I would like to know what will compel Materials professionals to attend & participate in monthly chapter meetings.
Start with networking - it really helps to be able to informally connect with other people who do the same type of work that are outside your organization. Also, talks are good for continuing education and you can even get credit for them depending on the instance. I have found it really has helped over my career.
I think Aaron and Jim have made excellent points. The key is that your members go home from the meeting thinking what a great experience it was to have attended, whether that was because of an intriguing technical (or nontechnical) presentation, a chance to talk to peer professionals about challenges with their careers, being recognized for contributing to the chapter or the profession, or even winning a door prize! The critical thing is that they don't think, "Well there was a complete waste of an evening!"
What this means is that the chapter exec need to think carefully about what their membership is likely to value, and then work to ensure that is what is delivered each meeting. Also, after investing so much effort into planning a great meeting, assuming "If I build it, they will come" is a bad idea - email reminders, etc can boost your participation. If you have some large organizations in your chapter (like Cummins in your case), then having local committee members reminding their organization's members and potential new members can make a real difference. To Jim's point, it is a bit chicken and egg - a big turnout often equals a successful meeting, and a successful meeting helps generate the next big turnout.Good luck!
I think Edward has it right, they need to be varied, interesting topics & name tags. In my old chapter in Warren we did really great with plant visits in between restaurant meetings. I hosted on my can end paint line, we did a custom crane manufacturer, a very old steel cold mill that had done an exceptional job with modernization making some extreme high quality fine blanking steel, and a plant that made crankshafts for ocean going freighters. Just a few examples. And we had good meal choices at the restaurant for non plant visits with adult beverages available.Unfortunately Covid pretty well shut down the chapter, next closest does pretty well. In contrast I accidentally dropped my mechanical engineering membership as I think they had one local meeting in all the years I belonged. And most of the mailers were selling life insurance so I apparently missed renewal.
Roberta, all of the other responders have made excellent points in terms of outreach, interesting material, interaction with students, etc. One thing I would like to add is that just about everyone gives at least lipservice to the idea of networking and professional interaction being valuable to one's career. But what has gone away is actual tangible support for that from employers. Any employer with more than one person in the materials field should be encouraging its employees to attend these meetings, and by encourage I mean making it a professional goal in their advancement evaluation, as well as paying for the meeting attendance including the meal cost and transportation costs. If a chapter does not have incoming, enthusiastic members then it will end up in a declining attendance and governance situation that will become a death spiral. This is said coming from someone who served on the local Chapter's executive committee and went through the full Officer progression.
The flip side though is that even if your employer does not fund or support participation, you may still gain by funding yourself because you may connect with your new employer. This has happened to me several times.
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