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Presidents Message July 2009

David K. Scheetz

Orlando’s picturesque success story

STLE has its own youth movement in place, the result of deliberate research and planning by your board.

The photos from STLE’s Annual Meeting that appear in the July issue of TLT tell many stories about our organization.  But there’s one story in particular that I’d like you to focus on this month.

Notice that many of the scenes from Orlando include participants in the early stages of their professional careers.  It’s an encouraging sign, because one of STLE’s objectives is to encourage participation by students and younger professionals. 

Speaking as a mid-career professional, I can assure you that there’s nothing wrong with the fact that those photos also include industry veterans.  But my point is that STLE, like all good organizations, has its eyes on future leadership and participation, both in terms of technical contributions and volunteer service.

This has not happened by chance.  It’s been a strategic business decision sparked by a board discussion in January 2007 and supported by information gathered at student focus groups conducted by STLE staff and volunteers at conferences later that year and in 2008. 

Our board responded to a number of the focus group ideas with both financial and programmatic support.  Two of the most successful initiatives are a student poster session and a program that supports student travel to both the annual meeting and the ASME-STLE International Joint Tribology Conference.  Under a matching funds program, STLE and its local sections distribute a combined total of more than $20,000 annually to students.  Organizing efforts have even gone international, resulting in the creation of an STLE Caribbean student section, which, incidentally, sent two students to compete in the 2009 poster competition in Orlando.

The results of these and other efforts speak for themselves.  There were 64 students at the IJTC last fall, and 79 students attended the 2009 annual meeting—totals substantially larger than in the recent past.  In addition, we are seeing many former student members moving into the profession as full members and taking on expanded roles within the organization.

One example illustrates this trend.  The STLE Chicago Section, which I attend, selected an outstanding Northwestern University doctoral student as its scholarship recipient three years ago.  That student, Dr. Ashlie Martini, now is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.  She is serving on the IJTC conference planning committee and heads STLE’s newly created Young Tribologists Committee, which is providing direction to our existing programs and developing new ideas.

I am certain that Ashlie’s path to STLE involvement is one many others will take. The result is good for STLE and good for the companies and organizations that depend on STLE to help them identify and develop young talent to sustain future business.

Regardless of what stage you are in your career, this is truly a win-win scenario for all of us.

Dave Scheetz, CLS, is an equipment builder engineer for ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties. 
You can reach him at


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