Home > Presidents Message February 2009
Presidents Message February 2009

Robert W. Bruce

Section meetings that work

STLE has resources that can help you create a successful event

STLE’s Local Sections are struggling and not just in the past couple of months. Attendance is only a fraction of the local membership and continues to drop.

The main reason for attending used to be networking and sales/customer contact. Much of that now takes place via the Internet. So increasingly the reason for attending is the topic and the speaker. Just like the main reason given for attending the STLE Annual Meeting, technical content is what attracts an audience.

Section meetings with the best attendance numbers are often the education seminars organized to attract members and non-members alike. Salespeople help make presentations and are looking for new customers. Attendees get the educational value without having to travel out of town, or else they travel to a nearby town. Organizing the education seminar takes a lot of work but usually results in the signing of new members and an income boost for the section.

Plant tours tend to attract a large number of attendees. If widely publicized and open to non-members, these too can be money makers. Not all tours have to be focused on tribology issues to be of educational value and general interest. I have enjoyed terrific tours to automobile manufacturing, car bulletproofing, propeller manufacturing facilities and even the control tower of a local airport, learning something on every visit. Sometimes the facilitator has prepared to highlight tribological insights during a tour normally aimed at the general public, making the tour extra special.

But there are only so many education and tour opportunities, and then you are back to the technical presentation and the need for topics and speakers. To that end we are generating a listing of topics and speakers that will be posted on the STLE Web site in March. The list can be searched by topic, speaker, home location of the speaker, etc.

If you are interested in being included in the list, please contact Myrna Scott at STLE Headquarters at

Already available on the Web site is a Local Section Leadership Handbook that provides materials for the successful conduction of local section meetings. This electronic handbook contains many of the most effective procedures shared by the most successful sections.

Another way to boost attendance is to broadcast meeting details to local sections of other professional societies with whom we share members, such as: ACS, AEMP, AICE, AIST, ASM International, ASME, ASTM, AVS, AWES, AWS, AWT, ELGI, FOC, ILMA, NADDRG, NLGI, OCCO, PMF, SAE, SME, SMRP, SOR, TAPPI and TOSCA. These societies cover chemistry, equipment, maintenance, materials, engineering, testing, coatings, wind energy, welding, water, grease, paint, lubricants, deep drawing, oil color chemistry, metal-forming, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, maintenance & reliability, rheology, paper and education. Their members may want to attend our meeting if the topic is meaningful to them.

I would like to thank local section executives for their efforts to present our members with an attractive program.  I also urge members to check out the planned local section meetings on STLE’s Web site.

Bob Bruce is principal engineer, tribology, at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati. You can reach him at president@stle.org

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