Standards Impact

New President Andy Kireta on ASTM’s Future

June 10, 2024 ASTM International Season 2 Episode 5
New President Andy Kireta on ASTM’s Future
Standards Impact
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Standards Impact
New President Andy Kireta on ASTM’s Future
Jun 10, 2024 Season 2 Episode 5
ASTM International

ASTM’s new president Andy Kireta wants to position ASTM for the next 125 years by embracing a vibrant, diverse membership, championing innovation, and guiding students as they build the future. 

Listen as host Dave Walsh talks ultramarathons, Purdue Boilermakers, and the future of ASTM International with its new president.

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Presented by ASTM International

Show Notes Transcript

ASTM’s new president Andy Kireta wants to position ASTM for the next 125 years by embracing a vibrant, diverse membership, championing innovation, and guiding students as they build the future. 

Listen as host Dave Walsh talks ultramarathons, Purdue Boilermakers, and the future of ASTM International with its new president.

Follow Us

Presented by ASTM International

Dave Walsh (00:15):

Well, today we're joined by A STM International's new president Andy Kireta. Kireta comes to ASTM after spending over 30 years with the Copper Development Association, which gives him a great deal of related nonprofit experience. He's also been a member of ASTM for more than 25 years as part of the Copper and Copper Alloys Committee. And it should also be mentioned that he's a proud Purdue Boilermaker, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. So, Andy, thanks for being with us today.

Andy Kireta (00:44):

Hi. You're welcome, Dave. It's great to be here.

Dave Walsh (00:46):

So let's jump in with some of your personal passions or hobbies. It's fairly well known that one of those passions is long distance running, and in fact, you've run ultra marathons in the past, which are, I believe, 50 miles, which is incredible to someone like myself. How has running influenced your personal life and your career? Is it a discipline that you can translate into the real world? How has it shaped your personality and your career?

Andy Kireta (01:09):

It's, uh, definitely a discipline. I can translate into the real world. I'm not sure if it's shaped my personality or my personality has shaped my running, but I've certainly learned a lot of things that I find that really apply across my life. It's really taught me to run the mile that I'm in, which really means you go out and I'm, if I'm gonna run 10 miles or I'm gonna run three miles, or I'm gonna run 50 miles, I can't run the 50th mile before I ran the first mile. That applies all across life, right? It's deal with the problem that's right in front of you today. Don't worry about the problem that may not be there tomorrow. Run the mile that you're in. And that's been very helpful because a lot of the problems that you deal with or a lot of the situations and even opportunities you deal with in everyday life and in business are bigger than a, than something you can make a decision right away.


It's super simple and you're done with it. They're usually very complex, uh, and you have to just break 'em down and, and take the piece that you can and deal with that before you move to the next piece. So, so that's certainly one of the, the lessons and disciplines that running is, uh, have brought to my life and to, to my business as well. The other one that is interesting that a lot of people don't think about is who you run with matters, right? Everyone asks when they usually, if they get me on a a video call, they have have medals from races behind me, and none of those are from winning races. What they are, they're all memories of many, many miles leading up to that race that I spent running and training with other people. And you can put up with some people you don't like for miles, you can't do that for 50 miles <laugh>, you know?


So, um, and so I equate that to life. You know, you choose, you, you tend to choose your friends that way, but it's also important to choose your business relationships that way. It's important to choose the organizations you work for. And having just started with a STM, it certainly is one of the things that brought me to the organization. I've, I've been a member for 26 years. I've known the senior leadership team. I know much of the staff, I know a lot of the members, and just the people that I knew I would get to associate with, I'd be willing to run 50 miles with them, right? So it really is important because, uh, if it isn't after, after a mile or two, they start to get pretty annoying, <laugh>. Um, and then, and then there's, there's other ones, you know, it's, uh, really about persistence and the fact that, especially for folks that, that don't do crazy things like running long distances, it just seems like it's hard.


