SME President's Page

William Edgerton

Strengthening the SME Sections has been an objective of SME leadership for the past five years or more. The sections are such an important part of our Society that it’s important to re-emphasize their value.

As background: SME Sections are individual chapters, encompassing a specific geographic area or addressing a distinct interest area. Sections are created and led by volunteer leadership at the section level. They are not separately incorporated, use the administrative authority of SME, and must coordinate all official business, including financial reporting, through the SME main office. Sections elect their own officers and self-govern within the terms of their bylaws, which are approved by the SME Board of Directors. At present, SME has 46 professional sections and 78 student chapters, ranging in size from 11 to 1,100 members. You can find a list under the membership tab on the main www.smenet.org website. Functions of sections include local field trips, speakers, scholarships and social events. Some of the larger sections hold their own conferences, for which they provide technical talks and other programming.

Sections provide a place for SME members to connect at a face-to-face level, and participate in professional development, networking and provide service to the public as representatives of the mining and underground construction community. Since they are based on geographic area, sections can focus on local or regional topics in mining and underground construction that may not be addressed by SME at the national level. Many of the professional sections partner with student chapters and help educate teachers about mineral resources and participate in scouting and K-12 outreach activities. By so doing, they work to improve the perception of our industry through community outreach and education.

Section membership can foster leadership skills as well. Participation in sections can lead to leadership positions in the Society as a whole, since section officers are considered committee officers within SME and are thus eligible to be nominated for offices at the SME.

Section meetings and field trips support knowledge transfer and facilitate development of regional industry contacts. The friendships and contacts developed through section participation are invaluable for career development, and frequently prove helpful, both in developing new business and exchanging technical information. There is clear value in taking advantage of opportunities to meet people within the industry, both new and experienced. The local conversations include history, new product development, and application of new technology - all viewed from local perspectives.

During the past 15 months or so, section meetings have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as have all SME meetings. Some of our sections have continued with virtual meetings, with many experiencing loss of attendance. As the country ramps back up into in-person meetings, now is a great time to re-discover the value of section membership. The network of sections strengthens SME’s mission to serve the mining, resources and underground construction communities for a sustainable future, and supports the advancement of the industry.

Visit https://www.smenet.org/Membership-Benefits/Sections-and-Chapters to find a section near your home or work, or email sections@smenet.org for more information.