The President Speaks - Review of the 2002 STLE Annual Meeting

Dr. Josiah Knight

The 57th annual meeting of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) was held May 19-23, 2002 in Houston, Texas. More than 1,000 tribology scientists, base oil manufacturers, additive manufacturers, lubricant blenders, suppliers, lubrication engineers and others joined to discuss various aspects of tribology and lubrication, to highlight the events of the past year, and set the stage for the society’s members for the coming year. Here are a few highlights from the event.

NASA scientist and astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, a veteran of five space flights where she has logged 50 days in space, delivered the keynote address. She discussed her missions to space with particular focus upon the International Space Station and the role tribology plays in achieving equipment reliability. The critical nature of reliability is no more evident than in space travel.

More than 250 technical papers were presented on a wide range of subjects. Highly technical, research-oriented presentations on lubricant components and lubricant design, wear, tribo-testing, biodegradable lubricants, etc., were augmented by equipment-specific, industry-specific and industry-oriented presentations.

Optional one-day education courses were offered to delegates starting the Sunday before the conference on the subjects of basic lubrication, metalworking fluids, bearings and their lubrication, condition-monitoring and synthetic lubricants.

More than 100 companies exhibited their goods and services. Among those represented included base oil suppliers, additive suppliers, instrument suppliers, laboratories, filter companies and others. The exhibition kicked off with the always-popular annual Welcoming Party on Monday evening, following sessions on the first day of conference.

During the annual President’s Luncheon, current STLE president Phillip R. Miller, of the Gateway Additive Company, turned the gavel over to Dr. Josiah (Joe) Knight, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University, STLE’s president for 2002-2003. Despite his busy schedule during the conference, Dr. Knight graciously agreed to an interview with Machinery Lubrication magazine. Here is what he had to say:

What is your agenda for your term as STLE president?

Dr. Knight:
“Two main objectives:

  • “Build a sense of community in the worldwide tribology community to unite individuals, organizations and countries toward the common objectives of improving our understanding of tribology and its applications.
  • “Develop a better process by which STLE can network up and down the supply chain - from scientists and designers to producers and end-users.”

Do you wish to communicate anything to the lubrication engineers, technicians and craftspeople who make up the readership of Machinery Lubrication magazine?

Dr. Knight:
“The new STLE mission statement includes a focus on equipment reliability, which ultimately benefits the end-user. The hardest group to reach is the end-user, but it is critical to keep working to create connectivity between researchers, suppliers and end-users.”

What do you hope will be the legacy of your STLE presidency?

Dr. Knight:
“I hope to more clearly articulate the notion of community and help STLE to envision its role in the global network of improvement-minded people who are determined to improve their understanding of friction, lubrication and wear and to open the way to practical improvements as a result of this knowledge.”

Next year’s annual STLE conference will take place April 27 through May 1, 2003 at the New York Hilton and Towers, New York, NY.

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