Spreading our brand globally
STLE continues to expand its programs worldwide, with education and certification leading the way.
STLE has been busy these past few years working with technical societies and entities around the world to grow relationships to promote our vision: To be a leader in the global network of individuals, institutions, societies and corporate entities with a common interest in advancing the science of tribology and the practice of lubrication engineering.
The key word here is global.
While STLE is a North American leader in the arena of technical societies representing tribology and lubrication engineering, our global activities have been somewhat limited. We are proud to have been associated with the World Tribology Congress and, in fact, hosted the event in 2005 in Washington D.C. We also have participated in several events with the Chinese Tribology Institute and the South African Institute of Tribology.
Our annual meetings attract a worldwide audience. The technical sessions and education courses are invaluable, as are the networking opportunities and certification exams we offer: CLS, OMA (I&II) and CMFS.
While we have expanded our online educational offerings with the creation of STLE University, there still is no substitute for face-to-face events. Our certification programs are highly valued here in North America, and we are working on increasing their recognition abroad.
For example, we started a relationship with the Tribology Society of India last year that continued in 2011 when STLE’s director of professional development Bob Gresham, TLT columnist Mike Johnson and member Dr. Fred Passman presented a three-day education event in Delhi, India. There are talks of scheduling another event next year and the possibility of adding certificate exams, as well. This is another great example of STLE’s efforts to expand its brand awareness globally.
The European community is another area where we are looking to become more active. STLE has more than 100 members in Europe, although we have not (yet) held an event there. We have spoken with several key European members about the possibility of changing the name of our Brussels Section, created in 1995, to the European Section to help lead us in that direction.
In February STLE participated in the first annual OilDoc conference in Rosenheim, Germany, a premier event that attracted some 400 tribologists and lubrication engineers from around the world for three days of technical presentations and an exhibition. STLE’s booth was manned by me, STLE Executive Director Ed Salek and Bob Gresham.
Bob also presented an overview of STLE and our certification programs. While the concept of certification in Europe is relatively new, its value is certainly recognized by U.S. companies doing business there. OilDoc was a great place to spread the word because it draws a crowd that is interested in the practice of lubrication engineering. By contrast, the successful Esslingen conference, held every other year also in Germany, tends to attract a more academic audience.
While spreading the word on STLE certification programs is part of the challenge, the other part that must be done is the “internationalization” of the exam itself.
Currently exam questions are geared toward the North American market. For these programs to expand worldwide, the exam questions must be revised and geared toward the global market. For example, referenced ASTM standards must be tied to other standards such as DIN or ISO. Practices common in North America may not be so in other countries.
Also, currently the exam is only offered in English. Europeans prefer to take the exam in their own languages. STLE’s Certification Committee is working on ways to address these concerns.
While there are certainly some challenges we’ll face along the way, these are great opportunities for STLE to expand our brand awareness globally.
Peter Drechsler is a senior tribology specialist with The Timken Co. in Canton, Ohio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.