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Presidents Message November 2008
Robert W. Bruce
 
STLE’s evolving education strategy          
 
We’ve moved from 33-mm slides to laptops with memory sticks, but our technical content remains as relevant as ever.
 
M
any years ago I was asked to teach the subject of Fundamentals of Lubrication as part of the Basic Lubrication Course at STLE annual meetings. This was back in the days when the society’s name was the American Society of Lubrication Engineers, and we used 35-mm slide projectors.

The first time was kind of scary, speaking alone in front of 75 to 100 people who get to judge you afterward.  But the second time was a lot easier, and it became a fun thing to do afterward because of the audience’s appreciation and also because it was an opportunity to relate my work of the day to the basic principles of tribology.

I thought my research job was unique in that respect until I met a gentleman who told me he had taken the Basic Lubrication Course three times and learned something new and useful each time. Then ASLE became STLE, and I revised the lecture to Fundamentals of Tribology.

By the time we went to overhead projectors and transparencies it was time to pass the baton to someone else. While we now use laptop computers and memory sticks, the Basic Lubrication Course remains as popular as ever and with good reason—STLE education courses are taught by the world’s leading experts on the practice of lubrication engineering.
           
STLE’s education program has continued evolving and now goes beyond the annual meeting. STLE has collaborated with other organizations in North America and overseas to create our current lineup of education sessions.

Today we are planning Webinars, real-time Internet-based lectures that also are recorded so they can be viewed anytime anywhere in the world. The education program presented during our annual meeting continues because interaction with the audience provides valuable feedback that helps keep content current. Besides, part of good teaching involves addressing issues and questions from the audience instantaneously.
           
Meanwhile, STLE’s national headquarters continues to support education programs organized by our local sections. Those education programs are generally better attended than the other local section meetings and provide the groups with an additional source of income and new members. Local education courses can be organized to suit the interests of members in a particular geography or technical field, and the face-to-face interaction with presenters cannot be matched by Webinars.
           
So STLE’s three-pronged education strategy features sessions at annual meetings, local sections and on the society’s Web site. This should satisfy the increasing demand for education at all levels and provide more suitable coverage of niche areas that do not draw large audiences on a regular basis. Webinars, in particular, are a handy tool for addressing niche areas that currently receive spotty coverage but are of long-term interest.

If you have thoughts about how we can improve STLE’s education strategy, I would like to hear from you. Please send me your comments at president@stle.org.

I appreciate your input. Education is key to achieving STLE’s mission of advancing the science of tribology and best practices in lubrication engineering.
 
Bob Bruce is principal engineer, tribology, at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati.                            
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