Getting involved with SME is a win-win for the Society and your profession

January 7, 2021

by Margo Ellis, Associate Editor

As a member-led organization, SME depends on our many volunteers who help make the organization one of the world’s top mining societies. Member volunteers participate on hundreds of committees, contributing technical content, evaluating and selecting award winners, serving as Local Section and Student Chapter leaders and more.

Past President Hugh Miller comments on how he initially got involved, “While attending my first SME Annual Meeting, I received an invitation from a friend to attend the M&E Division Meeting. It was a great experience where everyone was welcoming and the discussion focused on issues I was interested in. In time, I developed friendships within the group and became increasingly involved in a wide variety of activities, beginning with programming. The sheer breadth of activities represented by SME provided me with opportunities to get engaged in committees that I found both captivating and beneficial to my professional career.”

While volunteers contribute much to SME, being an association volunteer can also help you build your professional network, enhance your skills and give back to your profession:

  • Contribute to the mining and underground construction community through SME’s programs and services. Get to know other SME members as you build your professional network.
  • Enhance your professional competencies through the development of leadership, project management and other skills.
  • Showcase your skills and work style as you plan and implement activities and projects for SME’s members.

Volunteers are the heart of a membership organization like SME. Volunteering is important, rewarding and enjoyable. It’s a good feeling to know that what you’re doing helps the organization and your colleagues in the mining industry. Best of all, volunteering can be a lot of fun.

Some volunteer positions within SME require that you be appointed by the Board or nominated by a SME or UCA member. These types of volunteer positions include strategic committees and the Board of Directors.

However, other volunteer positions are open to interested member volunteers. These types of positions include various Division committees. For example, the SME Divisions plan and organize technical sessions for the SME annual conference, host fundraising lunches (when the conference is held in person) and hold fundraisers for scholarships. These types of volunteer activities are a great way to start getting involved with SME.

If you’re interested in volunteering with an SME Division in 2021, here’s how:

  1. Attend a Division meeting at the MINEXCHANGE 2021 SME Annual Conference & Expo.
  2. Email and let us know your volunteer interests. We’ll connect you with a staff Division Liaison.

Your Local Section or Student Chapter are often looking for volunteers to plan and implement professional development programs and community outreach programs.

  1. Volunteer with your Local Section — email SME section coordinator Rachel Grimes and she will connect you to Local Section leadership.
  2. Volunteer with your university’s Student Chapter — see a list of Student Chapters, then email Mona Vandervoort to connect you with Student Chapter leadership.

Vasu Gangrade, SME Young Leader and Mining Engineer at NIOSH, discusses his experience, “I joined SME to grow my network in the mining industry and to keep my technical skills sharp. Every year I make a list of goals I want to accomplish and technical areas I want to learn more about, and the SME resources really helped me achieve them. The wide range of resources such as OneMine, MME journal, conference proceedings, short courses and handbooks helped me get up to speed on technical skills and innovative technologies in mining engineering. I have built a strong network over the years within the industry. As a result, I received leads, interviews, awards and, most importantly, job offers through active participation in SME. I am a firm believer in having mentors and following in their footsteps and seeking guidance when in doubt or in need. I have been lucky enough to find multiple mentors through SME, including lifetime members of the Coal & Energy Division and even past SME presidents.”

Volunteer positions within SME require varying time commitments. Some things to consider before you throw your hat in the ring to volunteer include:

  • Can you attend committee meetings in person (if required) or virtually?
  • Will you be an active participant in committee discussions?
  • Can you complete assigned tasks in a timely manner?
  • Will you remain an SME member in good standing for the duration of your term?
  • Will you represent SME and your committees professionally?

Miller further added, “Through SME, I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to work closely and develop personal relationships with some truly outstanding people I would never have known otherwise. This includes both industry professionals as well as the SME staff. The networking opportunities to interact with other professionals and the technical knowledge gained from exhibitors, printed materials and conference programming are two of the most prominent aspects of SME that have had a direct bearing on my career.”


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