Another milestone just ahead

Dr. Robert M. Gresham, Contributing Editor | TLT Lubrication Fundamentals October 2018

Guess which international tribology society is inching up on 75 years of technical excellence?

Through 75 years STLE has served the engineering community concerned with friction, lubrication and wear.
© Can Stock Photo / Shutterbas

Happy birthday! Well, not quite. But beginning with our 2019 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., STLE is initiating a growing celebration of our 75th birthday. This celebration will culminate in 2020 at, where else, the 75th Annual Meeting in the Windy City of Chicago, home to our STLE headquarters. It’s hard to believe we have been around so long.

STLE has formed a planning committee, and we are fortunate that Past President Dave Scheetz is serving as the chair. As usual Dave has hit the ground running by assembling a top team to help plan the celebration. Dave’s team includes individuals not just from the Chicago area but from as far as Europe and Asia. I believe Dave will hold his first face-to-face meeting with the group at STLE’s Tribology Frontiers Conference this month in Chicago. I look forward to seeing some of you then. 

In Nashville we’ll hold a kickoff event so everyone is aware of the upcoming milestone. From there you can expect a continuous crescendo of activities and information about the society, beginning with its foundation and highlighting significant events and technical achievements. The timeline will depict the growth and evolution of STLE from a localized, U.S.-based group to what it is today—a broad-based, international organization with a nearly unmatched reputation for technical excellence. 

For example, when I joined the Society in 1981, our annual meetings consisted of only technical sessions that were very good at the time (they continue to be the centerpiece of the meeting). There was a bus tour for spouses that usually visited some tourist attraction in the city of the meeting. Companies hosted after-hour hospitality suites that provided alternative entertainment. That was pretty much it.

There was no trade show, no Commercial Marketing Forum, no certification program, no golf outing, no Website (Internet hadn’t been invented), no real international participation except from the academic communities. Publishing was mostly limited to a reduced version of Tribology Transactions, and a far more plebian Lubrication Engineering magazine, the predecessor of TLT. The budget was less than a third of today’s; attendance was much less as well. Even so, STLE was an organization of significance to the engineering community concerned with friction, lubrication and wear.

If you want to participate in the planning and execution of the diamond celebration, just contact Dave at or me at the address below (email didn’t exist when I joined either). In addition to the buildup to the 2020 Annual Meeting, Dave’s committee is planning some unusual activities to commemorate the coming milestone.

So much to look forward to!
Bob Gresham is STLE’s director of professional development. You can reach him at