About 30 years ago, I was introduced to the amazing world of manufacturing. The Universal Co., a well-established home appliance manufacturer in Tehran, Iran, had already started to be equipped with advanced mechanisms and robots. There, my new work as a manufacturing engineer/die designer produced a deep, passionate love for manufacturing. Later, this passion seemed less vibrant as I continued my education toward my doctorate to become an experienced researcher. Yet, that initial strong base in manufacturing helped me to create, invent and analyze, and also to teach related courses such as manufacturing processes, manufacturing engineering and advanced manufacturing.
I joined Kennesaw State University (formerly Southern Polytechnic State University; Marietta, Ga.) in 2006 and was asked to become the faculty advisor of its SME student chapter, S016. Reconnecting with the fabulous world of manufacturing was like receiving a prize from my new academic home, the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department. I have served in this capacity since 2006 and work tirelessly to cultivate many students’ interest in manufacturing engineering. Mentoring the officers, active SME members and other students gives me the chance to reconnect them and myself to industry.
Seeing how the manufacturing industry has evolved over the years has been remarkable. Participating in manufacturing expos, exhibitions and also seminars and presentations has been very enjoyable and rewarding. Getting to know very experienced professionals such as Phil Waldrop, PhD, LSME (an SME Member Council representative and Atlanta Chapter 61 liaison/consultant) has been an honor, as was winning the SME Distinguished Faculty Advisor Award in 2012 and 2019.
“Mechanical Engineering academic programs are critical to U.S. economic competitiveness, but the understandably time-constrained coverage of basic and advanced production systems, technologies and design for production must necessarily be complemented by resources beyond the classroom setting,” wrote Dr. Waldrop in an award support letter for me. “For working professionals in the field, as well as students, SME serves as the primary resource for manufacturing knowledge. Applied research is a focus of the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME (NAMRI | SME) as it brings together researchers from leading companies, government laboratories, academic institutions and industrial think tanks from around the world for the advancement of the scientific foundation of discrete-parts end-product manufacturing.”
In this letter, Dr. Waldrop went on to explain how my involvement in an engineering society not only provides important technological insights, it also connects students to the extensive information resources, career insights and motivation for professional growth that are highly valued by potential industry employers.
One of the greatest highlights of this journey was the Italian Technology Award that I received in 2019. I was humbled to receive such a prestigious award, one that is not known by many people in industry and academia. It is a well-organized program full of university and company visits that allows students, researchers and professors to familiarize themselves with the capabilities of high-precision and automated Italian companies.
This program is designed to enrich the engineering education of students and to advance knowledge on various matters within metalworking and glassworking to the next generation of engineering professionals and to facilitate research collaboration between the awardees.
The complimentary trip to Italy in 2019 included visits to Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan; Leonardo 3 Museum, Milan; Casa Milan, Milan; Copernico, Milan; INNSE-BERARDI, Brescia, Italy; PAMA, Rovereto, Italy; and REGG Inspection, Milan. The awards were separated into two categories: Italian Machine Tool Technology and Italian Glass Machinery Technology. In the machine tool technology category, I was able to represent Kennesaw State University and also Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. In addition, I had the opportunity to announce the student winners and their research papers in one of our professional seminars.
I feel indebted to SME, the UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE (Association of Italian Manufacturers of Machine Tools, Robots, Automation Systems and Ancillary Products, Chicago) and the GIMAV (Italian Association of Glass-Processing Machinery and Accessory Suppliers, Milan) for providing me with this opportunity. I have since started to talk about this program on my LinkedIn page, with many students showing interest in traveling to Italy to participate in co-ops and internships and also seeking full-time positions. I am assisting one of our KSU alumni with obtaining a position at one of the companies I visited.
To anyone interested, I encourage you to participate in this program. You can learn more about the Italian Technology Award Programs by visiting machinesitalia.org/italian-technology-awards. Information on the SME Distinguished Faculty Advisor Award and its recipients is available at sme.org/faculty-award.