Basalt.Today: Can you tell us in a few words about your background and how you got into composites?
Gregg Balko: My entire work experience has had an educational connection. After university, I was a classroom teacher. I left the classroom to work for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). There, my focus group was CAD/CAM and how it integrated into the factory of the future. (Mind you, this was a long time ago.) After SME, I worked at a television marketing and design association. In that association, I had the opportunity to launch conferences in both Europe and Asia. That experience was beneficial when I joined SAMPE. I am not an engineer but rather a person who has had a role in the education of engineers.
Basalt.Today: SAMPE is an organization recognized worldwide. You must be very proud to have been part of this organisation?
G.B.: All of us at SAMPE are pleased to have been part of creating this global brand that is so highly regarded. This reputation was developed by our SAMPE members who gave and continue to give back to the advanced materials community.
Basalt.Today: What were the major projects you conducted at the head of SAMPE?
G.B.: One project that has served SAMPE well was the transition from SAMPE International to SAMPE Global. Creating the global structure was instrumental in helping all SAMPE members to feel they had a role at all levels SAMPE, whether in their local chapter or on a global platform.
Basalt.Today: What would you like to do that you did not have time to undertake?
G.B.: There is never enough time to accomplish all that one wants to accomplish. This very minute, the biggest challenge is how do we keep our members, our customers and our exhibitors connected when the situation is such that does not allow us to gather in person? And, with whatever solution we may create, how do we monetize it when we may or may not have an exhibition?
Basalt.Today: SAMPE and JEC have always had good relationships. What was your motivation in your relations with other major players in the composites sector?
G.B.: I have always believed that no one company or one association has all of the answers. Likewise, we can all learn and benefit from each other.
Basalt.Today: What is your best memory of all these years spent in composites?
G.B.: I am certain this is not the best memory but one of the most vivid was being at the JEC show in 2010 when the Icelandic volcano erupted and some/many of us could not get back to our homes for a week. I really enjoy Paris; however, being told we could not leave Paris was a real test.
On a more positive note, I am so impressed by the commitment SAMPE members (and others) have to this industry. It is impressive to see composites engineers who have contributed and participated in both SAMPE and JEC events for decades.
Basalt.Today: The situation we are experiencing is very exceptional. How do you see the future of composites in the coming months and what new roles can they play?
G.B.: During challenging times, creative and resilient people rise to the top. Composites were created by creative engineers. There are no limits on what composites can do for manufacturing or the role they can play in our lives. Yes, the viral challenges that have upset our daily life are real. Creative engineers will have an answer and I, for one, am excited to see what develops.
Basalt.Today: Do you have a few words to address directly to the composite community before leaving?
G.B.: In this community, there are so many very, very smart people. There is little I could share that would be impactful. It is difficult to believe it has been 16 years. I leave SAMPE and the composites community grateful and appreciative of the opportunity I have had to be part of your world.
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