History of the ESD Affiliate Council
On Friday, September 16, 1921 at the Auditorium, Board of Commerce
Building, a meeting was held for the purpose of organizing The
Affiliated Technical Society of Detroit (later to be called The
Associated Technical Societies). The chairman of the newly
formed group was DES member Arthur A. Meyer. Originally,
the Detroit Engineering Society was invited to manage the fledgling
group; instead DES preferred to be one of the original fourteen
members and one of the group’s main constituents. ATS
was organized to promote cooperation between all local sections
or societies. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the
group held meetings and joint programs at the DES headquarters
on West Alexandrine in Detroit. The Detroit Engineering Society
also supported ATS by producing a monthly publication, “ATS
Review”. The Depression years seriously affected the
performance of ATS. Through past president David Segal, the
Associated Technical Societies became enthused with the possibilities
of a proposed “United Engineering Society.” They
agreed to dissolve, if an organization were established to perform
In 1934 the Detroit Engineering Society (formerly the Detroit
Association of Graduate Engineers of the University of Michigan)
was almost 40 years old and faced with bankruptcy. The depression
years, which brought about a rapid decrease in engineering employment,
drastically reduced the Societies membership by 75 percent. Finances
were critical and the Society faced bankruptcy.
DES president, Harold S. Ellington, launched a program to save
the Society. The Board of Directors sent out 600 letters
to present and former DES members stating the problem and asking
for suggestions or financial assistance. This appeal produced
results in the form of $50,000 from the Rackham Foundation, a sum
sufficient to meet the Society’s most pressing obligations.
At meetings during 1934, 1935 and 1936 the Societies Directors,
aided by Dr. Bryson Horton (brother of Mary Rackham), Alex Dow,
Dr. Charles F. Kettering and others concluded the most effective
engineering organization would be one that accomplished two missions. To
combine the DES objective to advance the interests of engineering,
architecture, and allied professions and to benefit the Detroit
metropolitan area through dissemination and application of engineering
and scientific knowledge. The idea of the DES is to give
all engineers a meeting place where they might exchange engineering
ideas and to bring into the group the younger men in the profession
so that they may have contact with more mature minds. A second
objective to secure support of all local sections of the National
Engineering Societies, provide facilities and services to enable
the local sections to function more effectively.
Early in 1936 a grant of $500,000 was received from the Rackham
Fund, part of which was to be used for an engineering society headquarters
building. The old Detroit Engineering Society and the Associated
Technical Societies were dissolved and a new organization was born. The
Engineering Society of Detroit was incorporated on April 15, 1936. The
Affiliate Council of The Engineering Society of Detroit was established
to aid the new Society in its promotion of cooperation between
all local sections or societies and to assist ESD in the development
of joint programs.
Affiliate Council Mission Statement
- To encourage cross-society cooperation and communication among
of the Affiliate Societies by conducting activities that fulfills
- To promote peer recognition of noteworthy members of the Affiliate
through the Annual Gold Award and the Individual Society Award
- To enhance and broaden the knowledge of Engineering and the
multi-faceted and varied disciplines through involvement of the
in educational activities and student programs.
- To provide a mechanism for the Affiliated Societies to plan
joint meetings, and
obtain access to seminars and programs for professional or personal
- To be the primary conduit for the Affiliated Societies interaction
with The Engineering
Society of Detroit and to ensure that members of the Societies
are provided with
benefits and opportunities in the ESD.
The idea to present an annual award to an outstanding engineer
is believed to have been initiated in 1971 with the first Gold
Award presented to Walker Cisler, Chairman of the Board, Detroit
Edison Company, during National Engineers Week in 1972. The
award has been presented, with one exception, every year since.
The Gold Award banquet was expanded in 1975 to include awards
presented by member societies. That year, the Michigan Society
of Professional Engineers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
gave awards. The Affiliate Council initiated its ‘Certificate
of Appreciation’ with four awardees. The program was further
expanded the following year with seven societies presenting awards.
Since then, as many as fifteen or more societies have presented
awards at the banquet. This has made it possible to recognize people
for outstanding achievement in the presence of their peers and
to greatly expand attendance.
The Affiliate Council has continually strived to provide additional
services and programs to member societies. There have been networking
meetings, speakers, training programs for new officers, and twice
we have had government days. The purpose of the latter was to invite
state legislators to discuss issues of interest to our members.
The Affiliate Council’s ‘Distinguished Service Award’ was
established in 1996 in honor of Ann O. Fletcher, who at that time
was an ESD member for 42 years. She has held many elected and appointed
positions culminating in membership on the ESD Board of Directors
and serving as chair of the ESD Affiliate Council. Since 1997,
the award has been given to both active and past members of the
ESD Affiliate Council for distinguished and exemplary service.
Ms. Fletcher passed away in September 2010 at the age of 98.