I can't do that. And it, it's really not. It's, it's all about persistence. It's all about, uh, troubleshooting. It's all about your mindset, and it's all about really controlling what you can't control and not worrying about the other stuff, right? I can't control on any given day if someone's faster than me. If someone can run longer than me, I can't control am I putting the time in. I think I, I need to put in to be where I wanna be, um, to be the best that I can be. And that applies all across life, you know, and everything I've done. So, so yeah, it certainly forms how I approach life in general.

Dave Walsh (04:13):

Well, it's funny because a few things you said there, um, relate directly to the next question I had in mind. You mentioned solutions and solving problems, and you mentioned persistence and having a team. Um, your background in academics was as a mechanical engineer, and in fact, you have a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue. So along those lines, I mean, mechanical engineers solve problems. They, they're persistent, they, they don't give up. They sometimes figuring out the solution takes 50 miles and it's not gonna happen in the first mile. So how did being an engineer, and you can even talk about being a Purdue Boilermaker in particular, I know that's another passion. Uh, how did being an engineer shape your career?

Andy Kireta (04:48):

The biggest thing I learned in engineering school is it's not about do you know the right equations? It's not even about do you know where to find the right information? Really, the most valuable thing I took out of engineering school and becoming a mechanical engineer is that I will never have all of the information to create a perfect solution. You're only ever gonna have partial information, and you have to really approach problems that way. Is what do I know? What do I think I need to know, and where can I get that? But then come to a level of comfort with the fact I'm not gonna know everything, but I have to move forward anyway and either make a decision to create a solution. And so then it all comes down to can I be comfortable with the fact that I am gonna make a decision and it may not be perfect, and I'm gonna do what it takes to move that forward in the direction I think it should go.


Uh, I'm gonna assess the things that I don't know, how much are they gonna impact? That decision is a really big risk. And so, okay, maybe I should slow down and really try to figure that out. Or is it a risk that I can manage, uh, make the decision, create the solution anyway forward? But then the other part is realize that I'm rarely correct a hundred percent of the time, probably in a very correct half of the time. And that has taught me that. Then you just have to be nimble, agile, and willing to accept that fact and be able to adapt. So all of that, out of the four and a half years, it took me to cram four years of education, right? Is really what, uh, the biggest thing I got out of being an engineer. Now, being a boiler maker, uh, that's a, that's a whole different story, right?


I'm super passionate about that. Uh, I'm a Purdue boiler maker. My wife's a boilermaker. My daughters were boilermakers. We've got about 17 people in our immediate family that are boilermakers, either us in-laws, spouses, kids. Um, one of the things that I really love about the university is it has this blue collar feel about it that is, it's all about getting in, doing the hard work and creating relationships. Uh, I, I can't tell you how many times I've traveled across the world, and I'll be in the oddest place. Last time I was in, uh, airline club in Bangkok and someone walks in and I had a Purdue hat on, and, and I get boiler up across the, the room, you know? And so everywhere that you go, I run, I tend to run into another boilermaker and we all share this fondness, uh, for the university and for what we, what we all shared there.


Uh, and then it, it almost gives, it gives each of us this level of credibility that we, we look at like, okay, we know where you went. We know what you did. The other thing I'd say, I would say about that is really how they approached business of higher education over the past 15 years. They, they really made a dedication as to we're gonna give the highest quality of education at reasonable prices, and we're gonna learn to live within that, their budgets, uh, and not just keep going and asking for more and more and more money. Um, a lot of organizations would, would operate much better that way.

Dave Walsh (08:02):

Well, uh, as a dad of two teenagers, you may have just sold me on Purdue because <laugh>, I'm seeing some big price tags out there, so,

Andy Kireta (08:09):

Well, you know what, go ahead and send 'em out and they can come hang out at my tailgate at, on football game

Dave Walsh (08:14):

Mornings, <laugh>. That might be dangerous, but yeah, <laugh>. So a lot of what you just said though, about being a mechanical engineer and the collegiality and the, and the feeling at Purdue, those, those kind of relate a lot to, not just to A STM as an organization, but to managing organizations in general. I mean, you know, you were, you were with the Copper Development Association before you came to A STM and that, you know, that was a big organization to run and now A STM is gonna be a different animal. Your, you're early in your tenure as the A STM president at the moment, but what are some of the differences you anticipate having to navigate in managing A STM versus the CDA in terms of anything, scale structure, that sort of thing.

