’s South LA/Orange County Chapter 233 and East Los Angeles College S379 came together to hold their annual chapter officers installation ceremony.

Two of SME’s Los Angeles-area chapters (South LA/Orange County Chapter 233 and East Los Angeles College S379, a student chapter, which is sponsored by Chapter 233) recently came together to hold their annual chapter officers installation ceremony.

The main roles and responsibilities for a chapter officer include:

  • Chair
  • Chair-Elect
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Bulletin Editor

Chapter officers begin their annual terms on January 1. At the beginning of each term, each officer takes an oath of office. Whether an individual is serving at the professional and/or at the student level, this is a great way to develop and/or continue developing leadership skills. SME chapters are always looking for volunteers to assist with their efforts.

If anyone is interested in becoming more involved in an SME chapter, please email or visit the chapter landing page at

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