SMDI Readies for Great Designs in Steel 2019

On May 15, we will raise the curtain on the 2019 edition of Great Designs in Steel, the Steel Market Development Institute’s annual showcase event where we bring together automotive OEMs, steel companies and suppliers from around the world to see the newest offerings in steel technology and give attendees the opportunity to network with the very best this industry has to offer.

What started as a small event attended by a few hundred people, created for the sole purpose of releasing the results of a WorldAutoSteel lightweighting project, has turned into a destination event that contains multiple tracks and is attended by more than 1,300 people from around the globe.

We hear from attendees every year that they would gladly pay money to attend this free event, which leads us to believe we must be doing something right if companies are willing to put some of their budget toward sending their engineers to this event to reap the benefits.  (Don’t worry, GDIS will always be free to attend.)

This year’s event will include 25 state-of-the-art displays and more than 30 technical presentations that will provide valuable insight on the latest trends and applications in new cars and trucks from engineering, design, technology and academic leaders. The all-day, multi-track program will feature industry discussions that focus on advanced high-strength steels, automotive design, and manufacturing technologies. All the while, the focus will remain centered on the performance, value and sustainability benefits of steel in automotive applications.

Kicking off the event this year will be a keynote presentation by Antonio Vittorini of General Motors. Antonio is GM’s director and global BOM leader, body structures. He’ll be followed by Kirk Reich, president and COO of AK Steel. Each of them will have interesting insight into this industry to share with the audience.

Returning to serve as MC for this year’s edition of GDIS will be Andrew Humphrey from WDIV-TV in Detroit. Some of you may know Andrew’s face as the local weatherman. But when he’s not keeping us updated on impending weather, he is also the host of Tech Time, a regular segment that focuses on science and technology. With his background in the sciences, Andrew has been the perfect host for the past two years, and we are excited to follow along with all of the attendees again this year.

As I said, this is a multi-track event. Three, to be exact.

In addition to our partner companies, like AK Steel, Nucor Corporation and ArcelorMittal, presenting, we have speakers talking about everything from what the newest grades of steel can deliver, to how to stamp steel into required shapes, to new advancements in laser cutting. And, for a lot of our attendees, this is the first time they will hear this information, which gives them added incentive to attend the event.

As our event has grown in popularity, so, too, have the speaking opportunities. We receive dozens of abstracts each year, then whittle them down until we have a broad range of topics that give our audience the best information possible. The fact that we have to turn away speakers leads us to believe this is a sought-after opportunity.

It’s my belief that if you really want to get the most out of a conference, you should serve as a presenter or speaker. If you share what you know, you’re more likely to be approached by other people and exchange information with them. That is how you can measure, for lack of a better term, the value of an event. Not to mention that for this event specifically, you can earn face time with your target audience, which is never a bad thing.

If you work in the steel industry, you know it’s always shifting and evolving. Events like Great Designs in Steel allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and gain a better sense of the trends that are going to shape the next few years. When we set out to create this event, we couldn’t have imagined how large and influential it was going to become. But we embrace the expectations that our attendees have come to bestow upon us over many successful years.

If you haven’t registered to attend, there is still time. Registration closes on May 10. To register, head on over to and sign up.

This event is truly a labor of love for my team and we are excited to welcome you this year. We hope you walk away with a greater understanding of the issues that will affect your day-to-day work in the coming months and years, as well as gain an appreciation for what is being done by your colleagues.

We look forward to seeing you on May 15!

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