Andy Kireta (08:54):

The scale's certainly different. Uh, CDA was a much smaller organization, probably revenue wise, about a 10th of the size of A STM and staffing wise, uh, even smaller full-time staff of about 10 people, which is about the size of my senior, uh, leadership staff in A STM. So the scale is very different. And some folks look at that as a big challenge. It's, it's not really, if you think about what I was talking about in running, you know, breaking down the problem and running the mile that you're in it, it's the same thing in terms of scale. You really gotta start at the bottom and realize that success in any organization is really created by the value you can create and the value you can deliver. And that is the same across all these organizations. So in CDA, it was also a membership based organization, but very different 50 members based on a dues heavy structure where members paid, you know, tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to, uh, belong compared to A STM where there's 30,000 members each paying $115 in membership.


So all of them, no matter how much they're paying, what they expect from us as organizations, and for me as a leader of the organization, is to realize that they belong for a reason. They wanna see value, they wanna feel like they're part of the organization. They wanna feel that, that the staff and the organization cares about them, is listening. And it is really there to create impact on their behalf. And the only difference between the two is that when you're relying on members that their dues are 10 to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, when you screw up one membership drop can be financially disastrous. Um, but in the end, the goal is really to be in these organizations is to create value, create value for those members so you can continue to drive the mission forward and drive the organization forward. So it's not that much different.

Dave Walsh (10:53):

Well, one common thread I'm just picking up on in our conversation, whether it's Purdue or the CDA or A STM, is that passion and dedication you mentioned. What are your thoughts on that? I mean, that seems like something that's similar through all three of those institutions that you've discussed here today.

Andy Kireta (11:09):

It is life's too short to be involved in things that you can't be passionate about. Um, you know, if you can't wake up in the morning, if I can't wake up in the morning and be passionate about, I'm gonna go into work today, or I'm gonna, um, you know, when I was in school, Purdue, I'm gonna get up and I'm here as a boiler maker. And if you can't do that, you're in the wrong place. And so, passion's part of that. And one thing I've found, you know, I'm 23 days and to my role as president here at a STM, one thing I've found as I've gone through meeting with staff, meeting with members is we have passion by the boatload all across the board. The other thing about that is that it is all of these organizations, all of these engagements, it really comes down to the people.


One-on-one, those personal interactions, can you get together? Can you support each other? Oh, you're heading in the same direction. And so in the end, whether it's 30,000 people or 10 people, it's the same. It's all about the people. And, and that's one thing I'm, I'm really excited about, about A STM and the, the members and the staff is they are very passionate. They're very committed, and they're very dedicated. You know, it never cease to amaze me, go to one of our technical committee weeks, sit in the, the committee meeting, like in the B five committee from Copper and Copper Allies that I was a, a member of for a long time. And there are folks that are relatively new in their career. And then there's folks that have retired 20 years ago from their career, and they are continuing to participate in A STM standards development because they have friends. 'cause they believe in the organization and the, and the value of the process. And some of them, they've done this for. We have a gentleman on our committee that's 92 years old, right? And, and he's still active and working. So where else can you find that passion?

Dave Walsh (12:57):

Well, you know, you, you touched on it here, but I guess no discussion would be, uh, complete without discussing your, your personal interaction and your personal involvement with A STM over the years. Um, you were a member of the Copper and Copper Alloys Committee B five, um, you held leadership positions along the way in that committee. That's probably where, you know, you see the most passion is in the room in that process where they hash out negatives and decide if they're persuasive or not, that kind of thing. So how did your experience in B five shape your thinking about A STM and and how did it influence your overall outlook and your career?

