IEEE Pittsburgh Section History

IEEE Pittsburgh Section History
Established date 1902-10-03
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Pittsburgh Section History 1902-1983

As the Institute celebrates its 100th year, it is appropriate the Pittsburgh Section review its proud heritage. Unfortunately, engineers are too buys developing the products and service needed to advance the quality of life to record much of their work. There are some records with provide fascinating insight into the lives of our preceding engineers.

The Section was organized October 13, 1902, with Mr. P. M. Lincoln as the Chairman. He later became National President. The only section to precede Pittsburgh was one in Minnesota, which was organized six months earlier.

When the Institute was first organized it did not include a section organization. It was through the effort of Dr. Charles F. Scott, the National President and a member of the Pittsburgh Section, that the Section plan was adopted by the Institute. In the early 1900’s, it was appropriate that an Institute Section should be organized in Pittsburgh. The City was the focus of electrical engineering. Many manufacturing companies were based in the area with their large cadre of engineering talent.

The first Section technical meeting, attended by approximately 100, was on December 4, 1902, in the Westinghouse Club rooms at 736 Penn Ave, Wilkinsburg.

The first student branch to be established was at Pennsylvania State College on December 20, 1902. This branch was taken into the Pittsburgh section along with territorial annexation in 1938. The student branch at the University of Pittsburgh was formed on February 26, 1914. Professor H. E. Dyche, Sr., was instrumental in establishing this branch and then encouraging its activities. He later became Section Chairman. Some 21 students attended the first meeting held in Thaw Hall. The Student Branch at West Virginia University was formed on November 13, 1914. Early membership consisted of 6 students. The student branch at Carnegie Institute of Technology was formed on May 18, 1915. The first annual banquet of the student branch was held May 20, 1915, in the German Club in Pittsburgh. The program phrase, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may flunk.”

The Section can be proud of the record of advancement made by its members and officers to a position of leadership in the national organization at least 12 members have served as Section chairmen and later advanced to National President. Notable among these was Charles F. Scott. Many of you will recall the “Scott connection” which changed 2 phase alternating current to 3 phase by “T” connecting the transformers. This development was introduced in 1894. He gave enthusiastic service to the profession and in particular to the Institute. As its President, he founded the High Voltage Transmission Committee.

Louis B. Stillwell was another outstanding Section member. While employed at Westinghouse, he developed the “time limit circuit breaker” and contributed to the general layout and design of the first plan of the Niagara Falls Power Company.

Mr. Paul Lincoln, also an engineering executive of Westinghouse, invented the Synchroscope, a device now in universal use wherever AC machines are paralleled.

A most notable Pittsburgh Section member was George Westinghouse. He is best known for his organization of the electrical manufacturing giant with bears his name. His best-known invention is the air brake that was developed for the railroad industry. In his early years he served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The LAMME medal was established but the bequest of Benjamin C. Lamme. This outstanding Pittsburgh Section member held more than 150 patents that he received during his tenure at Westinghouse. His most notable inventions include the “umbrella generators” first used in Niagara Falls, the synchronous converter, and the series commutator-type motor, which is now in use in many electric transit systems.

Another local engineer who made many contributions to society was Frank Conrad, best known for his outstanding work in the field od radio broadcasting and short wave radio transmission. Less known was his work with the development of the arc lamp.

The first LAMME medal to be presented by the AIEE was awarded to Pittsburgh Section member Alan B. Field in 1928 for “The mathematical and experimental investigation of eddy current losses in large slot wound conductors in electrical machinery.”

The second LAMME award went to Rudolph Hellmund for his development work on various kinds of induction motors.

The present members of the Pittsburgh Section are justifiably proud of the heritage. The previous members have contributed so much to the technical advancement of our country and the world. We in this Section should resolve, as we celebrate the 100th year of the Institute, to contribute even more the well being of all the people on Earth.” –Ralph Simmons, IEEE Pittsburgh Section Bulletin Volume 23, February 1984.

AIEE Pittsburgh Section Officers

Year Chair Secretary
1904-1905 Norman W. Storer S.M. Kintner
1906-1907 H.W. Fisher H.D. James
1908 W. Edgar Reed B.P. Rowe
1909 C.B. Auel E.B. Tuttle
1910 H.N. Muller Ralph W. Atkinson
1911 K.C. Randall E.L. Farrar

Archival documents

Further Reading