The First 75 Years Excerpt
The Beginnings of the Engineering Foundation 1914—30
1. AMBROSE SWASEY’S GIFT
On May 28, 1914, President Gano Dunn of the United Engineering Society (UES) reported to its Board of Trustees that it had been his privilege to attend a conference with an eminent engineer who had expressed his desire to present to UES a considerable sum of money for the advancement of the profession of engineering. It was the recommendation of the President that a special committee be appointed to consider and propose the best means for accepting the gift amd for establishing aind administering an engineering research foundation under the broad terms of the donor’s expressed wishes. The appointment of such special committee, composed of two members from each Founder Society, was approved. At the donor’s request, his name was withheld pending a satisfactory action on the offer.
The latter part of the 19th century saw a diversification of the engineering profession accompanied by the establishment of numerous engineering societies. At the turn of the century, the leaders of national societies in the United States perceived that cooperation among them could bring benefits to all. In response, they took steps toward securing a building with proper facilities for offices, a library, an auditorium and other meeting rooms for the various engineering societies making their headquarters in New York City. In 1895, a plan for such a joint home was submitted to Andrew Carnegie by William D. Weaver, a member of the Board of Managers of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE). In response. Weaver’s plan received a reply of warm approval and CHAPTER 1 commendation. Three other prominent members of AIEE, T. Commerford Martin, Csdvin W. Rice and Chsirles F. Scott are understood to have made suggestions of the same nature at a later date.
On February 9, 1903, Carnegie, as one of the contributors to the library fund of AIEE, attended its library dinner where he spoke of the need for cooperation among engineers. Scott, by this time president of the Institute, recounted the growth of the Institute and discussed the need for an engineering societies building. The next day Carnegie invited Scott and Rice, chairman of the AIEE building committee, to a general discussion of the idea of a union engineering building. He said that a scheme of that type should include the socieil as well as the technical interests of engineering. His attention was called to the fact that the Engineers’ Club had just secured land on West 40th Street opposite the new public library. This locality appealed to Carnegie as being highly suitable cmd on February 14, after further conferences, he offered $1 million”. . . to erect a suitable union building …”