SAE International Celebrates 100 Years in the Aerospace Industry!

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The organization was one of the forces that eventually consolidated to form our organization, SAE International. Thus, we consider today to also be the 100th anniversary of SAE's Aerospace Section.

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Less than two years later, on January 11, 1917 at its AGM, the Society of Automobile Engineers, which had been founded in 1905, consolidated with the Society of Aeronautic Engineers to form the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The date was July 22, 1915.

The names that would appear on the initial rolls are some of the most august in the world of science and aviation: Thomas A. Edison, Orville Wright, Glenn H. Curtiss, W. Starling Burgess and Elmer A. Sperry, just to name a few.

They were among the 200 charter members of the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers, which took flight from Manhattan a century ago this Wednesday.

The organization was one of the forces that eventually consolidated to form our organization, SAE International. Thus, we consider today to also be the 100th anniversary of SAE's Aerospace Section.

How the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers morphed into SAE International began earlier in 1915 when Edison encouraged Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to create the Naval Consulting Board, a group of scientists who were to assist the Navy in preparation for the country’s expected entry into World War I. Daniels formed the Board and asked Edison to serve as its president. It was in this position that Edison also encouraged the establishment of the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers.

The organization was formed and headquartered at the Aero Club of America, 297 Madison Avenue, in New York. Its first president was Henry A. Wise Wood.

According to a New York Times article of July 23, 1915:

The new society will be composed entirely of aeronautic engineers and flying experts, and two hundred, including aeroplane constructors, have already joined. . . . More than twenty other aeronautic engineers, aeroplane constructors and expert aviators have been asked to join the new organization, so that the entire aeronautical talent and experience of the country may be at the service of the Government.

Less than two years later, on January 11, 1917 at its AGM, the Society of Automobile Engineers, which had been founded in 1905, consolidated with the Society of Aeronautic Engineers to form the Society of Automotive Engineers. (In these fledgling days of automobiles and airplanes, the term "automotive" was applied to any vehicle, on the ground or in the air, that was self-propelling. Thus, "automotive" was an acceptable term to both sides.)

At this auspicious meeting Elmer Sperry gave a technical paper regarding aircraft navigation over the ocean. Four weeks later on February 9, 1917, the first airplane session of SAE was held.

The Society of Automotive Engineers later changed its name to SAE International in 2006.

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Shawn Andreassi
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