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On May 13, 1919, twenty engineers signed a petition to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) that requested the formation of a local section in the territory of Colorado. This request was granted for a section covering the state of Colorado. This marked the birth of the Colorado Section. Unfortunately, the charter presented to the section has been lost. This same year the section became a charter organization in the Colorado Engineering Council (CEC). To date, eight of the 44 presidents of CEC have been from ASME.
In 1948, it was realized that the section could be expanded to cover all of the state of Wyoming, all of the state of New Mexico, and that part of Texas south of New Mexico as this area was not part of any other section. Expanding to include these areas would increase the Colorado Section membership by the ASME members in those areas. This would increase the allotment from national headquarters, as it is based on the number of members in the section. This was accomplished and the name changed to The Rocky Mountain Section, in recognition of the territory covered.
In 1955 (approximately) the members in the Albuquerque area felt that they had a strong enough group to charter their own section - The New Mexico Section. This section included that part of Texas that south of below New Mexico. The lower portion of New Mexico and the part of Texas described above have now split off to become The Rio Grande Section; the grandchild of the original Colorado Section. The section then covered the states of Colorado and Wyoming. In 1965, the section changed its name to The Colorado-Wyoming Section at the request of the national headquarters as the recently reorganized Region VIII had been known as the Rocky Mountain Region.
During the 1960s and 1970s, a strong contingency of members from Laramie, Wyoming, and Fort Collins, Colorado, traveled the 80 to 120 miles one way to the monthly meetings, missing very few. Due to this strength, it was possible to form a subsection in the Laramie-Cheyenne-Fort Collins area in 1976. This was named the Centennial Subsection in recognition of the recently published Michener novel of the same name which described the early history of that region. The subsection covers all of Wyoming and the northern portion of Colorado (Longmont and north).
The Centennial Subsection achieved section status in 1980, the centennial year for the society. Hence, the name has dual meaning. In recognition of the smaller territory now covered by the remainder of the original section, the name has once again become the Colorado Section, coming full cycle.
The Pikes Peak Railway was dedicated as a National ASME Historical Landmark in 1976 due to the dedicated effort of Fred Ellis.
Bob Sutherland of Laramie was the Vice President of Region VIII serving two terms in about 1962-66. Dr. Fred Smith served as Region VIII Vice President (1985-1987) before Region XII was established. He also served as Chair of the Distinguished Lecturers Program (1992-1993), Student Section Faculty Advisor, and many positions on regional operating boards.
Many others have served in regional and national positions. These include Howard Paynter, Wade Troxell, Dave Alciatore, and Dr. Frank Kreith. Currently the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in Colorado is represented by three sections, The Colorado Section, The Centennial Section, and The Pikes Peak Section. All three sections are now located in ASME's Region XII. Their histories follow:
Some of the early Colorado Section meetings were held at the Oxford Hotel in lower downtown Denver. The Cunningham on South Downing was also the site for early meetings. One of the early dinners cost $1.85. The Albany Hotel was the meeting site in the 1950s. Later the meetings moved to the Hilton, then to the Engineers Club on Santa Fe Drive when it was constructed in 1960. About 1975 the Engineers Club was sold and the meetings were held at the Applewood Inn in Golden. The Holiday Inn Sports Center, the Spa and The Golden Ox on East Colfax were later meeting dates. Presently The Colorado Section meets at the Lakewood Country Club through the generosity of Trautman & Shreve Vice President, Jim Durant.
A number of national and regional meetings have been hosted by the Colorado Section. The earliest meeting that can be remembered is the 1934 Summer Annual Meeting. Again, in 1956, this meeting was held in Denver. In 1960 the first of what is now an annual meeting was held in Boulder. This is the International Heat Transfer Conference. The Colorado Section sponsored a symposium in 1965 on Mechanics Problems Related to the Recovery of Crude Oil With Steam. In 1966 there was the Joint Power Conference, in 1970 the Structures and Materials Conference, and in 1972 the International Joint Society Conference on Transportation.
