SEM Student Chapters

As part of our mission, SEM strongly supports and encourages many means to assist young engineers with their careers. The Student Chapter offers an organized vehicle where such assistance can be provided. For the student, it offers one of the best opportunities to learn professional concepts and the obligation of the engineer to society.

In the university environment, a strong SEM Chapter can create an atmosphere in which the challenges and opportunities for engineers in experimental mechanics can be realistically presented and discussed. For SEM, the benefit of our support of Student Chapters is to develop and nurture the future active members and leaders of the Society.

Why Organize a Student Chapter?

Student Chapters are a primary vehicle for organized student activity. SEM encourages the formation of Student Chapters as a means to enable students to access activities that give an understanding of what it means to work within the field of experimental mechanics. The Society and the SEM Education Foundation offer various levels of financial and administrative support. See the discussion on funding for further details.

There are many benefits that Student Chapters can offer to both students and faculty. Here is a list of some of these benefits.

  • Significantly reduced rates for Society membership and conference fees for students. In addition, the Society has reciprocal agreements with other societies such as SPIE, BSSM and JSEM where student members can receive special rates to other conferences.
  • The opportunity for students to develop leadership and organizational skills as officers or committee members.
  • Opportunities for social interaction and exchange of ideas among students, faculty and other SEM members who are professionals in their field. In addition, at the SEM Annual Conference each year the Society sponsors a "Welcome Gathering" for students and SEM members which affords the student an opportunity to meet and talk with many members who are among the acknowledged experts in their fields in the world.
  • The opportunity to publicize chapter activities in Experimental Techniques and on the SEM web site,
  • Each year the SEM Education Foundation sponsors the Student Paper Competition at the SEM Annual Conference. Students from all over the world have the opportunity to submit papers, and if accepted, present these papers at the conference where they are judged by a panel of SEM members. Students whose papers are accepted for presentation receive a small stipend to help defray expenses as well as complimentary conference registration and a complimentary ticket to attend the Awards Luncheon. At the awards luncheon the winners are announced and prizes distributed.
  • The DeMichele Scholarship is available each year to subsidize the expenses for a student in order to attend the IMAC Conference and present a paper.

Potential Activities for Student Chapters

  • Creating interesting programs is a primary task for a chapter. Organizing local or regional symposia is one possible activity. In addition, the chapter can develop a list of subjects of interest to members and work with the Faculty Advisor as well as the SEM Staff to locate people who would be willing to deliver presentations on the topics.
  • Local companies are often an excellent source for activities with the chapter. Whether it be a visit to their facility or a discussion with some of their practicing engineers, they are resources for chapters and allow students to interact with members of industry.
  • Activities which facilitate the interaction among students, faculty and industrial practioners encourage the formation of mentoring partnerships. These relationships can be invaluable for students in their career development.

How do I Organize a Student Chapter?

The steps to take in order to organize a student chapter are:
  1. Identify an SEM Member who will serve as faculty advisor.
  2. Obtain written approval from the institution at which the Chapter will be located.
  3. Identify the student members. It is recommended that a chapter include at least five student members. All members must be or become student members of SEM.
  4. Draft a Constitution for the Chapter. SEM headquarters will be happy to supply an example constitution.
  5. Send the information obtained in steps 1-4 to the Executive Director at SEM.
Upon receipt of the above information the Executive Director will obtain the necessary approval and communicate the result to the applicant.

What Funding is Available?

Funding and other assistance for Student Chapters is available in a number of different forms. Some of these are listed below.
  1. For a new chapter, SEM will supply $75.00 plus $5.00 per member enrolled as start-up funding.
  2. For an existing chapter, SEM will supply, on an annual basis, $2.00 for each student member plus $75.00 upon submission of an annual report of the chapter’s activities by the scheduled date.
  3. The SEM Education Foundation is an additional source of funding for Student Chapters. SEMEF can support such activities as symposia, etc. For full details of how to apply for SEMEF funding, please visit the SEMEF section of
  4. SEM encourages Student Chapters to communicate with headquarters regarding any other needs they might have. SEM has in the past offered support such as free exhibit space at SEM conferences, technical and marketing literature and publicity for chapter activities among other support.

Special Funding Option for Student Chapters Outside of the United States

The society recognizes that the requirement to remit annual dues in US currency can be an impediment to the formation of Student Chapters outside of the United States. Therefore, in place of points 1. and 2. above, the Society offers the following option for Foreign Student Chapters:
  1. The student chapter may collect the appropriate dues amount from each student member in local currency. This money is then retained by the Chapter and used in place of the funding supplied by SEM. Should the chapter disband, any remaining funds become the property of the Society.
  2. The chapter must submit completed membership forms for all student members.
  3. By 15 December of each year, the chapter must submit a report of their activities for the year and a complete accounting of funds received and disbursed. The accounting report may be in local currency. In addition, the chapter must supply a current list of student members. This report should be submitted to the Executive Director of the Society.

Who Can I Contact for Assistance?

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the Executive Director ( at:

7 School Street
Bethel, CT 06801
Tel: (203) 790-6373