Andy Kireta (13:31):

To be honest with you, when I first went to a B five meeting back in the mid nineties, I did my best for a couple of years to try not to join, um, <laugh>. And it's because it's a learned process. Uh, so when you walk in any member, and this, I hear this across the board, when you walk into one of those standards development meetings in the technical committee, it's impossible to sit yourself down and just learn it from watching. Right? And so the first couple times there, I was watching it and, and realize I'm not getting anywhere. And as I started to participate more, I became a member. What I found is that it taught me that exactly that to be impactful or even to understand you have to engage, right? But it also taught me equally as I moved along, really the importance of members that have been members for a long time, how important it's to reach out and mentor new or younger or other people that come into the meeting.


And it may be their first time to really sit down and understand that you're not gonna learn this right away, so let me help you out. So it really taught me that value of mentorship. But I think probably one of the biggest things, it taught me the value of how to build consensus and how to create impact. When you don't really have any power, everybody in the room's equal. It's not somebody that works for you or that you work for. Everyone in the room's equal, everyone's voice is equal. So no one comes to a STM just for fun. They come 'cause they're trying to get something to accomplish. If you wanna do that, you've gotta get people on your sides. I had to learn how to make those positions without, you know, these being arguments. These are, let's work together to get to a consensus position and this is what I'm trying to accomplish.


Um, you know, what are you trying to accomplish? Why are you against this? And or why am I opposing you? So not only in that consensus building, but then it also taught me the value of that person to person interaction. Realizing that the person that I am on the other side of the discussion from has motivations. Right? And so it taught me about really the importance of stop and listen, really make that connection. Really have some empathy and try to understand where they're coming from. 'cause once I could do that, we could usually find a way forward together instead of just fighting each other constantly. So it was a, it was a great lesson that I've used all throughout my life and all throughout business, is that it, it's generally better to sit down and try to figure out where each other's coming from, um, to solve a problem.

Dave Walsh (15:57):

You mentioned the A STM standards development process. And I think a lot of people don't understand that that structure that you talked about, that whether you're Microsoft or Google or a person off the street, you both have the same vote, the same power, and that, like you said, a lot of persuasion has to be used. You have to persuade people to your point of view. How valuable do you think that is and is that something that you think sets apart A STM in their process?

Andy Kireta (16:22):

I think it's completely at the heart of what makes ASTMs process the premier process for developing a standard. It is undoubtedly the fact that I can sit down in the room and every single voice in that room has the same weight, right? And that we are welcoming to any voice that wants to participate. Um, doesn't matter where you're geographically, doesn't matter what part of the industry you represent. If you're a manufacturer or a user or you're just interested in the subject, you might not have any horse in the race. You just happen to be interested in this subject. So I'm gonna join this A STM committee, it's only gonna cost me 115 bucks. I'm gonna sit down in a meeting and I get the exact same vote as you do. Right? That power really to me is what makes the process as great as it is because it takes all those interests and it allows you to make changes in that standard so that they adapt to the needs of everybody almost immediately. Now people will tell you, oh, it's slow to do standards development. Yeah, it takes processes, you gotta run it out. Someone votes negative. You gotta go through that process of addressing every negative, make sure everyone is heard. So that takes a little time because consensus doesn't happen overnight, but it's about the only way I know of where you can get all those voices in the room and come to a common understanding.

Dave Walsh (17:45):

That kind of takes us to a bigger discussion. Maybe the 50,000 foot view standards development and standards development organizations in general in 2024, as the president of one of the premier standards development organizations, what do you think some of the main challenges they face in 2024 are, and what should STOs priorities be going forward? We've got emerging markets, the need for standards internationally, all these sorts of different issues floating around and how do you kind of pull them together?

Andy Kireta (18:12):

I'm gonna modify your statement, right? I would say A STM is the premier international standards developer, not a premier. Others may disagree, but no, I do believe that. You know, I think standards developing organizations across the world provide a valuable service. And that's one little known and two highly unrecognized, right? And highly undervalued. And the fact that it is unrecognized and undervalued, I think is one of the biggest threats that we're all gonna have to deal with. And that is, 20 years ago within all these organizations around the world, there were people in an organization that that's all they did. They did standards development work. Those positions don't exist so much anymore, right? And they, it's just been a slow transition where, uh, the investment in that position has disappeared. And so you we're using a resource of our volunteers, of the people that are engaged that spread pretty thin.


