Building ASME’s Foundation for the Future


May 12, 2017


ASME President Keith Roe

To the ASME Community: Greetings!

Welcome to the first in a series of communications we’re putting together under the rubric Building ASME’s Foundation for the Future. As we head into the final stretch of what has been a vital year for ASME, we’ve reached a good moment to share an update on where we are and where we’re headed. 

For perspective, as you know, ASME has been dedicated to engineers, engineering and the wider world ever since our founding 137 years ago. Whether by world-renowned standards creation, professional training and workforce development, leading publications, conferences and public policy work, or through the support and advancement of new technologies to make the world a better place, ASME has made significantly more than a century’s worth of remarkable contributions to the safety and improved quality of life of people everywhere.

Last June, I was inaugurated as ASME’s 135th president — the honor of any engineer’s professional life. But it wasn’t just any year. My term arrived at a transformative moment.

ASME’s Board of Governors had voted the previous September to adopt a new strategy to unify all Society activity, founded squarely on technology leadership. Five key technologies were approved in June 2016: Robotics, Manufacturing, Clean Energy, Bioengineering and Pressure Technology. The new approach had been taking shape for some years already. As my term began, the new strategy had been approved and was in place. I loved the strategy and was excited to help launch it in my year!

It was time to execute, and the clock was ticking. As the new stewards of our historic organization, it was our job to begin realizing the vision. This meant a great and quite rare opportunity to re-envision how ASME works with and engages its members and constituents, responding to an explicit call from the Board to expand ASME’s reach and global impact well into the future. To reach the ambitious goal the BOG had set, we had no time to waste.

We began at the beginning and resolved to build a strong foundation for the significantly enhanced organizational impact ASME’s Governors had challenged us to create. The language they adopted that past September was unequivocal:

“By 2025, ASME is called upon to be the go-to organization to help address key technology-related challenges in the public interest in a manner that engages core engineering constituencies (government, academia, industry, engineers, students, and technology-development professionals)….” As a result of successfully pursuing this objective, ASME would be expected to grow and increase its global and technology footprint while increasing its mission impact.

Taking on the challenge to become a true multiple-market technology leader was no small task. It meant ASME had to begin the work to:

  • Strengthen our focus and insights into those primary markets;
  • Learn new product development skills and capabilities;
  • Convene subject matter experts to develop content ecosystems in each technology;
  • Ensure our priorities were embodied in our strategies and well-implemented at every step;
  • Be disciplined and focused in our work;
  • Change our culture to reflect the demands placed on us as a technology leader;
  • Set ourselves on a course toward rock-solid fiscal health.

ASME’s leadership agreed that raising the Society’s game had to start with the BOG raising its own game — ASME had to have a “High-Performing Board” to lead this effort. But while a culture change of such magnitude starts with the Board, we also created several “Presidential Task Force” working groups to focus intensively on that and a select group of other vital areas. These now include:

  • Increasing Industry Engagement Leadership in ASME (Chair: Stacey Swisher Harnetty)
  • Student and Early Career (Chair: Terry Shoup)
  • Strategy and Planning (Chair: John Goossen)
  • Building a High Performance Board (Chair: Bill Wepfer)

We also instituted a Sector Management Committee dedicated to Group Engagement/Alignment (Chair: Rick Marboe) to optimize our internal structures and align them with the larger effort.

As of this writing, all these teams have been at their work for months now, charting the way forward on each of their mutually reinforcing goals. I look forward to sharing details of their work with you in our next article in the series, as well as other areas of growth and good effort that merit your attention at this point. 

To complete the task set for us by the BOG will take more years of persistence and resolve, but I am proud to say, here in the home stretch of my term: the foundation is solid and well along in construction. Please watch this space to learn more — the more you know about the work done so far, as well as what is still to come, the more confident I am you’ll be excited to join in as ASME charts its course to the future. The work is well begun.

With all best wishes —

Keith Roe, ASME President