IEEE Louisville Section History
A Personal History of the Louisville Section of the IEEE
(The text in this webpage was originally written by Kenneth E. Rudolph, Jr., Louisville IEEE Section in 1984)
As you must know by now the IEEE was the result of the merger of the AIEE and the IRE in January 1st, 1963. The AIEE being the older of the two groups and having the most members in the Louisville area, we seem to have much more information about the AIEE before 1963 and the combined group since. The Louisville Section of the AIEE was formed in 1926 and the Louisville Section of the IRE was formed in 1947.
This particular paper is the beginning of what I hope is an on-going desire to explain the nature of this organization in the Louisville area. I personally have asked specific questions concerning the origins of the local IEEE. Why and how was it formed? What were its goals? How was I able to prosper?
The AIEE in Louisville came into being officially on October 26th, 1926. The reasons for forming the group at this time seem to be varied. The recent founding of the Speed Scientific School brought D. C. Jackson, Jr. into the Louisville area ad Mechanical and Electrical Professor. His father having been a President of the national AIEE organization surely made him intimately aware of the advantages of this group. The Speed School was working toward a Co-operative work program that required close interaction between Industry and Educational Establishment. There was already an ASME Chapter in the City so the formation of this group fulfilled a specific need.
The Louisville area had seen significant growth in the electrical industry as seen in the employers on the founding members: LG&E, the Louisville Railway, several Telephone Companies, the L&N Railroad, Marine Electric Co., Clark Electric Tool Co., the City of Louisville and the Nachod Signal Co. These companies were basically involved in Power and Communications. In order to sustain this growth, the industry needed a ready pool of trained or trainable individuals.
When you married together the need for Engineering Education, both initially and continuing, the need of industry for applied solutions and general research, with an individuals need for fraternal fellowship and recognition, the time was appropriate for the founding of a local chapter.
Many who were asked to join this group questioned the need for a national affiliation. It is very evident that the availability of a national publication, nationwide speakers, yearly regional meetings and continued contact with national headquarters had the effect of stimulating interest and of making the future viability of this group not dependent on one person of time period.
For any organization to prosper, it needs to have good leadership, good specific attainable, a pool from which to draw new members and the ability to change with time. These have been the Hallmark of this organization.
Leadership has been drawn from all segments of Louisville area; Industry, Education, Government, large companies, small companies, old, young, Presidents of companies, general engineers, etc. The goals have been education, not only of the adherents of technology, but of the general public. This has been extremely important. IN the early 30’s, many individuals questioned the humanity of technology and felt that it only displaced jobs. Many meetings were held to address this subject. This sounds quite familiar today. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing but ignorance is definitely catastrophic! The furtherance of research through conferences, student papers and other means has been ongoing. Meetings have ranged from the extremely technical to tours and get together outings. New members have been drawn from engineering graduates, individuals who moved into the area and in the recent past, rediscovered associate membership area.
This group has changed to meet the times. In 1929 it was noted that this was the first meeting where ladies were invited. Conference statistics regularly reported on the number of members, students, ladies, and others. Until the late 70’s we still had Stag picnics, now we have many female engineers and students who do attend our annual September picnic.
The AIEE and the IRE merging is a statement of each groups’ realization that they were on a collision course. The changing technology caused the interests of the two groups to coincide to a point that without merger there would have been a large amount of inefficiency. By combing mutual interests and cross-pollinating those things they didn’t have in common, we have a whole that is much greater than anyone had a reason to expect.
The vitality of our organization is an historical fact that each one of us can be proud of. Now that we answered the general questions, we must answer the specific question of what do I remember about this organization? I personally: Seeing students getting up in front of the whole group and giving their first technical discussion. The fear of starting and the joy of a successful completion. Seeing the older members and the not so old members enjoying discussions after a very interesting meeting.
Going to each years picnic wondering who would be there, what prizes would be offered and what little tidbit I would remember when it was all over. Such as the nail-driving contest with aluminum nails, or the boat rowing contest. Have you ever tried to row a boat through pylons after you have had two or three beers? It’s hilarious. And much, much more.
