The Role of Technical Standards for Emerging Professionals

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Seminar Series

James P. Olshefsky
Director, External Relations
ASTM International

Globalization in the marketplace and rapid changes in technology in the 21st century demand that engineers acquire the skills necessary to be immediately effective upon graduation.  In addition to the math and science skills important in engineering curriculum, today’s engineers must be familiar with the mandated federal, state, and local regulations that create the boundaries of their work. 

Within these regulations, standards are technical documents that play an important role in defining specific procedures, rules and guidelines.  Knowledge of standards can also contribute significantly to the bottom line of companies that use engineers to develop new markets for products and help to protect them from litigation.

This presentation will cover how standards are made, how emerging professionals and students can learn more about standards & get involved with the standard making process as professionals, and how standards should be used in the marketplace.


Jim Olshefsky has worked at ASTM International for 18 years supporting the development and promotion of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services.  In 2007, Mr. Olshefsky assumed the role of Director of External Relations where he helps to facilitate ASTM’s international outreach and academic initiatives within ASTM’s Global Cooperation Division.  Mr. Olshefsky is responsible for ASTM’s Memorandum of Understanding program with developing countries and also leads ASTM’s educational outreach initiatives.  His contributions include speaking to international audiences, students, and educators to promote the use of ASTM standards worldwide and to encourage increased standards education at universities. 

Prior to moving to Global Cooperation, he directed ASTM’s Committee Services Department in the Technical Committee Operations Division and also spent several years as a Staff Manager of various ASTM technical committees.  ASTM Headquarters is located in West Conshohocken, PA, just outside of Philadelphia, but he was born and raised in New Cumberland, PA and has a BS in Business Logistics from the Pennsylvania State University.