Update from the President

Your SAWE has been very busy and I’d like to share about several topics that I hope will excite and encourage your participation.  SAWE continues to be actively engaged in all aspects of our mission to provide technical support, industry guidance, training, and knowledge exchange.  If you’re not already involved, you need to get involved.  It will enhance your career and open new opportunities for learning, leadership, and development.

Developing The “New Normal” for SAWE

What is the new normal for SAWE?  Since I became a member in 1981, SAWE has had a model for international conferences, regional conferences, training, chapter meetings, and Board of Director’s meetings that has worked pretty well and hasn’t changed very much.  However, this year we were forced to make changes and hold events virtually.  While we were initially very nervous, apprehensive, and skeptical – it has worked well.  The TECH Fair and Training event experience provided a significant learning opportunity for enhanced capabilities and outreach.

Therefore we are considering new models for our activities.  Some of these will be temporary for the pandemic.  And some of them show promise for the long term.  These new models, based on online attendance, make it easier and more affordable to participate.

Energizing SAWE with Virtual Events

  • Standards and Practices workshops

Our industry committees will be meeting online several times during the year.  Typical agenda items are: developing new Recommended Practices (RP’s), review and update of existing RP’s, forum discussion of technical issues, and other industry guidance topics.  VP Standards and Practices, Doug Fisher, continues to facilitate progress on these vital committees’ work.

  • Technical Forums

This will be a new a new activity consisting of several online forum discussions.  VP Technical, Robert Zimmerman, needs your input for topics to discuss.  These forums will be about 1 hour long and scheduled throughout the rest of the year (thru May).  Your participation is required to make these forums a success.  So submit topics to Robert and look forward to the exchange of ideas with colleagues from across SAWE.

  • Training Courses

We will be offering several online training courses throughout the remainder of the year.  This worked well during the TECH Fair and want to ensure additional opportunities for training in the mass properties community.   Our instructors have adapted very well to this virtual environment and it is much easier for students to attend.  Not every course lends itself to the virtual version, but most of them are adaptable.  Be on the lookout for these opportunities and VP Training, Dan Rowley, schedules these training courses.

  • Certification Development workshops

We will hold a couple of online workshops for SAWE members to get an update on the status of the Certification Program development and to provide their feedback.  As our Certification Development committee progresses, we want to ensure that everyone gets a chance for input.  And we want to ensure that the program is well understood by mass properties certification candidates, companies that will sponsor employees to get certified, and the customer community anticipating qualification credentials.  These workshops will be facilitated by Certification chair, Andy Schuster.

  • Academic Advisor and Liaison development discussions

SAWE’s VP Academic Affairs, Dr. Donna Gerren, has implemented a program to increase student involvement in SAWE by creating direct links between chapters (Academic Liaisons) and universities (Academic Advisors).  There will be regular online meetings to discuss activities, opportunities, and brainstorm ideas as this innovative concept takes flight.

  • Happy Hours, a series

One of the opportunities at a conference is the informal Happy Hour.  Many relationships and even some useful work have been built during enjoyable conversation.  Happy hours were requested during the TECH Fair and we had several.  We found out that online happy hours work!  So we will be scheduling some regular happy hours for everyone to link in and visit.  It’s a great way to catch up with each other as well as meet some new folks.  Also, we learn more about each other’s background, hobbies, etc.  The Zoom tool has a feature called breakout rooms, so if a few folks want to talk aside from the big group, it’s possible.

Although “it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere”, we’ll schedule happy hours that are convenient for a few key time zones.

  • Shared Chapter Meetings

Chapter meetings are very important to SAWE membership.  This is where leadership and involvement in the organization usually begins.  Locally it is a great way to keep up with colleagues in your area and work on projects together.

The concept of shared chapter meetings mixes an online presentation to several chapters with separate chapter meetings in breakout rooms.  Since chapters cannot physically meet together, this is a great way to combine the program as well as have your separate meeting.

TECH Fair and Training: post conference report


Registration for the TECH Fair was about 120.  Attendance in each session ranged from 70-100.  Workshop attendance was higher than usual with the Military Aircraft session as high as 60.  Training enrollment was very good with AWBS topping the list at 47.  The Marine Estimation course was cancelled, however, due to only one person enrolled.  (we’ll be offering it again soon and try to get adequate enrollment for this very valuable course).


Each year SAWE’s International conference provides a substantial revenue stream for our yearly budget.  The TECH Fair and Training event raised much needed revenue toward replacing the cancelled Hamburg conference.  Independently the financial results were very good.  But with expenses of the cancelled conference, it fell a bit short.

General feedback:

Response from registrants of the TECH Fair and Training event has been overall very positive.  Folks liked the partial day schedule so that they were able to integrate it into their work day.  In addition, training budget was much more efficient and many companies were able to “send” their whole mass properties group.  Of course time wise, without need for travel, this virtual conference saved a lot of money and time.

Impact on the future:

This event was conducted out of necessity and was a significant challenge for the planning team to emulate the events and results of an in person conference with a virtual conference.  It was totally experimental.  The results are that we discovered opportunities and capabilities that can be very beneficial.  Especially as we define the “new normal”.

TECH Fair and Training planning committee team:

I want to thank the small team of dedicated SAWE members for pulling together the first SAWE virtual conference in such a short time and such a professional manner.  This effort was executed in about 2 months with no prior experience.  Every aspect of our regular conference was included (except handshakes).

President’s Priorities for 2020-2021 as presented at the Board of Director’s meeting May 23rd

  • Grow SAWE membership and participation
  • Successful SAWE TECH Fair and Training (virtual conference)
  • Training program continue to develop new courses and instructors
  • Cocoa Beach Conference, ensure it is a success
  • Academic Liaison Initiative – nurture and develop
  • Continue communication and workshopping activities
  • Mass Properties Engineer Certification – mature program development
  • Hamburg Conference contract cancellation – follow up
  • Develop additional ANSI accredited Recommended Practices

Best regards to all,

John Hargrave

SAWE President

One thought on “Update from the President”

  1. Very nice letter. I just wanted to comment on the virtual aspect. Recently the Texas and Houston chapters shared conversation and camaraderie via a virtual happy hour. As noted in the update, this can be done for many activities important to the society. When planning something, reach out to other chapters/members in your region and/or industry type. To quote our SAWE President, “build it and they will come”.

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