“We are establishing at this time a Society of American Military Engineers. This society will serve no selfish purpose. It is dedicated to patriotism and national security. Its objects are, in brief, to promote solidarity and co-operation between engineers in civil and military life, to disseminate technical knowledge bearing upon progress in the art of war and the application of engineering science thereto, and to preserve and maintain the best standards and traditions of the profession, all in the interests of patriotism and national security.”
–The Military Engineer magazine, January 1920
With these words, published just 13 months after the end of World War I, SAME was established. While the organization has grown and evolved over the last 95 years, its purpose has not changed. SAME is the premier engineering association in the United States bringing together public and private sector professionals to build connections, share lessons learned, and develop solutions to strengthen our national security.
As a young organization, SAME grew from our nation's experiences in “The War to End All Wars” when more than 11,000 civilian engineers were called to duty. Upon their return home, many feared the collective knowledge and the cooperation between the public and private sectors that proved vital to combat success would be lost. Industry and military leaders vowed to capitalize on the technical lessons and camaraderie shared during their battlefield experiences.
SAME was formed from this vow. In 1919, Maj. Gen. William M. Black, USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, appointed a nine-officer board to consider the formation of an "association of engineers" that would preserve and expand upon connections formed in war and promote the advancement of engineering and its related professions across both government and civil life. Early in 1920, the first SAME Posts were founded, providing former colleagues and new associates opportunities to connect face-to-face, and establishing a network of relationships across the country in support of national security. Many notable national leaders were early members of SAME, including Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick, then-Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, Douglas MacArthur, and Charles Dawes, who in 1928 would serve simultaneously in two defining leadership positions: President of SAME and Vice President of the United States of America. (Click here to view all past SAME National Presidents.)
Central to the establishment of SAME was The Military Engineer magazine, which throughout its history has served as a professional journal dedicated to promoting and advancing engineering for national security. The Military Engineer was launched under its current masthead in 1920 (after previously being published as Professional Memoirs, a Corps of Engineers publication) and immediately carried the message of the new “association of engineers” and was a vital tool in communicating with engineers across the country and helping establish the Post network, which became the bedrock of SAME.
The Military Engineer (themilitaryengineer.com/) has celebrated the efforts of military engineers during some of the history’s most significant armed conflicts, including two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror. It has detailed the greatest feats of modern engineering, such as the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam and the Manhattan Project. The Military Engineer has followed the trends of military engineering from the early development of our nation’s transportation infrastructure through Cold War-era construction and the birth of computer-aided design to the current era of sustainable development, infrastructure resilience and military base realignment. The magazine, in both print and online format, remains a leading source for chronicling the achievements of engineering in support of national security.
For more than 95 years, SAME members have been at the forefront of our nation’s greatest engineering contributions—the development of nuclear energy, the successes of World War II, the national highway system and America’s unparalleled water infrastructure network, sanitation and public health engineering advancements, the projection of air and sea power, space exploration, environmental stewardship and humanitarian support to global disasters. And today, SAME members continue to support our ongoing 21st Century challenges, including the war of terror, cyber security and the effects of climate change.
SAME, as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2020, has grown alongside its members. The organization now boasts a leading program of conferences, workshops, symposiums, and professional development and networking opportunities. SAME’s membership comprises 30,000 professionals representing the uniformed services as well as numerous state, local and federal government agencies, nonprofit associations, academic institutions, and private sector firms all working to guide the future of the A/E/C profession and its contributions to the protection of our nation.
The home of SAME is “Century House,” located at 607 Prince St. in Old Town Alexandria, Va. Constructed around 1845, Century House was built as a Victorian town home and occupied as a private dwelling for several years. Sometime afterwards, Dr. George Klipstein assumed ownership and practiced medicine in the house until he was 85 years old. Century House actually was a full-fledged medical treatment facility, acclaimed by some to be used during the early stages of the Civil War. The Society purchased Century House in October 1980, relocating its headquarters from Washington, D.C.
SAME members are encouraged to stop by Century House any time they are in Old Town, visit with staff, peruse the archives, and see history come alive!