Next month we will have the first virtual ASEM International Annual Conference (IAC) and it promises to be packed with many high-quality technical presentations that we usually expect to hear at ASEM’s annual technical meeting. We also have a series of excellent panel sessions, workshops and other sessions, and the conference will be kicked off by the award of the Engineering Manager of the Year. I would like to encourage you to register for this exciting event if you have not yet done so.
Over the last several months, we have all been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is the reason we are holding a virtual conference this year and not the usual the face-to-face conference. Holding a virtual conference is one example of how we have all had to change the way we work and live in the wake of the pandemic. Such changes have included the need to ‘social distance’ and many of us have been working at home during lockdown periods that have taken place. We should now all be experts in attending virtual meetings on the various online meeting platforms that have become part of our daily working lives – although how often do we still have to say to someone: “You need to turn your mic on”. I have to admit this does include myself as I have also forgotten to unmute myself at least a few times during meetings.
Changed working patterns have only been part of this period. An inability to meet for face to face interactions means that we don’t necessarily have the same level of social interactions with work colleagues, fellow students and other peers that we usually interact with. In order to avoid becoming isolated it is now even more important that we find time to reach out to colleagues in the workplace, other students as well as friends and family members so that we remain connected – albeit virtually. During this recent period, we have needed to be flexible and adaptable to change; in many cases changing our usual pattern of working and studying through adopting a new approach. In this context we need to be resilient and steadfast in our underlying beliefs to ensure we maintain our focus not just on the ‘here and now’ but also on our eventual goals that we want to achieve.
Over the last several months there have also been certain events that have taken place, which have brought to our attention the need to maintain equality and respect for all. To this end, we have released a new ‘ASEM Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Statement’ that sits alongside the existing ‘ASEM Code of Ethics’. We have also recently released a new ‘ASEM Code of Conduct for Meetings’. ASEM is committed to maintaining equal opportunities and participation for all, irrespective of their background or characteristics. While such policies and commitments are clearly important, we know that across wider society there remains much that is still to be done and we should all be vigilant in this regard.
In this newsletter I would like to thank all the members of the Society and the members of the Board of Directors for their support over the last year while I have been President of ASEM, which has been an honour that I have enjoyed tremendously. I would like to thank Gene Dixon (Executive Director) and Angie Cornelius (Operations Director) from the ASEM Headquarters for all their hard work and support as well as Paul Kauffmann (Associate Executive Director) who has provided outstanding service to the Society in various roles over
the last several years. I would like to thank Greg Sedrick (Secretary) and Ruwen Qin (Treasurer) for their excellent work over the last year. I would also like to thank Suzie Long who will be soon be completing her service as Past President for her dedication and hard work for ASEM. Finally, I would like to thank Jim Schreiner (President Elect) for his excellent work on leading our planning for the virtual IAC and wish him every success in his forthcoming tenure as President of ASEM.
Dr. Simon Philbin