Making connections in Torino

Edward P. Salek, CAE, Executive Director | TLT Headquarters Report November 2013

The fifth WTC emphasizes links between science, technology and practical applications.

STLE’s strategic plan emphasizes professional education, international cooperation and greater outreach to technology users, all themes of the WTC.

THE NORTHERN ITALIAN CITY OF TURIN (TORINO) was the focus of the tribology world for a week in early September, when nearly 1,300 individuals gathered there for the Fifth World Tribology Congress (WTC). STLE President Rob Heverly’s column does an excellent job reporting on the details of the congress and on STLE’s role as a supporter and participant in this global event hosted by the Italian Tribology Association (IAT).

Because Turin is an important business and technology hub, the participants were welcomed at the conference’s opening ceremonies by a series of distinguished individuals with ties to the city and its leading industries. Some of what they had to say inspired listeners by providing a greater sense of the benefits to be gained when we connect science and technology with practical applications. Three of the speakers’ remarks are noteworthy in that they presented both a more specific challenge and an opportunity to STLE and its members.

Alan Begg, senior vice president for SKF Group Technology Development, noted in his remarks that while the company is recognized as a global supplier of bearings, it is more fundamentally in the knowledge business. He emphasized that SKF relies on the specialized skills of its workforce to create quality products and to educate customers on how to use those products in the most productive manner.

Aldo Marangoni, head of EMEA Region Powertrain Engineering, FIAT-Chrysler Group, followed by sharing his thoughts on the path to optimization of current automotive. He stressed that tribology offers some simple and practical solutions to auto industry challenges such as energy conservation and emissions control. Marangoni also predicted that there needs to be closer ties and more collaboration between industry and university research in order to meet these and other future challenges.

The third speaker, Paolo Giubellino, an experimental physicist at CERN-Geneva, discussed how and why science and technology today is being bolstered through global cooperation and knowledge sharing. He noted that the work at CERN laboratories, which is part of the European organization for nuclear research, relies on shared resources and brainpower from 1,300 scientists in 138 institutions from 36 countries.

These observations about knowledge sharing, applied technology and international cooperation confirmed for me the relevance of goals stated in STLE’s newly established strategic plan. This organizational roadmap, which covers the period 2013-2016, is built around broad strategic initiatives related to growing the STLE community, increasing conference attendance, improving the expertise of technical professionals and becoming a global advocate for tribology and lubrication engineering.

Many of the more specific projects underway are directly linked to the themes emphasized in the Turin conference, especially continuing professional education, international cooperation and outreach to the larger audience of technology users. Watch for more in these areas in the near future, as we begin to implement the plan and to fulfill our value proposition: Connect, Learn, Achieve—STLE improves your ability to compete in the global business environment.

You can reach Certified Association Executive Ed Salek at