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.

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


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


  • 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.


  • 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).


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


  • 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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  • 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.)


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


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


  • 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).


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


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


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


  • 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.


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


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


  • 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.


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


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


  • First recipient of the F. J. and Dorothy Van Antwerpen Award for Service to the Institute: Franklin J. Van Antwerpen.
  • The Design Institute for Physical Properties (DIPPR) was founded to collaborate on physical property data to satisfy process engineering needs.


  • First African-American AIChE Fellow: William Grimes. 



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


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

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


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


  • 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.


  • 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.



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  • 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.









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Source for data up to 2008: CEP, April 2008