EXCLUSIVE: SOUTH-TEC® – Showcasing Smart Manufacturing, Advanced Technologies, Workforce Development and More to Address Industry Challenges


SOUTH-TEC®, a Southeastern U.S. advanced manufacturing biennial event, produced by SME and AMT, drew more than 5,531 attendees and 435 exhibiting companies in 2015. This year, SOUTH-TEC®, will be held at the TD Convention Center, Greenville, South Carolina, and will bring together manufacturing suppliers, distributors and equipment builders from around the world to showcase the latest technologies and tools to address industry challenges.

TD Convention Center
1 Exposition Drive
Greenville, South Carolina USA
24th-26th October 2017

We caught up with Cathy Kowalewicz, SOUTH-TEC Conference Manager, to learn about this year’s SOUTH-TEC in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Cathy, thank you for your participation. The Southeast United States is emerging as an economic powerhouse with a diversifying base. What makes the region so attractive to globally recognized companies?

Cathy Kowalewicz: The quality of workers in South Carolina is outstanding. They have a highly skilled workforce being trained on emerging advanced technologies at a faster pace than average. Schools and universities support the advanced manufacturing industry by providing education, training and visionary leadership. The hospitable business climate, positive work ethic, customized training, upgrading of workers’ skills, and collaboration within the business community and between government and business are all contributing to the diversification.

AMazing®: As stated in the SOUTH-TEC exhibitor prospectus, SOUTH-TEC 2015 attendance was up 18% over the previous show cycle with 64% new prospects. What interests most attendees? Have you noticed any recent notable manufacturing trends?

Cathy Kowalewicz: Attendee interests are very diverse this year. We’re seeing a greater interest in smart manufacturing and incorporating advanced technologies on the factory floor. Workforce development is another interest that continues to grow. We’ve identified the skills gap – how do we work together to provide the necessary education and training pathways that makes the workforce job ready? Through partner collaborations we now have various competitions, training sessions, and challenges at SOUTH-TEC that are introducing manufacturing in a fun way to our students.

AMazing®: As we understand, Women in Manufacturing will hold their inaugural Women In Automotive Southern Conference alongside SOUTH-TEC. What does the opportunity represent and present to SOUTH-TEC OEMs, suppliers and attendees?

Cathy Kowalewicz: Women in manufacturing are seeing positive changes in the industry’s attitude towards recruiting, retaining, and advancing women over the last five years, and greater improvement is possible. As of July 2017, 3.4 million women were employed in manufacturing, the highest level of women employed in manufacturing since April 2009. More manufacturers are giving women the opportunity to lead by example. By co-locating the WiA Southern Conference with SOUTH-TEC, the events will bring together developmental opportunities for women, joining it with access to advanced manufacturing technology expertise and provides an opportunity for women to connect and promote mentoring and involvement of females in manufacturing.

AMazing®: Many industry insiders expect the global additive manufacturing market to grow significantly in the next few years. How do you envision additive manufacturing, as well as other advanced manufacturing technologies, to influence SOUTH-TEC in the coming years?

Cathy Kowalewicz: Additive manufacturing has, since its beginning, forced new ways of thinking, designing and producing using an entirely new set of tools and ideas. That industry-wide disruption and its resulting advances in knowledge, technology and materials will be on display at SOUTH-TEC.Additive manufacturing is allowing manufacturers to integrate disruptive technologies where additive and subtractive technologies work together. The technology shows how uniquely interconnected manufacturing can be, which makes it easier for manufacturers to try new designs, create and innovate. It’s opening doors to collectively thinking about how we can work together, suppliers and OEMs alike, to enhance productivity, reduce waste, and speed up the process of creating.

AMazing®: Finally, what conference strategies and tips would you suggest to SOUTH-TEC attendees to explore the rich, diverse network of industries to maximize their conference experience? 

Cathy Kowalewicz: New this year, SOUTH-TEC is co-locating with Women in Manufacturing for its inaugural Women in Automotive Southern Conference (Oct. 24) as noted earlier, and SME’s Smart Manufacturing Seminar, Innovations in Composites Manufacturing (Oct. 25). Attendees can experience the co-located events and SOUTH-TEC while exploring ways to support, promote and inspire diversity and inclusion in the manufacturing industry.

Deloitte Services’ Patricia Buckley, managing director of Economic Policy and Analysis, will open the show on Tuesday with a keynote exploring economic trends impacting manufacturers in Southeastern U.S.

Wednesday’s keynote by Scott Geller, CEO, PartWorks, tackles all things 3D – from laser scanning to 3D printing to 3D CAD technologies – and how they can benefit manufacturers today.

Julia Crews, head of training and development for Panasonic Automotive, will take the stage on Thursday to discuss women in manufacturing and how to empower women leaders while bridging the gender gap.

Panel topics on Tuesday and Wednesday include:

  • Smart Manufacturing: The Next Industrial Revolution
  • Workforce Development: Champions of Tomorrow
  • Future of Manufacturing

Don’t forget to stop by the Smart Manufacturing HUB. Technical presentations from industry-leading smart technology providers will provide insight on recent developments in this rapidly evolving field.

This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Cathy for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about this year’s SOUTH-TEC event and continued commitment to advanced manufacturing technology.


Cathy Kowalewicz, SOUTH-TEC Conference Manager (Photo courtesy of SME)

Cathy Kowalewicz, SOUTH-TEC Conference Manager (Photo courtesy of SME)

About Cathy Kowalewicz
Cathy Kowalewicz joined SME in 2011 and is currently the event manager for the HOUSTEX and SOUTH-TEC events. She has over 30 years serving the manufacturing industry, with an extensive background in automotive and heavy vehicles. Cathy is responsible for ensuring that the SME mandate to advance and educate the manufacturing industry is met at every event she produces. Cathy is an active member of the Automotive Womens Alliance Foundation (AWAF).

SOUTH-TEC draws manufacturing supplier, distributors and equipment builder from across North America and around the world-brining them together in Greenville, South Carolina. With hundreds of exhibiting companies, attendees can find all the latest technologies and services – plus the experts who build them – ready to demonstrate solutions that can help them grow their business. Visitors can make side-by-side comparisons, discover integrated equipment, hear about industry trends and forecast and leverage their purchasing power. SOUTH-TEC is the single best source to discover the next evolution of your industry!

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. At SME, we are making the future. Together.

Source: SOUTH-TEC, SME, AMazing

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