History of SAME

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, January-February 1920

A Society is Born

SAME insignia

As a young organization, SAME grew from our nation’s experiences in “The War to End All Wars” when thousands of engineers in civil life were called to duty in uniform. 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. Together, industry and military leaders vowed to capitalize on the technical lessons and camaraderie shared during their battlefield experiences, and create an organization through which the national engineering community could ensure a preparedness and readiness for the nation’s civil and military needs.

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 with opportunities to connect face-to-face and establishing a network of relationships across the country in support of national security.

Membership in SAME grew rapidly. By September 1920, the number of members had surpassed 3,500. Many notable national leaders were early members of SAME, including Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick, who was Chief of American Expeditionary Force’s Air Service in World War I; 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. 

Central to the establishment and growth 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 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.

For nearly a century, 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.

“I have been a member of this Society since its inception. Its span of years has seen the most remarkable rate of development of civilization the world has ever witnessed. This accomplishment has synchronized with some of the most acute perils the human race has ever known and overcome. In both categories the engineer has distinguished himself and his profession. Not only in what he has done but in what he has prevented from being done, he has established himself as one of the basic pillars of modern society. I have belonged to many distinguished groups but none in which I have a greater sense of honor than in the Society of American Military Engineers.”

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, SAME Charter Member

Leading Collaboration

SAME, as it celebrated 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 nearly 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 Society’s mission, to lead collaborative efforts to identify and resolve national security infrastructure-related challenges, unites public and private sector individuals and organizations from across the architecture, engineering, construction, environmental and facility management, cyber security, project planning, contracting and acquisition, and related disciplines in support of national security. 

SAME is led by a volunteer Board of Direction that comprises six National Officers (including President, President-Elect, Past President, and three Vice Presidents), 17 Regional Vice Presidents, the Chairs of the Communities of Interest, as well as 12 Elected Directors who serve three-year terms and are elected in groups of four annually. The SAME National Office, overseen by an Executive Director and a professional staff, is located in historic Old Town Alexandria, Va. 

In 2016, the SAME Foundation was established to support the professional growth and development of the next generation of military, government civilian, and A/E/C industry leaders. By supporting the development of young professionals and creating opportunities that inspire America’s youth to pursue a career in STEM, the establishment of the SAME Foundation is a major step toward achieving the 2020 SAME Strategic Plan goals and objectives. The SAME Foundation is building on a strong philanthropic legacy, investing in programs that will make an impact on fostering engineering leadership for the nation. In 2019, SAME, with the support of the SAME Foundation, began a national Leader Development Program that serves to cultivate leadership from within the membership to support the 21st century needs of the nation and the A/E/C profession

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SAME 2021 Annual Report

SAME 2021 Annual Report cover
Getting Connected

SAME consists of more than 100 Posts as well as Student Chapters and Field Chapters around the world. Posts are the foundation of SAME—enabling people to get connected on the local level where the impacts of solutions and lessons learned can be implemented most effectively. It is SAME’s goal to be a society of Posts that are relevant locally while contributing to a cohesive national direction. Posts are assets in their communities. They inspire students toward STEM careers, mentor young professionals, support veterans, promote resilience and help identify and resolve infrastructure-related challenges. In 2018, collectively, SAME Posts set a new record in awarding over $1.1 million in scholarships and 70 held a joint event with another association. 

Becoming Involved

The Society also offers a number of avenues to become involved at the national level, including through the Committees & Councils, the Academy of Fellows, and our world-class Engineering & Construction Camps, which are held in partnership with the military services.

SAME’s Committees & Councils offer members a chance to engage  with other professionals focused on a particular community of interest or demographic within the A/E/C industry. In addition to monthly and quarterly calls and webinars, and assisting with the national awards program, the Committees & Councils are a leading source for developing the education and training roadmap for major SAME events, national webinars and other professional development opportunities, including those held in conjunction with SAME’s strategic partners.

The Academy of Fellows recognizes those members who have rendered dedicated and outstanding service to the Society, military engineering, and the A/E/C profession. SAME has bestowed the title of Fellow on select members since 1972; in 1995 an academy was founded to formally acknowledge these distinguished individuals for their dedication to SAME and the A/E/C profession. Today, there are more than 800 members of the Academy of Fellows. Fellows are instrumental in helping the Society carry out mentoring programs, leader development initiatives, STEM outreach, and leading their local Posts.