Louisville Section of the AIEE
The formation of the Louisville Section was first suggested at a meeting of the local Section of the ASME in late 1925. At this meeting, the advantages of the formation of the various engineering organizations was discussed as well as the possibility of affiliating with the local Engineers and Architects Club. The recent formation of the Speed Scientific School as an Engineering School of the University of Louisville seems to have pointed up the need for local sections of various engineering disciplines.
Professor Dugald C. Jackson, Jr., Professor of the Mechanical and Electrical Department at Speed Scientific School accepted the assignment of arousing interest in the formation of a Louisville Section of the AIEE. He received the names of the 18 local members of the AIEE and with the assistance of Edwin D. Wood of the Louisville Gas and Electric Company proceeded over the next ten months to acquire the 25 local members signatures needed on the petition for local Section status.
The Board of Directors of the AIEE authorized the organization of a Section of the Institute at Louisville, KY at their meeting held on October 15, 1926. The organization meeting was held October 26, 1926 with Prof. D. C. Jackson, Jr. as temporary Chairmans. After adopting bylaws as recommended by National Headquarters, D. C. Jackson Jr. was elected Chairman and W. C. White was elected Secretary – Treasurer.
A geographical overlapping on the Louisville Section was Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Lafayette Section was cleared up by February 16, 1927. Once this was completed, the drive for members began in earnest.
The first year was devoted entirely to meetings at various plants of electricity in the district. These included Southern Bell Telephone, James Clark Electric Tool Co., Louisville Railway Co., City Hall, and the L&N Railroad. This was done to promote interest in the Organization. By March 3rd, 1928 the Secretary was able to report that there were 65 members, 10 students and that a Student Branch was being organized at the University of Louisville.
One of the highlights of the Louisville Section’s activities was in 1930 when the Southern District Meeting was held here on November 19-22. The initial planning for the meeting was done in 1929 by Mr. L. S. Streng and a preliminary committee. Later, Mr. J. P. Barnes and Mr. E. D. Wood, with R. W. S. Rodman , Honorary Chairman, were officers for the meetings and all members had a part in it success. Records show that 294 registered – 139 members, 63 students, 32 ladies, 60 guests. Of these 225 were from the Southern District, 68 from other states and 1 from England.
Shortly after the successful Southern District meeting, financial difficulties arose on account do bank closings. This caused lengthy work for Mr. James Clark, Jr., which was carried on for several years. It is of interest that the Louisville Section had more than once had money in banks that closed.
The depression was something to be worked around or at least lived with. Once trying to get a speaker for a meeting, they were sent a negative reply which stated that ‘due to the Hoover Prosperity I am unable to travel to your city in the near future.” Also the National Institute proceeded to set up an engineering Referral program to help out of work engineers. It thus became more difficult not only to acquire new members but to retain the ones already on the rolls.
In 1932 an attendance contest aroused great interest and in 1933 a poster contest was sponsored at Speed School. These and other vigorous means maintained so much interest in the organization locally that a letter was received from National Headquarters in part as follows: “It is a pleasure to note that the Louisville Section has done such splendid work in retaining membership and in securing new members. We recently had to occasion to compare memberships of individual sections in 1933 with that of 1927 and found that Louisville had gained 30%, whereas, of course, many sections had suffered losses.”
An annual feature of the section started in 1936 and made permanent in 1938 was the awarding of student membership and badge to one junior at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, whose work during his first two years had been deemed of highest average by the respective faculties.
Attendance at meetings was varied from 12 to 15 in the early years when meetings were held at various places or at members’ homes for social gatherings to as many as 800 registered when Dr. Perrine of the Telephone Company appeared at Columbia Hall in 1939. In the early years many joint meetings with the ASME and the Engineers and Architects Club were held.
For the two year period, 1937-39, Edwin D. wood was Vice-President of the Institute for the Southern District and in 1937 Stanley Warth, then of Louisville, was District Secretary. From 1938 to 1943, A. S. Hoefflin was District Secretary for the Southern District, serving under Vice Presidents Wood (1938-39), F. R. Maxwell (1939-41), and Elmer Houseley (1941-43).
The Louisville Engineering and Scientific Societies Council was organized in October, 1944, and the Local Section was a founding member and provided both a 1-year and 5-year representative to the Council.
