Southwest Tennessee Community College

April 13, 2006

For more information, contact: Southwest at (901) 333-4024 or 4116

Release written by Pat O’Brien

Changes in manufacturing and corporate structure in the Memphis area in recent years induced a temporary decline in activity for some professional engineering societies here. But that’s changing fast, according to Geoffrey Wood, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Southwest Engineering Technologies Department.

“Emerging technologies and extended applications of newer ones are prompting a big resurgence of interest and activity. The continuing upswing in warehousing and distribution and – most especially – response to the need for logistic and biomedical industries to assess and implement the latest quality assurance and tracking technologies – has professional engineering societies in a continuous process of adaptation and rejuvenation. The emphasis for all of them is to promote new quality techniques, certification and technology. And that’s happening now.”

To help provide venues for exploration of expansion opportunities, Southwest this month will host meetings of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, SME, and the Institute of Industrial Engineers, IIE. “We have a long history of involvement with engineering and professional societies, notably SME,” said Wood. He served six years on SME’s local and regional boards and as senior chapter chair in 2001. Currently, technical training specialist Steve Williams serves as the student chapter vice-chair and as newsletter editor for the senior chapter.

“The college is particularly well positioned to serve engineering societies and industry,” said Wood. “We have, first, the programs to educate in engineering technology, and then we have the capacity to respond quickly to the need to develop programs to help engineering professionals keep abreast of rapid changes. Our involvement with Memphis Bioworks in the area of engineering technology centers around quality assurance – the most critical aspect of manufacturing in that industry and quality assurance is an integral part of all our engineering technology programs.”

The IIE meeting April 20 on the Macon Cove Campus will present a lecture on RFID applications. RFID (radio frequency identification) is in its infancy, used primarily for inventory, traffic and safety. The ramifications are potentially much greater, according to Wood. “RFID is being developed for direct support in complex formats to streamline production and distribution.” The dinner meeting will be at 5:30 in the Farris Auditorium and requires reservations. Cost is $10; to reserve, call Geoff Wood at 901/333-4376.

The SME program on April 26 at Macon Cove will take the form of a panel discussion on “Lean Manufacturing.” The application of Just-in-Time manufacturing techniques incorporates flexibility and quality assurance into manufacturing, again in the burgeoning biomedical field as well as other industries whose emphasis is on high technology. “This approach allows quick adaptation to changing customer requirements minimizes waste and allows minimal inventory to serve customers quickly. Quality is designed in as products are built, as opposed to relying on final inspection to determine acceptability of the product,” said Wood.

Cost for the SME meeting is $20. To make reservations, call Steve Williams, (901) 333-4989.