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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 ATS functions.

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

  1. To encourage cross-society cooperation and communication among officers
    of the Affiliate Societies by conducting activities that fulfills common interests
    and goals.
  2. To promote peer recognition of noteworthy members of the Affiliate Societies
    through the Annual Gold Award and the Individual Society Award Program.
  3. To enhance and broaden the knowledge of Engineering and the Sciences as
    multi-faceted and varied disciplines through involvement of the Affiliate Societies
    in educational activities and student programs.
  4. To provide a mechanism for the Affiliated Societies to plan joint meetings, and
    obtain access to seminars and programs for professional or personal development.
  5. 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.




 

 


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