By Paul Flemming, AEM Senior Director of Membership and Engagement

Thinking ForwardHelping AEM members prepare for and manage challenges brought on by cutting-edge industry trends is one of AEM’s greatest priorities today.

The launch of the Thinking Forward series of membership events in 2017 served as AEM's most recent effort to keep its members up to date and informed about these trends. It marked a significant shift in focus on the part of the association from member orientation to thought leadership in order to provide a vision for the future of the industry.

The series consisted of eight events held at locations across the country. Among the topics discussed by featured industry leaders and subject matter experts were additive manufacturing, smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT), co-creation and workforce, augmented reality, disrupting markets, Industry 4.0, as well as big data and makerspace development.

Among the many highlights from last year’s events included a stop at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a lesson on the rise of additive manufacturing. The same day, the group in attendance embarked on a tour of the new new Local Motors micro factory to see how the autonomous mini shuttle, Ollie, is being manufactured.  Another exciting event took place at Terex Genie, where D’Arcy Salzmann, Microsoft’s senior director of strategy for the HoloLens project, outlined how mixed reality technology is crossing the threshold from novelty to utility. Later the same day, event attendees traveled over to the Microsoft campus and were able to put on a HoloLens and see how the product could potentially be used in industrial applications. 

Last year's events were well received, and AEM is committed to building on the success of Thinking Forward in 2018. This year, the series of events will include tours of some of the country’s top innovation centers, including the Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh, 3M’s Innovation Center in Minneapolis, and Autodesk’s Gallery and Pier 9 Workshop in San Francisco. As always, Thinking Forward events will explore a wealth of emerging trends and technologies poised to transform the equipment manufacturing industry, and they will provide a unique opportunity to network and interface with other AEM members.

The AEM membership team is excited to get back on the road and connect with members, and it's looking forward to this year's kick-off event  It's set for April 3rd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) – National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Learn more.

To see a full lineup of the exciting AEM Thinking Forward locations and speakers on tap for 2018, visit

Sign up today to attend one of these new and exciting events to help keep your company thinking forward.

Finally, the AEM membership team is always here to help. Please give me a call at any time, 414-298-4150, or email me at

Watch the video below. 

Subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for more information on and coverage of Thinking Forward events.