Milestone-Proposal:First Technical Meeting of AIEE 1884
This proposal has been submitted for review.
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
First Technical Meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1884
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
As part of the landmark International Electrical Exhibition organized by the Franklin Institute and held in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1884, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (the predecessor of IEEE) held its first conference on electrical engineering on 7-8 October 1884. This meeting is historically significant for being the first formal technical conference on electrical engineering held in the United States.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Drexel University IEEE Student Branch
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Drexel University IEEE Student Branch
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Drexel University IEEE Student Branch
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name
Proposer name: Moshe Kam
Proposer email: Proposer email
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
222 North 20th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 39.958139, -75.172626
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.
Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Are the original buildings extant?
Yes, but the original Franklin Institute building where the meeting was held is currently the Atwater Kent Museum, which does not allow plaques to be affixed to the building
Details of the plaque mounting:
The plaque will be mounted on the commemorative wall next to the main elevators on the Franklin Institute's first floor
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The Franklin Institute is open to the public. The building has security personnel and alarms when it is closed.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
The Franklin Institute
A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:
A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
As part of the landmark International Electrical Exhibition organized by the Franklin Institute and held in Philadelphia in the Fall of 1884, a technical conference was organized by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, attended by several native and sixteen foreign scientists and electrical engineers. This technical meeting is historically significant for being the first formal technical conference on electrical engineering held in the United States. The format and topics discussed in this conference served as a precursor for AIEE's future technical meetings. Moreover this meeting went on to being an annual fixture in AIEE's calendar. More importantly it resembled later conferences in many important respects thus setting the format for them; members of the AlEE delivered papers on a variety of electrical engineering topics and followed by a discussion on the papers. The topics presented encompassed both theoretical and practical interests as witnessed by the first paper read by Edwin J. Houston titled "Some Notes on Incandescent Lamps" which is of the former kind while the second paper read by W. M. Chandler on "Underground Wires" was directly aimed at the practical interests of the engineers. The presented papers also went on to appear in the society's first Transactions to be published early in 1885. The formation of AIEE ushered in the age of the professional engineer. The first AIEE president, Norvin Green, was the president of Western Union; the six vice presidents included Thomas Edison, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, MIT physics professor Charles Cross, two veteran telegraphers – George Hamilton and Franklin Pope, and an employee of equipment manufacturer Western Electric. Within a decade of its founding, AIEE had become the technical society for the electrical engineer. It was also an important developer of national and international standards. Beginning within a year of its founding by supporting wire gauge standards developed elsewhere; by the late 1890s, AIEE had turned to developing its own standards for electrical apparatus, and in 1898 issued the first report of its committee on standardization. Promulgation of standards became an ongoing activity. AIEE was one of the predecessor bodies of IEEE, presently the largest professional society in the world with 400,000 members.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
Although the American Electrical Society was founded in 1875, it, and a number of smaller societies that followed, did not survive the decade. The New York Electrical Society was formed in 1881 and the Franklin Institute's Electrical Section was formed in 1882. The motives in meeting at the Franklin Institute in 1884 are explained in Reiman below. For context see the GHN Topic Article on the IEEE Medal of Honor.
References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement:
Israel, P. (1992). From Machine Shop To Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy And The Changing Context Of American Invention, 1830-1920. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
A. Michal McMahon, The Making of a Profession: A Century of Electrical Engineering in America, 1984, IEEE Press, pp 1-4 http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/images/e/ee/The_Making_of_a_Profession.pdf McMahon, A.M. (1976, Sept.). Corporate Technology: The Social Origins of the AIEE. Proceedings of the IEEE. Vol. 64, No. 9.
McMahon, A.M. (1984). The Making Of A Profession: A Century Of Electrical Engineering In America. IEEE. New York: IEEE Press.
Reiman, D. New York: IEEE. (1984, Mar.). Formative Years of the AIEE. IEEE Power Engineering Review.
John D. Ryder and Donald G. Fink, Engineers and Electrons, 1984, IEEE Press, pp 33-35 http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Archives:Engineers_%26_Electrons:_A_Century_of_Electrical_Progress
Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Vol 1, 1884
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC):
<a href="Milestone_approval_by_student_branch.pdf" class="internal" _fck_mw_filename="Milestone_approval_by_student_branch.pdf" _fck_mw_type="media" title="Milestone approval by student branch.pdf">Milestone approval by student branch.pdf</a>