Chairing the ASQ Statistics Division: Promoting Excellence in Statistics

Now more than six months into his role as Chair of the American Society for Quality’s Statistics Division, Minitab’s Joel Smith sat down with us to share more about the group.

Joel Smith, Minitab statistician and senior business development representative, has been a member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Statistics Division for the past several years, and last calendar year he served as Chair-Elect in preparation for his role as Chair in 2014.

As current Chair of the division, which was founded in 1979 and includes more than 4,000 ASQ members, Smith is responsible for organizing meetings with volunteers and fellow officers to ensure the group meets its goals.

The group’s official mission is to “support members in fulfilling their professional needs and aspirations in the application of statistics and development of techniques to improve quality and performance.”

“One of our main goals is to accommodate a broad range of practitioners with varying levels of statistical know-how,” Smith says. “Our members range from degreed statisticians to certified quality engineers, from Green Belts to Master Black Belts, and everyone in between.”

To support its member base, the ASQ Statistics Division provides regular e-newsletters and webinars on relevant statistical topics, as well as offering special publications, a glossary and tables for statistical quality control, a blog on statistical thinking, and short courses and workshops.

In addition, along with three other professional societies, the division sponsors the annual Fall Technical Conference each October. Sponsoring this event fits well with the division’s mission.

The conference’s goal is to engage statistical researchers and practitioners in discussion in order to bring innovations in statistical methodologies and quality to the forefront. The division often invites speakers from the Fall Technical Conference to present webinars on their talks to help keep members current on trends in the field.

“We sponsor the Fall Technical Conference because we want to support our more technical member base in continuing their statistical research, so we continue to get new and better methods,” says Smith. “But we also strive to provide resources that help the basic-level practitioner. Whether the webinars are already accomplishing this, or if we need to develop other resources to serve these members, we continually assess that what we’re providing is helpful to the various members of the division.”

Given that we’re talking about the ASQ Statistics Division, it seems obligatory to offer a few statistics on the division’s members. Smith, who is a statistician at his core, happily rounded up some stats on the group’s members:

Of the American Society for Quality’s more than 100,000 members, about 4 percent are members of the ASQ Statistics Division.

Senior members of ASQ, who must be a member of ASQ for at least one year and have 10 years of professional experience, make up over half of current ASQ Statistics Division membership.

Of all ASQ members, only 600 are ASQ Fellows—members who have been senior members for at least five years and have been nominated and are able to demonstrate at least 15 years of experience in quality-related positions. More than 20 percent of the 600 ASQ Fellows are also members of the ASQ Statistics Division.

Honorary Members are ASQ’s highest grade of membership, and include the likes of Walter Shewart, who is known as the father of statistical quality control, as well as quality improvement experts Joseph Juran and W. Edwards Deming. Of the 25 Honorary Members in the history of ASQ, at least 18 of them are known for their work in the field of statistics. While these Honorary Members weren’t necessarily members of the ASQ Statistics Division (which has only been around since 1979), it’s fair to say that as you move higher and higher into the levels of membership with ASQ, it becomes much more likely for those members to also be a member of the Statistics Division or to be involved in statistics in some way.

Although Smith’s role as Chair with ASQ Statistics Division will be over at the end of the year, he’ll continue to serve the division and encourages others in the field to join him.

“My membership with the ASQ Stats Division has given me opportunities to talk with peers in the industry whom I ordinarily wouldn’t have interacted with,” Smith says. “It’s really been invaluable for keeping up with field of statistics, and keeping current on where quality is and how statistics are being used—and where the challenges are.”

To learn more about the ASQ Statistics Division and how you can become a member, visit

The group also encourages people to visit their YouTube Channel at for access to on-demand webinars and videos on a broad range of topics, including Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Design of Experiments (DOE). 

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