A Membership Plaque was awarded to the Louisville Section in 1947-48 for the greatest percentage increase in membership in the Southern Districts. The Section Membership passed the one hundred mark in 1947.
In 1952 two Subsections was formed within the Louisville Section. On October 16, 1952, the Lexington Subsection held its organization meeting and elected C. R. Smith, Chariman and M. J. Burdette, Jr., Secretary. On September 30, 1952, the Paducah Subsection held its organizational meeting and elected E. N. Iberg, Chairman.
In 1953, on April 22-24 the Southern District meeting, including the Appliance Technical Conference, was held in Louisville for the second time. A registration of 462 was tabulated, 225 members, 84 nonmembers, 113 students, 40 ladies, an as in 1930, 1 member form England. The theme of the meeting was “Industry Moves South”. Twelve technical sessions were held, thirteen inspection trips were scheduled and numerous social activities were conducted, including a ladies program. The Annual Student Conference was held concurrently.
As to the success of the program, President Donald A. Quarles writes in a letter to professor M. G. Northrop, Meeting Chairman, “congratulations to you and your General Committee for a big job well done.”
In 1953, the membership of the Louisville Section passed the 200 mark. A new social program was instituted in 1954 when the first annual Christmas Party of the Lousiville Section was held. During these years the Christmas Dinner-Dance developed into one of the most popular events on the AIEE calendar.
The first technical Discussion Groups were instituted in 1956 and were composed of those members having common interests in the various phases of Electrical Engineering. The purpose of the formation of these groups was to encourage technical activity and to foster the exchange of ideas.
A southern District meeting was held in Louisville in 1959.
The 12th Annual National Appliance Technical Conference and the 6th Annual Conference on Rural Electrification were hosted by the local Section on May 1-3, 1961 at the Kentucky Hotel.
|Year||Chairman||Secretary - Treasuer|
|1926||D. C. Jackson, Jr.||W. C. White|
|1927||D. C. Jackson, Jr.||W. C. White|
|1928||E. D. Wood||N. C. Pearcy|
|1929||H. W. Wischmeyer||P. P. Ash|
|1930||James Clark, Jr.||P. P. Ash|
|1931||P. P. Ash||C. M. Ewing|
|1932||C. M. Ewing||L. O. Adams|
|1933||S. T. Fife||W. H. Mansfield|
|1934||W. H. Mansfield||G. M. Miller|
|1935||G. M. Miller||S. Warth|
|1936||S. Warth||F. W. Russell|
|1937||F. W. Russell||A.S. Hoefflin|
|1938||A.S. Hoefflin||J. M. Houchins|
|1939||J. M. Houchins||J. F. Miller|
|1940||J. F. Miller||J. R. Smith|
|1941||J. R. Smith||T. J. Borgman|
|1942||T. J. Borgman||M. M. Hughes|
|M. M. Hughes||L. G. Weiser|
|1943||L. G. Wieser||M. S. Winstandly|
|1944||M.S. Winstandly||S. H. Gates|
|1945||S. H. Gates|| |
|1946||L. W. Anderson|
|1948||M. G. Northop|
|1949||R. D. Spalding|
|1950||H. T. Smith|
|1951||W. G. Adair|
|1952||John G. Lips|
|1953||J. D. Warren|
|1954||T. W. Talcott|
|1955||J. F. Gregory|
|1956||W. J. Ryan|
|1957||W. B. Watkins|
|1958||J. D. Caudill|
|1960||H. N. McGinnis|
|1961||J. J. Jennings||J. R. Bell / R. L. Royer|
|1962||L. B. Jenkins, Jr.||J. R. Bell / R. L. Royer|
The IRE/ AIEE Merger
In October 1961 an Open Letter from the President of the IRE stated that the merger of IRE and the AIEE was needed. At that time the AIEE had approximately 65,000 members and resources of $1.5 million and the IRE had 92,000 members and resources of $4.5 millions. He stated that, “because of the basic evolution of each Institute toward the broad methods of electronics... there has been an increasing overlap of interest…” The overlap was evidenced by 5000 to 6000 common members, standards committees of each group that dealt with the same areas, overlap of publications, common student groups, and other areas. This duplication of effort was wasting resources and would ultimately lead to conflict. By mutual agreement the new Institute of Electrical Engineers came into existence on January 1, 1963. Some restricting of territory was required but the merger went very smoothly in the Louisville area. Joint meetings for the two Louisville groups were held in 1962, with the two Chairmen jointly chairing the meetings.
