Martin Webster, Ph.D., began his 2015-2016 term as president of the Society of Tribologists & Lubrication Engineers, during the groups annual meeting and exhibition in Dallas.
An aeronautical engineer who also holds a doctorate in tribology, Webster is senior research associate with ExxonMobil Research & Engineering and leads the lubrication science research activities at its strategic laboratory in Annandale, N.J. In mid-May he succeeded 2014-2015 STLE President Maureen Hunter, technical service manager for King Industries in Norwalk, Conn.
Martin joined STLE in 1989 and has been an active volunteer and dedicated leader, Hunter told STLE attendees, as she handed off to him on May 19. I know the society is in great hands under his leadership.
Webster recalled attending an STLE international joint tribology conference in Florida in the fall of 1989. With this STLE experience, I quickly found myself presented with work and organizing sessions. Without realizing it, I came to value participation in these large meetings. He then began to attend local STLE section meetings, and to learn more about topics outside his immediate research interest. From there, he began going on regularly scheduled trips to visit companies involved in the industry.
He said STLE is in the second year of a long-term strategic plan, which envisions several key roles for the society. One of our roles is to improve the expertise of technical professionals – thats basically the membership we broadly represent, Webster told LubesnGreases. The second one is we would like to be one of the leaders in the effort to advance innovation in tribology and lubrication engineering.
As an advocate for tribology and lubrication engineering, Webster noted that the role of STLE is to help improve the expertise of technology professionals, through various events, education courses, regional and student chapters, and Certified Lubrication Specialist exams and qualification. Were continually trying to improve those, he noted. The society is also seeking other avenues to provide education, Webster noted, whether via its web site or through publishing.
Under each of these roles, the society is developing a number of projects. One of the first will be a website designed to address the needs and issues of end users, due in August, and more will follow, he promised. Over the course of the next few years, well be announcing as we roll out specific things, he added.
Education and student outreach was a cornerstone of Hunters term as president, too. Hunter holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Her career brought her to the specialty chemical company King Industries 22 years ago, but her involvement in STLE came even earlier, as a student member of its Pittsburgh Section in 1986 – 29 years ago.
Two years ago, she led a team of volunteers who oversaw the first-ever STEM Camp (the acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) held during an STLE annual meeting, in Detroit. Now a fixture on the groups yearly calendar, the camp is designed to get high school students excited about the challenges and opportunities of careers in tribology research and lubrication engineering. The camp engages teens with hands-on scientific experiments, lectures and close interactions with mentors from the field.
The effort got an impressive boost during the Dallas meeting as ExxonMobil donated $25,000 to STLE, earmarked for STEM education.
On another educational front, Webster noted, STLE restarted its Tribology Frontiers conference a year ago. The goal there was to try and identify trends in technology and try to bring in people from diverse backgrounds and different areas, Webster said. We really want to generate a culture of innovation. The 2015 conference will be held Oct. 25-27 in Denver. (For details, visit www.stle.org.)
In its role as a science advocate, STLE also awards honorary membership to prominent individuals, he continued. When we get people in a very high public profile position, its nice to have them speak on your behalf, he said. This year, the STLE board of directors voted to confer honorary membership on keynote speaker Capt. Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, a former astronaut. (Read more about her on page 44.)
Webster received bachelors and masters degrees in aeronautical engineering and a doctorate in tribology from Imperial College in London. Following a post-doctoral internship with Shell, he went on to develop wind turbines for Taylor Woodrows Wind Energy Group in the U.K., and then joined Mobil (now ExxonMobil) in 1989 – the same year he joined STLE. An expert in bearing lubrication, rolling contact fatigue and rough surface contact mechanics, he also holds patents on new lubrication components, novel lubrication mechanisms and test methods.
Other STLE officers elected to 2015-2016 terms include vice president Ali Erdemir, of Argonne National Laboratory, secretary Mike Anderson of Falex Corp., and treasurer Greg Croce of Chevron Products Co.