Celebrate Diversity

Celebrate Diversity

diversity team workThe village I grew up in was 100% Caucasian. As was every village in the county. Well, there was one black family in one of the villages. When I announced sympathy for the civil rights movement at somewhere around 1967, I took a bunch of grief.

I’m not sure when it dawned on me that driving through Mississippi on my way to graduate school in Louisiana with a civil rights decal on the car in 1970 was not a wise decision. I did live to tell about it, though.

Race and Gender

We have come a long way since the mid-60s. We have a black President, and we could have a woman President (at least a couple are serious contenders for 2016). But much work remains.

My dad quit attending the church he had been at for more than 50 years because they called a woman pastor. That was only 15 years ago. But even that barrier has been overcome in most churches. Just shows, we need to keep working to develop our sensitivities.


Manufacturing, especially engineering (manufacturing engineers, process engineers, chemical engineers, and the like), is still overwhelmingly a male domain.

That is changing, too. For at least the past 10 years, I’ve seen many women, younger people, and ethnic heritages at the engineering conferences I attend. This is a good thing.

That a diverse team is a stronger team is a fact becoming increasingly realized. Here is a report of a recent study confirming new points regarding team strengths due to assembling a diverse group.

The Website Big Think recently ran an article by Orion Jones, Sensitivity, Women, Sharing: What makes teams smart. Here is a partial quote:

When teams of professionals are composed of more women, share ideas in equal part, and are emotionally perceptive, they make better decisions and find better solutions to problems.

As part of an emerging science of effective teamwork, researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University have been asking why some teams, like some individuals, are measurably smarter than others.

Scientists classify individual intelligence as general rather than specific. In other words, smarter people are smarter across the board. People with larger vocabularies, for example, also tend to be better at mathematics, even though we tend to think of those as distinct areas of intelligence.

Group intelligence is also general. Groups which performed better on tasks that involved logical analysis and brainstorming also did better on problems emphasizing coordination, planning and moral reasoning.

The smartest teams were distinguished by members which contributed more equally to the discussion, were better at reading complex emotional states in lab settings, and were composed of more women (possibly because women are better at identifying emotion).

These characteristics were also true of groups that corresponded online, either through live chatrooms, conference calls, or traditional email.


It is not only race, but gender, ethnic and geographic diversity that counts. Bringing together such a group that is focused on working together is going to yield better results.

In memory of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as pursuit of excellence, let’s continue building diversity into our team development.

Scholarships Awarded to Manufacturing Engineering Students

Scholarships Awarded to Manufacturing Engineering Students

SME Logo

SME Logo

Many of you know that I’m a member both of SME and ISA. It has been interesting to watch the two membership organizations adapt to changing times differently. One great initiative of SME is The SME Education Foundation. It has just awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships to 232 aspiring manufacturing engineers.

In June, the Foundation awarded $120,000 in Family and Director Scholarships to eight students pursuing engineering careers. In addition, the 2013 SME-EF scholarship winner’s circle includes 224 students who were awarded $521,500 in scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $7,000, with some receiving multiple awards.

The press release offers details on recipients of Family Awards. I wasn’t positive about publishing the names of students. But then I figured that just when we are deluged with bad news of deviant people, here is a list of accomplished young people. It’s a reminder that there is hope for the world–and for manufacturing.

Award winners

Morgan K. Montalvo, Woodland Hills, Calif., recipient of the $70,000, four-year scholarship, will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif. A graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory High School, West Hills, CA, her academic achievements include AP and honors classes which she successfully completed with a 4.2 GPA. She was a member of the Eagle Engineering Robotics team which qualified for VEX World Championships from 2008-2012. Morgan is the daughter of SME member Susan McConnell, SME Chapter 173, Los Angeles & Ventura County.

Kelsey A. Scheppers, Holts Summit, Mo., recipient of a $10,000, one-year scholarship, will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. A graduate of Helias High School, Jefferson City, Mo., she was at the top of her class with a 4.0 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society, the Academic Team, the Library Squad and Club International. Kelsey is the daughter of SME member Tom Scheppers, SME Chapter 287, Mid-Missouri.

Selin Frances Sirinterlikci, Moon Township, Pa., recipient of a $10,000, one-year scholarship, will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. A graduate of Moon SHS, Moon Township, Pa., her 4.49 GPA reflects an exceptional academic record which includes AP and honors classes as well as membership in VEX Robotics, Bots-IQ and the speech & debate club. She is the daughter of Arif Sirinterlikci, SME Chapter 8, Pittsburgh.

Rebecca Ann Kurfess, Clemson, S.C., recipient of a $10,000, one-year scholarship, will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. A graduate of D. W. Daniel High School, Central, S.C., she led her class with a 4.0 GPA and has already successfully completed two college-level math and economics courses. Rebecca is the daughter of SME member Thomas Kurfess, SME Chapter 61, Atlanta.

In 2013, the Directors Scholarship acknowledged the contributions of Phillip Marsilius, FSME, LSME and awarded scholarships in his name. The Phillip Marsilius Directors Scholarshipwas presented to four students, each of whom received a one-year, $5,000 award. The recipients were:

Josiah H. Johnson, Duluth, Minn., is pursuing a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wis., where he holds a cumulative 3.53 GPA. His ultimate career goal is to establish his own consulting firm which will provide financial advice as well as engineering solutions to manufacturing companies. Josiah is a member of SME Student Chapter S088, University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Timothy W. Biederman, Osage, Iowa, is in the process of completing a Bachelor of Science degree in both Manufacturing Engineering and Automated Manufacturing at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa and maintains a 4.0 GPA. He currently holds a CNC Technology Associate Degree from Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, Iowa, and hopes to one day become a manufacturing engineer involved with the CNC machining process. Timothy is a member of SME Student Chapter S126, University of Northern Iowa.

Cheyenne McAnlis, Scottsdale, Ariz., is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial & Operations Engineering at Arizona State University – Polytechnic Campus, Mesa, Ariz., and maintains a 4.0 GPA. He hopes to become a manufacturing engineer working with CNC multi-axis operations or designing flexible manufacturing systems. Cheyenne is a member of SME Student Chapter S043, Arizona State University.

Olivia J. Girod, Eugene, OR., is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR., and recently completed the MECOP (Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program) internship. She is an honors student looking for a career that will allow her to combine her Industrial Engineering and Project Management skills. Olivia is a member of SME Student Chapter S019, Oregon State University.

“In today’s economic climate, scholarships are crucial to students and their chances for viable careers,” says Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. “As the emerging technologies sector continues to accelerate, companies increasingly dependent on advanced manufacturing technologies want to hire engineers capable of designing and improving products.”

The SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship Awards seek to support the children and grandchildren of SME members and to encourage their pursuit of careers in manufacturing engineering and technology.

Since 1998, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $8.1 million in scholarships and $1.2 million in awards through its various scholarship programs to graduating high school seniors, current undergraduates and masters or doctoral degree students pursuing degrees in manufacturing and related fields at two and four-year colleges.

Two other Websites that SME maintains are CareerMe for information on advanced manufacturing careers and ManufacturingisCool, our award-winning website for young people.