Papers Please!

If you receive the AGMA e-mails you already know that the annual call for Fall Technical Meeting [FTM] papers concludes today on January 15th. Unless you already have something in process, you will need to wait until 2022 to answer that call. Over the life of this blog, I have made the case for why you should participate in this important activity. Consider this my final appeal on the matter.

Prior to the Internet putting all the knowledge in the world on every cell phone in the world, technical information came from text books or academic treatises. Each industry or scientific discipline had an “official” publication where advances were touted through a “paper” and subsequently debated in later issues. They make for fascinating reading as not every “improvement” agreed with the collected experience.

Gear Technology came into being as a modern day version of those “official” publications. Prior to its founding, if you were not an AGMA member or a participant at an FTM, it was very difficult to stay “current” on the gear trade. Even big companies only sent a few representatives to the event and the copies of papers they brought back circulated quite slowly. If you were working on a project, you were lucky if someone allowed you to read their copy. Mr. Michael Goldstein took a considerable risk in starting a magazine to “democratize” the flow of gear information, and it is only fitting that his name adorns the on-line archive.

With so much “content” available, why do I encourage you to submit your own paper to FTM? From a technical standpoint, your experience matters. Just as back in the old days of dueling letters-to-the-editor, you may disagree with something previously published. You may have a new and unique understanding of a topic that would benefit others.

I will not try to convince you that writing a paper is fun or easy. It takes time, it exposes you to criticism, it requires discipline to cover a topic in a professional manner. Instead, I prefer to talk about what you will personally get from becoming an author and presenter.

Only a small percentage of gear designers and engineers EVER present at FTM. By joining this group, you mark yourself as a serious person devoted to the advancement of our trade. Unlike an “Internet influencer,” your work will not be a passing fad, forgotten when the next “new” thing distracts the audience. Most papers get re-printed in our magazine. Some get translated and shared around the world. One of my papers was featured in an Italian technical magazine.

You will not get paid “per click,” but your “catalog” will open doors for you and start valuable conversations. Over a ten-year period, I wrote and presented four FTM papers. The first was as an employee, the next three as a self-employed consulting engineer. Was it scary, putting myself out there? You bet it was! Some of the criticism stung; most comments were very supportive. The question-and-answer periods that are part of the FTM format, unfortunately, do not get transcribed for publication, so “you had to be there” to appreciate the discussion.

Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat! If you have something to add to our collective understanding of gears, please share it. Have an idea but need coaching on developing it into a cogent manuscript? We can find you a mentor. AGMA does not select papers based on pedigree. Your ideas matter more than your diplomas. (If you have an article to contribute, or would like to receive some editorial guidelines, contact Senior Editor Jack McGuinn (mcguinn@agma.org) and he will work with you on anything you need in getting your paper published in either Gear Technology or Power Transmission Engineering magazine.) 

Additional FTM references:

Gearbox Field Performance From a Rebuilder’s Perspective – May-June 2001 (geartechnology.com)

https://www.powertransmission.com/articles/0415/High_Contact_Ratio_Gearing:_A_Technology_Ready_for_Implementation/

https://members.agma.org/ItemDetail?iProductCode=09FTM19&Category=TECH%20PAPER

10FTM09 (agma.org)

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.