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Message from Incoming SPES Chair

1 January 2017 26 views No Comment
James Wendelberger

    SPES has been around for a long time, since 1954 to be exact. I take no credit for its formation, but I was born before it was formed. Since the formation, there have been many transitions in both statistics and application areas. These transitions have brought about challenges for our section.

    One of our biggest challenges is the loss of membership. I believe this is primarily due to the proliferation of ASA sections. This is a transition in the field of statistics: emphasis on specific methodologies and in specific application areas. The focus of these other sections continues to be subfields or submethodologies of SPES. I think it unlikely that more people will abandon their membership in these competing sections; however, SPES could become their “home” section.

    I began my career working in meteorology, followed by the automotive sector, then into the retail sector and most recently into the nuclear arena. I am currently working on transitioning into the nano-science area. According to Russel Lenth in his July 2010 message from the chair, this makes me a “re-nouned” statistician. This qualifies me to speak about transitions in our section.

    One staple in my application area transitions has been SPES. Yes, I have and continue to make forays into other sections, but SPES has been my home base. I could have joined or created other sections to account for my broad career interests. In fact, I did join other sections through the years. However, I did not create a spline-smoothing, nano-science, automotive, meteorology, or retail section. Instead, I focused on the applications and used existing ASA sections.

    SPES does not only cover the obvious physical and engineering sciences. It also covers less obvious fields such as the social sciences, business, and marketing. The methods used in these fields are often proven in physical science situations where the “truth” may be known.

    Why do I bring this up? Because SPES should be able to increase its membership by taking advantage of SPES subsuming most, if not all, of the other ASA sections. Let us take advantage of this dilution, rather than sit passively by while other sections bleed off our members.

    There are many ways we can take advantage of SPES being a “super set” section, including partnering with other sections on JSM sponsored talks and roundtables, allowing other sections to take advantage of our famously successful JSM mixer, making our Marquardt speaker program better known, and promoting our various awards.

    Let us all pursue these courses of action in the coming year and help to increase the Section on Physical and Engineering Sciences’ membership.

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