Inaugural THE BIG M showcased future of advanced manufacturing.

Press Release Summary:

SME's manufacturing event, THE BIG M, saw thousands of attendees, hundreds of conference sessions, and collaboration among 20+ partners. During this inaugural event, opportunities were available to manufacturing companies, professionals, leaders, and policymakers had opportunity to experience latest technologies, have industry-related conversations, and team up on initiatives. Highlights included AMP 2.0 national meeting and keynote by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Original Press Release:

SME's Inaugural THE BIG M Event Attracted Thousands, Showcased Future of Advanced Manufacturing

Key highlights included AMP 2.0 national meeting, keynote by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, new technology and workforce development conversations

(DEARBORN, Mich.) — SME’s THE BIG M, a manufacturing event held June 9-12 in Detroit, saw great success in its launch, with thousands of attendees, hundreds of conference sessions and collaboration among more than 20 partners. This inaugural event provided an optimal venue for manufacturing companies, professionals, leaders and policymakers to experience the latest technologies, have important industry-related conversations and team up on initiatives.

Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

“THE BIG M brought together many key players from the manufacturing community to discuss innovation, policy and other critical topics in the industry,” said Debbie Holton, managing director of industry strategy and events for SME. “THE BIG M exceeded our expectations; the feedback from attendees, exhibitors and speakers has been consistently positive. We continue to hear about the new connections and partnerships that occurred at the event, as well as excitement for THE BIG M 2015.”

Key leaders and decision makers in manufacturing supported and attended THE BIG M, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who served as the keynote speaker.

“It was an honor to speak at THE BIG M convergence with engineers, business leaders and investors who are moving American manufacturing forward. We all need to work together to maintain America’s global competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The renaissance in American manufacturing is underway, and we must do all we can to maximize and accelerate the trend to ensure America’s long-term prosperity. At THE BIG M, I announced M.Lab21 — a new initiative that aims to connect manufacturers directly with schools and give teachers the tools needed to get students excited about a career in manufacturing.”

“On Manufacturing Day — an annual event on the first Friday of October — I encourage all local companies to open their doors and host factory tours for students to see what modern manufacturing is really like. These and other efforts will help more Americans benefit from good-paying manufacturing jobs that help ensure their economic security, our nation’s global leadership and prove to the world that the 21st century will be another ‘Made-in-America’ century,” said Pritzker.

Event Statistics

THE BIG M convened 14 co-located events and had 6,269 total attendees, 60 percent of whom came from the Great Lakes region. Conference sessions alone drew 1,999 attendees. More than 2,500 attendees came from outside the region and were drawn to Detroit to meet 232 exhibitors and explore leading emerging manufacturing technologies — including advanced materials, rapid/additive manufacturing, automated manufacturing, research and development, and tooling — as well as the city’s role in manufacturing’s renaissance throughout the country.

The event drew diversified industries such as automotive, engineering, industrial and commercial machining, and aircraft and aerospace. Nearly 50 percent of attendees were owners, executives, product designers or research and development professionals. Their involvement in THE BIG M stimulated partnerships and collaborations that will result in additional exposure for the region and continued growth in the manufacturing sector.

For more statistics about the event, view THE BIG M 2014 Post Show Report here.

Exhibitor Feedback

BIG M Exhibit Floor

As THE BIG M was a new SME event in 2014, companies may have exhibited at other SME events, or had their first SME experience at this inaugural event. The common theme was that they were pleased with the attendance and opportunities. Many companies, including Trilogiq and Saline Lectronics, have committed to exhibiting at next year’s event, returning to Cobo Center June 2-4, 2015.

Jason Bullard, sales representative, Trilogiq USA: “Our experience at THE BIG M was almost overwhelming. I was astounded by the amount of foot traffic that we had coming through the booth. We were two or three people deep at times. It was very exciting.”

Davina McDonnell, director of marketing, Saline Lectronics Inc.: “We heard a lot of buzz about THE BIG M, and we thought it was a great opportunity to bring together different conferences and really invigorate manufacturing in Detroit. So many years ago Detroit was the mecca of manufacturing. To think that [manufacturing’s going through this revitalization in the Midwest, in Michigan, is awesome, and we wanted to be a part of it.”

View exhibitor video testimonials here.

Attendee at BIG M 2014 

M | Exchange and Innovation Factories

Two key areas of THE BIG M focused on connecting people and technology were the M | Exchange and the Innovation Factories. The M | Exchange was located in the center of the exhibit space and served as an area for key event activities, including panels, presentations and networking. Similarly, the Innovation Factories on the exhibit floor featured interactive displays on advanced manufacturing technologies such as modeling, simulation and visualization (MSV), cybersecurity, additive manufacturing/3D printing, and advanced materials and lightweighting.

2014 International Awards Gala

On June 9, SME honored seven individuals during its 2014 International Awards Gala at Cobo Center in Detroit. For 58 years, SME’s Awards & Recognition Program has been acknowledging practitioners and researchers for their achievements in manufacturing technologies, processes, technical writing, education, research, management and service to SME. Learn more about the winners and the program here. 

Co-located Events

THE BIG M served as an umbrella to several other manufacturing-related events, including:

SME’s RAPID Conference & Exposition.

2014 International Manufacturing Research Conference (including NAMRC, MSEC and ICM&P).

Wu Symposium on Manufacturing Competitiveness.

ISA Cybersecurity Conference.

MMTC Proud to Manufacture in Michigan Conference.

Great Lakes Manufacturing Council Manufacturing Forum.

Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 National Meeting.

Automation Alley Summer Member Networking Event.

Detroit Economic Club Luncheon – De-globalization: Retooling Global Operations for Strategic Advantage.

Society of Women Engineers and Women in Manufacturing Luncheon and Best Practices Panel. 

BIG M - Cobo Hall - Detroit

THE BIG M Partners and Sponsors

Sponsors played an important role in THE BIG M, as they invested time and resources to the conference. The 2014 sponsors included Autodesk, Automation Alley, Dell Inc., The Dow Chemical Co., Fives, GE, Kelly Engineering Resources, Merrill Institute, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Saline Lectronics.

Nigel Francis, senior vice president, automotive office of the MEDC: “It was our great pleasure to work closely with the SME team as a major sponsor and advisor for THE BIG M. The event was highly successful in that it convened the minds of the advanced manufacturing sector in one place for them to share and together create our future via innovation in manufacturing technology and processes.”

Rich Wells, vice president of operations, Canada/U.S. North and site director of Michigan at The Dow Chemical Co.: “Dow’s participation in THE BIG M was a win-win for the company. This event allowed us to learn from and share our successes from companies outside of our traditional peer group. The issues facing the 21st century manufacturer are common across all of our industries, and coming together at THE BIG M will allow Dow to progress at an even faster pace.”

About SME

SME connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world. As a nonprofit organization, SME has served practitioners, companies, educators, government and communities across the manufacturing spectrum for more than 80 years. Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training and development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to advancing manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skill needs for industry. Follow @sme_mfg on Twitter or

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