STLE Extends Global Outreach

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LAS VEGAS – Peter Drechsler, president of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers for 2010-2011, believes STLE can grow membership globally and share more knowledge by offering more activities online and collaborating with similar groups in other countries.

Drechsler is confident STLEs annual conference has become the supreme platform for industry experts and researchers to share knowledge.

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He sees the organizations activities moving online, where they can be shared with anyone worldwide and help expand its membership. STLE has already established an online training center with various course segments such as basic lubrication, gear lubrication or metalworking fluids, discussing various aspects of tribology, he pointed out.

Many people would love to take our annual courses. Now we are able to bring those to them wherever they are in the world, Drechsler told Lube Report in an interview here May 17.

A senior tribology specialist with The Timken Co. in Canton, Ohio, he began his one-year term as STLE president at the groups meeting in Las Vegas in May. Drechsler has held technical positions with AMFs Cuno Division as well as Pratt and Whitney Aircraft. He published several papers and holds two U.S. patents.

Long an active STLE volunteer at both the local and national levels, Drechsler believes connecting people is a goal STLE has pursued since its formation 65 years ago.

Thats what the main mission of the society is: We provide the forum and let people share their thoughts by establishing collaboration. We have a longstanding collaboration with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and recently we connected with the Chinese Tribology Institute [CTI], Drechsler said.

There are many tribology conferences and technical societies around the world, in Europe particularly, where we are trying to expand our brand awareness, but none of them has the focus as STLE, he asserted, noting that STLE is an international group with members throughout the world attending its conference. Fifty percent of the presenters in this years meeting came from abroad.

The societys leadership realizes, however, that many researchers or engineers cannot come to STLE seminars and courses. We attended the CTI conference last year, and we learned that China cares about the environment just as much as the United States or the European Union, and establishing long-term relationship with Chinese tribologists is a great opportunity for us.

STLE has been recognized for training, education and dissemination of knowledge for a long time, Drechsler remarked. We are always looking for a ways to promote tribology training and education. From now on it can be accessible not only to our members but globally, to everyone who is in the industry, being a student or experienced researcher, he said.

According to Drechsler, STLE membership is very stable. When he joined the organization in the 1980s, the organization had about 4,000 members. STLE Executive Director Ed Salek confirmed the organization currently has 3,500 individual members, and that 150 companies or organizations hold corporate membership in STLE.

Obviously, with the globalization processes when many companies merged, and with the economic downturn, our membership has been reduced to some level in the recent years, but this number is pretty much stable. We regularly survey what are the members needs or complaints. The society envisions membership to grow globally, and this is one of the reasons why it strives to collaborate with other similar groups.

Besides working with the Chinese, we are making efforts to establish firm relation with the Tribology Society of India, he continued, adding that last year STLE presented educational courses in India.

Drechsler pointed out the median age of the STLE membership is 45 years. However, in certain areas we have an aging population, and we see a need to bring in younger tribologists. Each generation is motivated by different factors. The things that we should understand are what would attract younger members to become the leaders of the society today.

The Young Tribologists Program instituted by our member Dr. Ashley Martini from Purdue University or the local organization sections set up by STLE in some university campuses in the U.S. and abroad are excellent ways to attract the younger tribologists into the society, Drechsler concluded.