Each summer, SAME hosts week-long camps geared towards inspiriting youth to pursue a career in engineering and consider the opportunities of serving as a military engineer. SAME has long been advancing events and activities and offering scholarships designed to excite students to become engineers. For nearly 20 years, in collaboration with the military services, the SAME Engineering & Camps have helped support high school students who excel in math, science, and technology and are interested in pursuing engineering, architecture, or related fields in college.

Staying Informed

From a communications standpoint, SAME’s media products seek to document lessons learned, share best practices, highlight members, and showcase trends that matter to the A/E/C industry and joint engineering community. Through The Military Engineer magazine, research reports, the SAME Online Sustaining Member Directory, and a vibrant collection of digital media platforms, including the Real TiME e-newsletter, and Real TiME Podcast, SAME members can stay informed of all that is happening across the A/E/C industry and the military engineering community.

Growing Professionally

It is people who innovate, lead, solve and inspire. SAME is committed to supporting members’ efforts enhance their careers to help sustain the future of the profession. From graduate-level technical presentations at national events to on-demand webinars to mentoring programs for young leaders to an online-accessible Job Center, SAME offers numerous ways to grow professionally, whether you are a junior officer, an enlisted service member, a mid-career manager, or a senior executive. SAME also offers credentialing support, including reimbursement programs, to enable Young Members to attain the licenses, credentials, and certifications necessary to propel their career forward.

2020 & Our Second Century

As the Society looks ahead in its second century of service, five lines of effort have materialized that demonstrate SAME’s suitability to continue to lead efforts to address the infrastructure-related challenges facing America. Their importance will surely be influential in the development of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan, which the National Board of Direction has just recently begun.

Strengthening Industry-Government Engagement

This line of effort is the bedrock upon which SAME was formed. Our Industry-Government Engagement Plan is producing tangible results at the national and Post levels. Notably, our efforts to bring the engineering services together with partners such as the Lean Construction Institute, Associated General Contractors of America, Construction Management Association of America, and Design-Build Institute of America, along with several Sustaining Member firms, has produced a model that is already being used to bring project partnering back. Moreover, our Federal Small Business Conference for the A/E/C Industry, which in 2018 set an attendance record for the fifth straight year, is rapidly becoming the “one-stop” market research event for government and industry.

Building and Sustaining Resilient Communities

The challenges of the 21st Century require new thinking; innovative materials and techniques; bold leadership; better lifecycle management; and a keen ability to plan for and operate in an environment of uncertainty, such as consideration of emerging trends like mega regions. The population surge of the industrial age led to the growth of cities. How will we cope with the exponential growth of the world’s population (which has doubled in just the last 70 years) against a backdrop of greater natural disaster events? These challenges will directly impact national security for decades to come and can only be solved collaboratively.

Developing Leaders for the Profession

Developing leaders who can lead collaboration on the basis of trust will be key in our next century. The SAME Foundation, started in 2016, established its compelling purpose to be “fostering engineering leadership for the nation.” In a relatively short time, it has supported many leadership development efforts and of special note, has underwritten the development of a national Leadership Development Program that will commence in May 2019. The Camps Program, Communities of Interest, Academy of Fellows, and board positions nationally and locally are just a few of the many leadership development opportunities that exist in SAME.

LDP Class
Enriching the STEM Pipeline for the Nation

The worldwide shortage of STEM professionals is a serious issue, with demands only exacerbated by our aging infrastructure at the same time other nations are investing heavily in theirs. Another challenge is to ensure that we break the cyclic nature of our capacity. It was not that long ago when in the late 1980s many potential STEM professionals turned away because of the shortage of related jobs. We need to maintain the pipeline, not just fill it in the short term.

Preparing Veterans and Servicemembers for the A/E/C Industry

The last 20 years of war have produced a generation of warriors who, like their counterparts during the major conflicts before, deserve our support. As one example, our Credentialing Committee has led an effort the last few years that contributed to the military services’ work to transform their construction trade-related training curricula to mirror the skills required for private sector certification. We are now expanding that effort to support military and civilian members who are not engineers.

SAME at 100 Timeline

SAME at 100 TImeline