Transforming membership

  • 21-May-2010 07:29 EDT
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For more than a century, engineers in the aerospace, automobile, and commercial vehicle industries have enjoyed and benefited from the prestige and value of membership in SAE International.

Industry pioneers like Orville Wright and Glenn Curtiss were SAE members, as are current-day leaders including William Clay Ford Jr. and thousands of engineers across the global mobility universe.

Each of these professionals found value from the traditional SAE membership—a membership that offered access to relevant technical information and excellent local networking opportunities, like Section meetings.

For decades, this traditional model fully met the needs of millions of mobility engineers. However, in today’s global engineering environment, with its increased demands on time and unfettered access to vast amounts of technical information, the longstanding value derived through SAE membership is changing.

These major trends are not lost on Scott Klavon, Director of Membership and Professional Services for SAE International.

“As an engineer, a former U.S. Navy officer, and a former maintenance engineer on U.S. Marine Corps helicopters, I realized that my needs and expectations of a professional society membership are changing over time, both in response to the new demands that are being placed on me as well as the different phases of my own career path,” Klavon said. He further noted there is an ever-accelerating gap between the traditional membership model and the needs of today’s mobility engineers.

It became clear to SAE that the modest changes we've periodically introduced in the past would not suffice to meet the sophisticated, value-oriented, and globally savvy engineering community of today and tomorrow. The economic upheaval of the global crisis of 2008-09 and its concomitant impact on the mobility industry became a clarion call for SAE International to take a fresh look at membership and contemporize its value proposition for today’s engineering environment.

As with any re-engineering project, Klavon and his team of SAE staff insisted that customer requirements drive the process. Based on input from members from around the world as well as analysis of the programs, products, and services most valued by engineers, the Membership Services and Sections Board and SAE’s membership team set out to design a membership model that is completely in sync with today’s professionals.

As the new model began to take shape, best practices from professional societies, as well as loyalty programs (e.g., frequent traveler and preferred customer programs) commonly used throughout the commercial world, infused SAE’s thinking.

The new model that emerged is unlike anything seen in traditional professional societies. As an SAE member, you can now choose the membership package that best meets your needs. Often referred to as a “tiered model,” you can select from Student, Classic, Premium, and Elite membership packages.

The benefits offer customized value regardless of what stage of your career you are in. Students can attend SAE events for free and can access SAE’s new student-oriented magazine, Momentum. Young professionals can enjoy discounts on the latest and most relevant technical information available. And, seasoned professionals can find the professional development courses to keep their skills current and cutting-edge.

All members enjoy discounts on technical literature and subscription to at least one of SAE’s technical magazines.

Klavon is relentless on ensuring SAE members receive maximum value for their dues dollars.

“Continually adding value for members is a prime objective for SAE. The success of our organization depends on it,” he said. “Adding value is something that always will be done, whether it’s through small changes or, as is the case now, large transformations to the core of the organization’s existence—membership.”

Launched in April 2010, SAE's membership model will have more enhancements and features added throughout the year to provide even greater value to members.

These include a new, members-only website called EngineerXchange. The site will allow SAE members to easily communicate with members around the world; post messages on their profile pages; join online groups; submit content and suggestions for future content to SAE; view and comment on industry and engineering information; and participate in blogs, surveys, and polls.

Also, a new members-rewards program is being developed to further maximize the benefits enjoyed by the most engaged SAE members.

Separate from the membership model but nonetheless important for engineering professionals is a new Virtual Career Fair from SAE that offers unemployed members, as well as members looking for a career change, the opportunity to review openings, all through the ease and anonymity of online service.

Again, the common thread among all of the changes in SAE’s membership structure is value for mobility-engineering professionals.

“We recognize that our members make difficult choices every day in their professional lives,” Klavon said. “We built this new model with that in mind. We offer choices and benefits that make sense to today’s engineering professional."

I invite everyone to take a look at our new membership model by visiting I’m convinced that you will find the value that you need to better do your jobs.

David L. Schutt, SAE Chief Executive Officer

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