A change in the wind

Long-time CW staff depart, new faces emerge.

When I joined CompositesWorld as editor-in-chief in the fall of 2006, I was coming off of a 10-year stint as editor and eventually publisher of a trade publication that served the injection molding industry. As I transitioned to my new job at CW, I anticipated some modest crossover in materials and manufacturing concepts between injection molding and composites. Both industries are polymer-based, and there are principles of robust injection molding manufacturing that, I assumed, must have application in composites manufacturing as well.

My assumptions, of course, turned out to be wrong. Injection molding is a machinery-intensive, fast-cycle process that uses thermoplastics almost exclusively. The name of the game is speed (measured in seconds), consistency, repeatability and tight, highly automated process control. In composites, I discovered a vast and complex world composed of multiple fiber types, fiber formats, resin types, tooling types and process types. And although machinery is important in composites fabrication, it is not the centerpiece of fabrication. Further, the highly engineered, multi-ply, quasi-isotropic nature of composites manufacturing depends, in many cases, on touch labor of the type that would be unheard of in injection molding. 

So, in short, I had a learning curve to ride when I became editor-in-chief. And to climb that curve, I needed help. I wisely turned to the folks who were already here at CW, namely managing editor Mike Musselman and senior editor Sara Black. Both were knee-deep in composites and had a wealth of institutional and industry knowledge under their belts. 

Mike, as managing editor, was responsible for the day-to-day management of all editorial functions. His was a name you might not have seen often in the magazine, but his presence was keenly felt in every issue. His editing pen was the first to touch all content generated by staff writers and contributors and he was famous for the breadth and depth of his composites manufacturing knowledge. Further, he was able to bring clarity to complex, highly technical stories, ideas and concepts that seemed, at times, impossible to sort out. I leaned on Mike heavily to help guide me through the maze of suppliers, converters, fabricators and technologies. And as I came up to speed, I leaned on him further to help me develop and organize the editorial content that was, and still is, the backbone of CW’s mission.

Sara Black, as senior editor, is someone you likely know by name, and possibly have met. She has been the eyes and ears of CW since 1999, representing us at trade shows, conferences and plant tours. She has authored, each year, at least 12 features or major articles, covering everything from the design of wind blades to the fabrication of fuselage skins. She was unfailingly kind and patient in helping me get to know the industry and continued to be my right hand — the person who, I knew, could always be trusted to produce content that was well-researched, well-written and highly respected by our audience. And in the industry, you will not find a single person who did not know Sara as uncommonly kind, thoughtful, interested, curious and generous. 

I say all of this because Sara is retiring at the end of February, and Mike departed CW in late 2018. They deserve my many thanks for their service, and recognition by all of our readers for helping make CW the quality publication that it is. I wish them both much happiness.

Of course, Mike and Sara’s departure provided us the chance to bring new people into the CW fold, so there are two new names for you to get used to. The first, Scott Francis, was hired in early 2018 to be our digital editor, and he has done a great job of helping make our digital content (newsletters, website, social media) as robust and engaging as it ever has been. Scott will now transition to senior editor, taking over Sara’s role, and I have every confidence that he will fill her shoes ably.

Taking Mike’s place is Hannah Mason, and she has quickly and ably taken on the task of not only managing all of our editorial content (as well as the editors and writers who produce it), but learning about the complex world of composites manufacturing. Hannah is off to a wonderful start and I expect that her imprint will be as keenly felt at CW as Mike’s was.