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
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
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
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 http://asq.org/statistics/.
The group also encourages people to visit their YouTube
Channel at https://www.youtube.com/ASQStatsDivision/
for access to on-demand webinars and videos on a broad range of topics,
including Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Design of Experiments (DOE).