The Student Shop Managers Consortium (SSMC) was formed in 2017 to provide an organization and a community of practice for academic shop professionals and associates with a mission to foster cooperation, information sharing, and the advancement of making in higher education. The SSMC is effectively a merger of two parallel efforts, the Society of Academic Workshops (SAW) and the Student Shop Managers Conference (SSMC).
The Society of Academic Workshops (SAW) got its start when Kevin Groenke (UofMN, College of Design) and Ted Wong (University of Miami-Ohio) crossed paths in 1998 and realized that they had a lot in common and could benefit from sharing experiences and perspectives. The chance meeting resulted in an exchange of emails and seeking out others to add to an ever growing cc list. SAW members met informally at the annual conference of the Furniture Society from 2002 to the present. A Yahoo! group was formed in 2003 and through word-of-mouth and active outreach, membership grew in numbers and disciplinary diversity. When SAW members learned of the first SSMC conference in 2015 many decided to attend. The SAW Yahoo! group members and archives were migrated to the current myssmc group.io platform in July 2018; 330+ members are currently registered and over 100 unique individuals posted nearly 900 messages in the past 12 months.
The Student Shop Managers Conference originated in July 2014 on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Steven Earp, Student Shop Manager for Pratt School of Engineering, envisioned providing a forum in which national colleges and universities could form a network of machine shop managers whose sole purpose would be to provide and implement increased awareness of shop safety. Inspired and deeply moved by the untimely and tragic death of Yale student, Michele Dufault, Steven set out to seek individuals working directly with students who desired to be a part of a conference that would provide a web of support and mentorship, while focusing on sharing the collective wealth of safety experience that exists within its membership.
Steven spent several years researching the existence of groups that maintained this focus. He began calling colleges and universities nationwide to pursue the depth of interest in this type of conference. There were many positive responses and the decision was made to form the first national safety conference of its kind. The three day conference, held July 7-9, 2015, included 70 managers, EH&S representatives, and vendors whose common goal was to discover best practices and safety procedures from fellow
An earnest desire to prevent student/staff injuries and fatalities from ever occurring again was the primary focus of presenters and attendees. Discussion panels were an integral part of the agenda. Consideration was made in promoting the conference nationally or joining with an existing organization. National colleges and universities agreed to host the conference over the next few years, a board of directors was formed and the SSMC, Student Shop Managers Consortium, was established.