In 1979 a symposium was held on Energy Management of Buildings. In 1980 the Section hosted the Petroleum Engineering Conference. The Section hosted the Industrial Power Conference in March of 1993 and in October of 1997 the International Joint Power Generation Conference.
The Colorado Section has been very active in the professional development field presenting numerous symposiums and seminars, with titles such as Decontamination and Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities and Properties, ISO 9000: The Quality Management Mystery, Design For Manufacture, Mixed Waste Management, Advanced Manufacturing Processes and many others.
The Student In Industry Day became an annual event in 1990. This program invites senior engineering students from the following engineering schools: Colorado University at Boulder, Colorado University at Denver, Colorado School of Mines, University of Denver, and Metropolitan State College of Denver. Students spend a half day shadowing practicing engineers at various cooperating industrial firms and then attend an evening dinner meeting as guests of that company. This event is normally held during National Engineer's Week.
In 1995 the Section initiated a program of active financial support for the five ASME Student Sections from the universities mentioned above. The program consists of a competition for financial prizes whereby teams from the schools make presentations to the Section outlining their need for funding for their projects.
The present membership of the Colorado Section, 1140 as of June 30, 2001 shows the growth of the Colorado Section.
The Centennial Section began as a subsection of The Colorado section in 1976. The subsection was formed as a result of the organizing efforts of Dr. Fred Smith, mechanical engineering professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, with the help of Beich Beichley, who was the ASME Regional Office Director at the time. Subsection membership was 140, according to Chairman William L. Wolf's 1976-1976 report.
Continued growth and local interest led members to petition for section status, which was granted in February, 1980. Interest and support from Dr. John Nydahl and the students of the University of Wyoming fueled program success during the 80s, During this period, the Student Day in Industry program was developed to allow students to spend a day with practicing engineers. This program is offered in February, to correspond with National Engineer's Week.
Current membership is 324 as of June 30, 2001. The Centennial Section is headquartered in Fort Collins. The section territory includes the state of Wyoming, and the area of Colorado contained by the Colorado/Wyoming border to the north, the Colorado/Nebraska border to the east, the Continental Divide to the west, and Colorado Highway 52 to the south. The Section supports two Student Sections, one at the University of Wyoming, and the other at Colorado State University.
This brief history was written by R.K. Bensching with the aid of Alan Woodward, Joe Parce, Bill Rictmann, Larry Card, Warren Kohler, and Frank Campbell. They agreed to meet and try to reconstruct the history of the Section. The meeting was taped and this tape will be preserved as part of the section history. Contributions were aloso made by Jean Camby of the Western Regional Office and Dr. Fred Smith of Colorado State University.
The Pikes Peak Section was organized as a subsection in 1982 and became a section in 1983. The Section hosted a Regional Administration Conference at the Broadmoor Hotel. It is believed to be the last Regional Administration Conference prior to the formation of Region XII.
Past Chairmen include E.J. Gibson, Kurt Eckert, Ruth Mary Scott, Larry Tobias, Dave Newton, Jesse Collette, Mike Sidman and Brad Thompson. The Section consists of the following counties of Colorado ?Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Crowler, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Los Animas, Archuleta, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Saguache, and Teller. There are 174 members in the section as of June 30, 2001.
There are two student sections: the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Southern Colorado (USC). At the last three Regional Student Conferences (RSC), a USC student has finished first in the design competition, and at the last RSC the student sections took first and second prize.
Recently, the Pikes Peak Section undertook the formation of a Sister Section program with one of ASME's international chapters. The Section is exchanging correspondence with the Central and Western Provinces Chapter of Saudi Arabia. This is the first time that a program of this nature has been tried.
Debra Newton was named one of the first Leadership Development Initiative Interns. This was a competitive program and there were six interns, one for the Board of Governors and one each for the five Councils.
Contributors to this section of the of the History were made by Dave Newton, Dr. Fred Smith and Jean Camby.
This history was rewritten by R. K. Bensching on August 28, 2001.