The recent letter (“Societies need to regain focus,” Aug. 6, Page 6) by Bill Tobin certainly caught my attention and also, I am sure, that of many of my fellow Society of Plastics Engineers members.
Mr. Tobin's historic perspective of the reason for the existence of societies is very correct, and the evolution he speaks about is very true. It is also continuing. The advent of e-mail and other electronic communication changed our professional lives substantially, and we do not seek or receive information the same way we used to. But this doesn't make societies obsolete or redundant.
Progressive societies like SPE have active programs involving electronic communication. Today's world-class societies have comprehensive, current and member-relevant Web sites. For a company making money, society support involves much more than giving leads. In the rapidly advancing industry we belong to, equally important is solving technical and production problems, as well as being able to bring a product to market using the most suitable materials and efficient and profitable processes.
SPE provides just that to its members and customers.
Training seminars in all technical topics imaginable and about most plastic processes are sponsored and held around North America on an almost-continuous basis. About 50 technical conferences are sponsored each year with such diverse topics — thermoforming, hollow-part products, polyolefins, color and appearance — being considered world-class and “must attend” to anyone in those industry segments. Also each year, at our annual technical conference more than 1,000 papers are presented to close to 5,000 attendees. And while all this is going on, new products like our Injection Molding Technician Toolbox are being perfected and launched onto the market.
No there is no shortage of what we as a society provide for our members to help them and their companies succeed and profit in the plastics industry today.
But there is another reason for societies to exist and to function the way they do. Libraries and other means of disseminating knowledge have existed for many years, long before most plastics societies were formed. The people who founded SPE and all the other societies that exist today didn't come together just to exchange information, find leads for new businesses or solve technical problems. They came together out of a common purpose, a feeling of fellowship and brotherhood. People with a similar occupation and background wanted to meet, exchange pleasantries and good times, build up friendships and create relationships.
This was true in the Dark Ages, and we believe it is true today, and we at SPE are working to make it happen. We believe we are working on the things that matter, while forever attentive to the needs of our members.
Terence J. Browitt
Society of Plastics Engineers