Joining Forces: SMTA and the SMART Group in Europe


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I was happy to sit down with SMTA Executive Director Tanya Martin at SMTAI recently, to discuss current events within the association, and some interesting news about an upcoming merger. Also joining the discussion was Keith Bryant, Global Director of Sales for YXLON International and Chairman of the SMART Group.  

Patty Goldman: Well, Tanya, SMTA International is one heck of an event this year, isn't it?

Tanya Martin: Indeed, this is one of our best years in terms of attendee registration for the technical sessions in the conference as well as on the expo floor. We are happy to say that we expanded the show floor to accommodate the growing amount of equipment being showcased as well as additional booth space. It's been an exciting year.

Goldman: And the conference rooms seem to be pretty much filled plus there were five technical tracks on some of the days.

Martin: It's fantastic to be facilitating the sharing of research and solutions between so many people. We are seeing increased attendance in the technical sessions, some sitting shoulder to shoulder. SMTAI officially starts on Sunday each year. This year we had 20 workshops that offered a variety of topics for different experience levels. Monday hosts our popular Technical Innovations and Harsh Environments programs as well as our expanding Women’s Leadership Program. Tuesday and Wednesday have five full technical tracks running concurrently. We will close the conference with our largest Thursday program ever that includes four concurrent tracks with two consortium sessions.

Goldman: I understand you have some news you would like to share. What’s happening?

Martin: We have some new initiatives that we are putting into place. The Board of Directors, Headquarters, and our chapter leaders have really come together to focus on more strategic engagement. We are really trying to attract and include younger professionals, the future leaders of our industry, as well as students, both individually and those in SMTA student chapters. You also may have noticed this past year that we changed our tagline to "A Global Association Working on a Local Level." We are really trying to emphasize this and put actions to it. It's our local chapters that are going out and expanding the mission to the professionals in their area. We understand that people don't always have the time, company approval or travel budgets to attend the bigger conferences, like SMTA International, and need resources and training brought to them.

Goldman: You always had chapters around the world, right?

Martin: Correct. Not only are we exploring additional chapter growth globally, we are putting more focus into finding new ways for existing chapters to increase their reach—paying attention to the specific needs in each region and addressing the different technical disciplines that are local to each area.

Goldman: That's all good news. Is there more?

Martin: We were excited to announce in early September that the SMART Group will be merging into SMTA to create SMTA Europe. SMART has been serving the UK/European market since the mid-1980s and running successfully under the leadership of Keith Bryant and Bob Willis. We are delighted to increase our presence throughout Europe and serve the local electronics manufacturing market through the SMTA mission.

Goldman: What is the SMART Group?

Martin: SMART Group is an organization very similar to SMTA and actually started at around the same time as SMTA. We are aligned in our values and mission to bring educational opportunities to the local community and sharing of technical knowledge.

Goldman: They are a European organization then?

Martin: Yes, so new and renewing members will become the charter members of SMTA Europe.

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