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Presidents Message - January 2012

By Mike Dugger

In praise of service

By participating on an STLE committee, you'll help the society - and your career - grow.  

Many groups contribute to the success of a technical society like STLE. These groups include individual and corporate members, exhibitors and presenters at our Annual Meeting and other conferences, people who participate in education courses and our certification programs and, of course, our headquarters staff. All of these people help fulfill the society’s mission, “To advance the science of tribology and the practice of lubrication engineering in order to foster innovation, improve the performance of equipment and products, conserve resources and protect the environment.”

One subset of these people represents the engine behind progress in our society, and that is the members who volunteer to serve on our various committees. With the new year ahead and many people developing New Year’s resolutions, I would like to acknowledge the important contributions of our existing volunteers and encourage other members to get involved.

STLE cannot function without volunteers. Our headquarters staff does a terrific job supporting the various activities of the society, but it is the volunteers who decide how the organization will be governed and also govern it. Whether it is making major policy decisions, developing a conference program, electing Fellows or giving awards, all of these jobs and more are done by volunteers.

What happens to a member of an organization to transform him or her into a volunteer? I suspect that in most cases, volunteers get involved with STLE because a colleague asked them to help with a committee project. After devoting significant time and creative energy to an organization, we become emotionally vested in its success. This works great for STLE, since volunteers who feel a sense of satisfaction in what they have done for the society become its biggest proponents.

Volunteers also receive from the society as much or more than they give. I met many of my closest professional colleagues by serving on committees with them. There is no denying that the largest tribology conference in the world, the STLE Annual Meeting & Exhibition, is a great way to meet other professionals, catch up with old friends and discover prospective suppliers and customers. But serving on a committee gives people a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment. I also have found that serving on committees enabled me to meet people that I would not have met during my normal business activities. One of our greatest assets is our professional network, and committee service is a great way to build or expand yours.

Kara Lemar on our headquarters staff has been working with other staff and volunteers to make committee service more effective and rewarding than ever. This project already has begun with two Webinars titled “Keys to Leading Productive Committees,” which, by the way, are available for free by visiting www.stle.org. More content of this type is planned in the coming months to help potential volunteers understand various committee assignments and get the most out of a rewarding experience.

Please consider getting involved or taking on a new assignment on an STLE committee. Not only will you be doing an important service for the society, your career will benefit as well.

Contact me, any of our board members or our headquarters staff to find out what types of assignments match your interests. We are always looking for motivated volunteers, and, who knows, you might find yourself writing this column one day!


Mike Dugger is a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. You can reach him at mtdugge@sandia.gov

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