You know, they might be doing engineering work in their business, they might be doing marketing work in their business. Um, and oh, by the way, I am doing the standards development work for any standards development organization to succeed. They need the right experts at the table. So that's a, that's a challenge that I don't think is new, um, or will ever go away, but it's certainly one that we all have to work to, to address. The other one, I've been involved in many standards organizations and, uh, codes and standards setting. And I would say one thing I'm seeing now is the disparity between the largest organizations and the tools and systems and services that they provide to develop and deliver standards content versus the smallest ones. That gap is narrowed. Um, which in a way is a good thing. And I would say is I would continue to say that it as a premier organization that challenges us, we have to continue running ahead.


We've been making a lot of investments to be sure that we can do that in our tools, our systems, not only how do we interact on the process, but just the content and the products around the standard, the services we provide so that we're really serving the needs of today's customer in today's industry, not those 10 years ago. So that's a challenge. It, it's, that's always gonna be a moving goalpost. I think some of the other challenges that we're all trying to get into, increasingly innovative, but crowded spaces, right? All, all of these standards developers have spaces they've traditionally been in for a long time as new things pop up, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, space flight, all of these different spaces that are new innovations. Everybody wants a piece, right? Everyone wants to get in. So that's a challenge. Not everyone can do everything. And we have to step back and figure out where do we have strengths that we can apply to create the best value for those, bringing those standards development or service development tools and processes to A STM versus why they should go somewhere else, realizing we probably shouldn't do all of them.


And that would be the same for the other standards developers. So I think that's a challenge, being able to identify which spaces make the most sense for each standards developer. Uh, and then I would say that probably the biggest one is most of us rely on the value of our content. Bringing all these experts together in a room to write a standard, to write a, uh, an e-learning, uh, a proficiency testing program. There's intellectual property involved there. The protection of that intellectual property in an increasingly open digital world is going to continue to be important and continue to be challenged. So, uh, that's one that there's no easy answer to. But in the end, I would say that very much like a lot of different spaces, content continues to be king. Yeah, I can deliver it in a number of different channels, but in the end, it's the quality of that standard, the quality of that service that will continue to be the king. And I, I think A STM has always been positioned well for that. And my goal is to continue to position as well for the next a hundred years. So

Dave Walsh (22:19):

That was kinda the bird's eye view, but now if we could kind of narrow in a little bit to your personal vision. What can you tell us about your plans for A STA international specifically and where do you see the organization headed in the next you 10 years or so? The near future, when Kathy Morgan took over, she probably never could have envisioned that she'd have to deal with the covid crisis. I mean, things come up out of nowhere. And so that's to be expected, but if everything runs smoothly, imperfectly, <laugh>, where do you see things going in the next few years?

Andy Kireta (22:46):

You do remember I told you that I can only focus on the things I can control, right? Not the ones that I can't covid falls into that second camp over the next few years. I, I have some initial thoughts around a few different areas. Uh, first is really looking at how do we increase ASTMs impact and relevance across the breadth geographically and demographically. Our system is set up and our values really are set up to be diverse, equitable, inclusive, so that we welcome all voices. But that doesn't mean that we get all voices, right? So we have to actively go out and do things and put plans in place to bring those voices in. And I would say some of the things that we're doing now really around the demographic area are gonna position us well in the future. And that's for bringing in folks earlier in their career, our professionals program.


I would love to see that grow. We, I think we're now at the point we've graduated over 300 people from the program. That's fairly significant. But if you look at 300 people outta 30,000 members, we have a lot of space to add there. And it's really getting those folks earlier in their career understanding why standards development's important to how their business operates and to their success personally. And I think we have a lot of ability to do that. And then that also is extending our current efforts in how we're engaging students. Uh, how do we get students involved so that before they even get into the workplace, let's say when I was a mechanical engineer fresh out of Purdue and I worked in the nuclear industry, I used A STM standards all the time. I never once thought about how did they develop these things, you know, I just knew that they were there and I needed to specify this piece of steel pipe for this nuclear plant and it's this A STM standard.


