Institute Milestones

Leading With More Than 100 Years of Achievements

Following is a timeline of some of the continuing changes in AIChE membership, professional activities and organizational practices during the Institute’s existence – with special recognition to the people whose efforts brought those changes to fruition.

1888 

First chemical engineering program (named “Course X”) established within MIT Chemistry Department. Taught by chemistry professor Lewis M. Norton.

1893

First Chemical Engineering Department: University of Pennsylvania. Established by Edgar Fahs Smith, professor of chemistry and provost of the University.

1904 

United Engineering Society [now United Engineering Foundation] created. Andrew Carnegie funded his vision of a "home" for all engineering disciplines. AIChE retroactively designated as a Founding Society; the others were AIME, ASCE, ASME, and IEEE.

1908 

AIChE founded by William M. Booth, Arthur D. Little, Charles F. McKenna, Richard K. Mead, John C. Olsen, and William H. Walker. Chemical engineers differentiated from industrial chemists. Institute membership grows to 101 one year later (1909).

1915 

First engineer to recognize the potential of unit operations to separate chemical engineering from other professions: Arthur D. Little. 

1922 

  • Chemical engineering is the first profession to utilize accreditation to assure course consistency and quality; 14 schools accredited in 1925.
  • First AIChE student chapter: University of Michigan. Established by Alfred H. White.

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1925 

First AIChE local professional section in continuous operation: Chicago, IL. Founder: Frederick Dunlap. (Detroit [1922] did not survive the Depression, but was re-established in 1945.)

1931 

First female PhD in chemical engineering: Yun-Hao (Ruth) Feng, Ohio State University.

1932 

Founding of Engineers Council for Professional Development (ECPD; now ABET). AIChE representatives in attendance: A. B. Newman, J. M. Weiss, H. C. Parmelee.

1936

First Institute Award established: William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature. First recipient: Allan P. Colburn (who later became the namesake for another Institute Award).

1945 

First female member of the Institute: Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau. She was also the first (and, to date, only) female recipient of the Institute’s Founders Award (1983).

1947 

Chemical Engineering Progress (CEP) magazine created to provide news and technical information. First editor: Franklin J. Van Antwerpen.

1949 

  • AIChE membership opened to undergraduates.
  • First Institute Lecture: “Heat Transfer,” presented by W. L. McAdams, MIT. Annual lecture series addresses topics of current interest.

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1952

Membership reforms instituted: Academic membership with no industrial experience; Junior to Associate membership after 20 years. Proponents included veterans returning from World War II.

1954

First AIChE technical division chartered: Nuclear Engineering Division. Initially formed as a committee in the 1940s. Founders included Miles C. Leverett and John R. Hoffman.

1955

AIChE’s first ‘theoretical’ chemical engineering publication, AIChE Journal, begins. Founding editor: Harding Bliss.

1963

AIChE Continuing Education Program chartered. Driven by W. Robert Marshall.

1970 

Environmental Division formed to increase focus on improving air and water qualities and reducing solid wastes. Founders included Gary Bennett, Lawrence K. Cecil, Phillip Witt.

1972

  • First African-American female in U.S. to earn a PhD in chemical engineering: Lilia A. Abron, University of Iowa.
  • AIChE becomes advocate regarding federal and state policies; Government Programs Steering Committee established (predecessor of Government Relations Committee).
  • Career Guidance for the Disadvantaged (women and minorities) Subcommittee established. Organizers: Henry T. Brown, Gerry Lessells.

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1973 

First Service to Society Award recipient: Lawrence K. Cecil. 

1976 

Establishment of longest-running technology alliance: Design Institute for Emergency Relief Systems (DIERS). Established by Walter B. Howard, Harold S. Kemp.

1978 

First recipient of the F. J. and Dorothy Van Antwerpen Award for Service to the Institute: Franklin J. Van Antwerpen.

1982 

First African-American AIChE Fellow: William Grimes. 

1985

First Technology Center within AIChE: Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). Founding Director: Thomas W. Carmody.

1989 

Establishment of Minority Affairs Committee for educating/ training of disadvantaged; fosters minority employment. Committee chair: Henry T. Brown. 

1991

First Technical Forum: North American Mixing Forum. Established by Arthur Etchells, Ramesh Hemrajani, Bruce Nauman.

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1995

William Grimes Award established by Minority Affairs. Committee to encourage minorities in science and mathematics. First recipient: Lilia A. Abron.

1997

Establishment of AIChE Women’s Initiative Committee. Chair of original task force: Teresa Cheung.

1997/1998

AIChE Operating Councils established; major reform to focus AIChE Board of Directors on strategic issues. Driven by William R. Gustafson, Mary J. Markette, Glenn Taylor.

1998

  • First international alliance: North American Alliance of Chemical Engineers (NAAChE); includes AIChE, Canadian Society Chemical Engineers; Institute Mexicano de Ingenieros Químicos. AIChE represented by Bruce A. Finlayson, William R. Gustafson, Glenn Taylor.
  • Chemical Engineering PanAmerican Collaboration (CEPAC) initiative to promote Pan-American chemical engineering education. Driven by Ignacio E. Grossmann.

2002

Establishment of Young Professionals Advisory Board (YPAB) for increasing young professional member participation. First chair: Wendy C. Young.

2003 

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2004 

Global Institute for Sustainability established to serve professionals that contribute to the advancement of sustainability and sustainable development. 

2008 

  • AIChE celebrates its Centennial. One hundred years have passed since AIChE was founded by a group known as The Committee of Six. They were William H. Walker, William M. Booth, Charles F. McKenna, Richard K. Meade, John C. Olsen, and Arthur D. Little.  Members gathered in Philadelphia, home of the first AIChE founding, to celebrate 100 years. 
  • AIChE international dues (e.g., CCPS China) pegged to World Bank income level estimates. Drivers: Deborah Grubbe (International Development Chair), Maria Burka, Thomas Hanley.

2009  

2010  

2011

2012

​2013

AIChE relocates its home office to 120 Wall Street, New York, saving on rent and taxes.

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Source for data up to 2008: CEP, April 2008