The Louisville Section of the IEEE
One of the changes that resulted from the Merger of the two organizations was: The additions of the Chairman-elect, which was effectively, a Chairman in training and a substitute Chairman. In the past, the Secretary was required to fill in for the Chairman. This eventually became the Vice-Chairman.
Certain Traditions were carried on:
- A Student paper contest
- A Fall Outing or non-technical meeting
- A Christmas Dinner with non-technical guest lecturer
- Many technical meetings, including tours and lectures
- Membership in the LESSC
- Presentation of professional Engineering refresher course
In 1963, the Chairman and the Executive Committee were required to carry on with the normal program and to complete the merger by submitting a constitution and by-laws similar to those approved by National Headquarters.
A Microelectronics Seminar was held in the first half of 1967. Closer ties were attempted with the Lexington and Evansville-Owensboro Sections by exchanging of newsletters and a joint student paper contest. There was an attempt to form three Technology groups; the Sommunications Technology Group, the Industrial Controls Group and the Systems Protection Group. Changes in the by-laws were instituted as follows: change from a fiscal to a calendar year, change Chairman-Elect to Vice-Chairman and provide for a 6th Executive Committee member. A Computer Aided Network Analysis and Design Semianr was held in March 1968.
The third annual seminar was hosted at U. of L. on April 24, 1969. The subject was “Transportation”. Team captains of a telephone committee were proposed to improve attendance at general meetings. The annual awards given to two students at the Speed School were named The Samuel T. Fife Scholarship Award and the M. Gordon Northrop Student Activity Award at the July 24, 1969 Executive Committee meeting.
The fourth annual seminar was hosted at U. of L. on April 23, 1970, the subject was “Bio-Medical Engineering.” The Local Section was a Co-sponsor of a full day Seminar of Master of Engineering student presentations on July 29, 1970.
The fifth seminar was hosted at U. of L. in the spring of 1971 on “Continuing Education.”
The Louisville Section hosted the IEEE-SOUTHEST_CON on April 30, May 1-2, 1973 at the Galt House in Louisville. J. S. Heintzman was General Chairman and and Dr. L. B. Jenkins, Jr. was Vice-Chairman. The theme of the conference was “Electrical Engineering-Service to Mankind.” Special sessions, invited papers and industrial seminars were given in such areas as product safety, environmental conservation, and medical electronics. The conference was a complete success.
Mr. John Heintzman received the “Outstanding Service to IEEE” award at the SOUTHESTCON in Charlotte, N.C. on April 8, 1975, As of Septmeber30, 1975 the Louisville Section was composed of 1 Fellow, 48 Senior Members, 243 Members, 10 Associate Members, and 56 Student Members.
The IEEE-Electric Process heating Conference was held on May 2-4, 1977 at the Galt House. A Microprocessor Course was held on November 21, 1978 at the Universoty of Louisville in conjunction with the local section.
Two awards were initiated in the Section for Electrical Engineer of the Year (achievement) and Distinguished Engineer Award (Service). The first awards were given at the December 1979 meeting to Dr. L. B. Jenkins and William C. Gibson.
In March 1980 the Louisville Section had 557 members of a total 200,000 members worldwide The Student Section was presented a special certificate for being the 128th largest student branch internationally of 429 branches. The 1980 Achievement Award was won by John S. Heintzman and Dr. Peter B. Aronhime won the Service Award.
At the December 1981 Christmas dinner meeting, Rm. Orrin W. Towner received the annual Achievement Award and Mr. Ed J. Miller received the annual Service Award. Both of these individuals are past Chairman. The LESSC met and untimely death in late 1981 due to changing times and the passing of interest.
In early 1981 past Chairman Tony Shields was lected Area 8 Representative for Region 3. At the December 1982 Christmas Dinner meeting, Mr. Anthony L. Shields was presented the Achievement Award, which was recently, renamed the “Edgar L. Marvin Award for Service to the IEEE.” Mr. Kenneth E. Rudolph, Jr. received the Outstanding Electrical Engineer of the Year Award.