Not once did I think about it takes someone's time, effort, thought to make 'em. So getting that at the student level so they understand that, look, this is an important part of the things you'll be building in the future, you'll be manufacturing in the future, whatever. So that they get interested and they see that they can make valuable contributions and impact, then that also expands our expertise, uh, that we can access and the longevity of that expertise. So I wanna continue to build on those already successful programs. I also wanna see us opening up into those new innovative spaces. We've been very successful since the time I was on the board of A STM and to now coming as the president in building our presence in the advanced manufacturing space and additive manufacturing space. And there are a lot of other spaces like that. We're working in exoskeletons, right?


But what's the next thing out there? Artificial intelligence, we hear a lot about it. Um, where are we developing standards in network? There's gonna be a great impact there. And then all of the technologies that support that, you know, we're hearing a lot about all of the new energy demands that are gonna be created because of artificial intelligence. Well, that means we're gonna put energy systems on, we're gonna wanna put clean energy systems on. So all of these follow on spaces, I'd like to see how do we become an important impactful player there. And then I'd also like to increase our, our global relevance. We truly are an international standards developer, but many times the first times people think about A STM standards is an offshore manufacturer or whatever it might be that is looking to access the US market. So they want to use a s TM standards 'cause they're referenced in the US market. I think our voluntary consensus process, our standards, the expertise that we bring together, the ability to be a convener of those experts can be very valuable to other geographies and economies as they start to do the same thing.

Dave Walsh (26:47):

You just talked about students and you talked about educating the global community about standards. And that leads in perfectly to my next question because we like to ask this of all of our guests, but I think coming from you, it'll be more impactful than usual. What would you say to a young professional or a student or someone who's considering joining A STM? Will they find it worthwhile? Will it be something that helps them in their career? What would you say to that person?

Andy Kireta (27:10):

Oh, absolutely. I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago. My neighbor's son is graduating in mechanical engineering from a local school, not a boiler maker, that that was a bad decision of the past. He's really intrigued by additive manufacturing, has a really fancy 3D printer, printing some interesting parts, and we're having this conversation. He'd never really heard of a STM. And so I started talking to him about what we're doing in, in the additive manufacturing spaces about our ICAM conference on additive manufacturing and about the F 42 committee and said, you know what? You should just come to the committee week. Because even if you're not interested in the standards development part of it, all of the major players that are doing this in their businesses, those that are regulating it, they're in the room. It's a great networking opportunity and it's a great learning experience to hear how this is actually happening out there every day in the world. And that, I think is across any single one of our committees. It could be the flashy new technologies, uh, all the way back to, you know, my, my copper and copper alloys that have been around forever to, to steals, or you name it. The people that are in those rooms have helped build those industries and continue to help build those industries. They're great connections to have and they're great people to learn from.

Dave Walsh (28:27):

Well, I've been here asking you a bunch of questions and your answers have been great, but if there was one thing that you could leave someone with, maybe the person listening to this podcast only hears this one answer, what would you like to leave them with? What thoughts would you like to leave them with about A STM?

Andy Kireta (28:42):

What I'd like 'em to learn from this is that A STM is a vital, vibrant organization. It's only gonna become more vital, vibrant, and impactful in the future. It's the passion of its members, the passion of its staff, the sheer magnitude of expertise that we can bring to bear is really gonna position A STM well in the future for keeping the public safe, for raising the floor on what product development and design is based on. So then companies can raise the ceiling. So really the fact that A STM is vital in all of this, in making companies and making society safe and successful.

Dave Walsh (29:26):

Well, I think that's a great note to wrap up on because we're at the end of our time here. So, uh, just one more time. Uh, Andy, I wanna say thank you for joining us today and giving us some of your time. We really appreciate it.

Andy Kireta (29:36):

Thank you very much. Dave.

Dave Walsh (29:44):

If you wanna learn more about a s TM, visit for all the latest. And if you enjoyed this show, remember to like and subscribe so you never miss an episode. I'm Dave Walsh and this has been Standards Impact presented by A STM International. I.