AIME Legacy Continues To Benefit SPE and Other Member Societies

The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) is the parent organization of SPE. AIME fulfills its legacy by supporting member societies’ programs and awards, and by documenting the history of the industries and technologies.


For those not familiar with AIME, it stands for the “American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers.” AIME, founded in 1871 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was one of the first national engineering societies established in the United States. In subsequent years, AIME was joined by four other engineering founder societies—the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers—and formed the United Engineering Foundation. An interesting side note is that US President Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer, served as the AIME president in 1920. More detailed information on the history of AIME can be found in the JPT articles referenced below.

As AIME itself continued to grow, it decentralized and formed four independently operated member societies:

  • SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration)
  • TMS (The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society)
  • AIST (Association for Iron & Steel Technology)
  • SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers)

The overarching mission of AIME remains to support its member societies, with an accompanying vision to honor its legacy as a valued partner with the member societies. The purpose of this article is to report to our members how AIME is fulfilling its mission of preserving our legacy.
AIME’s History and Heritage Committee is charged with providing oversight to activities related to preserving and enhancing this legacy. Some of the key focus areas include archiving historical materials, documenting key initiatives and activities of the institute prior to the formation of the independent member societies, capturing oral histories from members on their experiences in the “early days” of their respective industries, maintaining the AIME awards and recognition program, and highlighting specific activities such as commemoration of AIME’s 145th anniversary in 2016 and planning for the 150th milestone in 2021.

Examples of the these items include development of a multisociety Engineering and Technology History Wiki that includes a chronological record of important achievements in the history of engineering and technology and firsthand experiences recorded in the oral histories as described earlier. We encourage members, especially students, to visit this premier and unique site at Most of SPE’s content is under the “Energy” button, while most of the content for the other three member societies is under the “Materials” button. Also, all of the AIME oral histories can be found at,_SME,_SPE,_and_TMS.

AIME annually honors its legacy by presenting awards among its member societies. In SPE, these include the Honorary Membership, one technical, and three professional awards. Honorary Membership is the highest honor that SPE presents to an individual and is limited to 0.1% of the SPE total membership. This elite group of 71 extant members also holds Honorary Membership in AIME. 

The Anthony F. Lucas Technical Leadership Gold Medal, established in 1936 by AIME, honors distinguished achievement in the identification and development of new technology and concepts and demonstrating distinguished achievement in improving the technique and practice of finding and producing petroleum. It is SPE’s major technical award. Lucas was a mining engineer, often referred to as the father of petroleum engineering. His theory of the association of salt domes with oil and his successful drilling of the famous Spindletop field near Beaumont, Texas, was one of the most important developments in the history of the petroleum industry.

The Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal was established by AIME in 1932 and is awarded for distinguished administrative achievement in mining, metallurgical, or petroleum industry administration marked by leadership, ethical conduct, and support of innovation or administrative changes at senior management levels resulting in positive outcomes. Rand was AIME president in 1913.

The DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal recognizes outstanding service to SPE, the profession of engineering and geology, and to the petroleum industry. Everette Lee DeGolyer was a storied wildcatter. He did early work in the field of geophysics as it applied to the petroleum industry, introducing the torsion balance as an oil exploration tool and the use of both refraction and reflection seismographs for oil exploration. He organized Amerada Petroleum Corporation in 1919 and also organized Geophysical Research Corporation as an Amerada subsidiary. He became the first petroleum president of AIME in 1927.

The Robert Earll McConnell Award, established in 1968, recognizes beneficial service to mankind by engineers through significant contributions that advance a nation’s standard of living or replenish its natural resources. Robert Earll McConnell was a member of AIME and a prominent mining engineer.

Finally, SPE also gives AIME’s Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award once every 4 years to the best paper by a member under 35. It will be given next at SPE’s 2019 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition banquet.

Looking forward, and casting a wider net externally, AIME’s External Affairs Committee is conducting a review of AIME’s participation in external awards programs with a view toward more effectively promoting member society candidates for such recognition. The members of the task force held two meetings, and a preliminary auditing and inventory of all the external awards AIME might reasonably influence have been completed.

One of the most exciting activities of the External Affairs Committee is the AIME Council of Excellence, a member societies collaborative work focused on identifying technologies (mature, and/or leading edge) that might have innovative application within AIME-member industries. Proposed applications or case histories of technology transfer applications may be shared through joint technical articles in all of the four societies’ technical journals, applied technology workshops, and conference panel sessions. If you have an idea for new and innovative utilization of longstanding oil and gas technologies in other extractive industries, or about the feasibility of application of crossover technology in the oil and gas industry, contact your SPE Council representatives, Behrooz ­Fattahi (chair) or members Ford Brett and ­Khalid Aziz.

Finally, we wanted to update you on another multisociety sustainability event that AIME is helping to facilitate. In February 2017, AIME and its partner societies will hold the third in the series of symposia for Engineering Solutions for Sustainability: Materials and Resources. This installment has a theme of “Toward a Circular Economy” and will explore the interdependent roles each sector of the various industries play in bringing about a sustainable future. The outcome of the event will be a vision for and roadmap to a sustainable world where affordable and reliable resources support the social, economic, and environmental needs of a growing population. The symposium will take place in Denver, Colorado, immediately preceding the SME annual meeting and will include speakers from a wide cross-section of industries, as well as representatives from government, academia, consultancies, and professional societies. Further information on this symposium can be found here.


Donnelly, J. 2007. SPE’s Parent Achieved Its Own Lasting Legacy. J Pet Tech 59 (10): 54–56.

Fattahi, B. and Lawrie-Munro, M. 2013. AIME, SPE’s Parent Organization. J Pet Tech 65 (6): 135.

The authors of this article currently serve on the AIME Board of Trustees. If you have any questions or have feedback related to any of the activities described herein, please contact either Kate Hadley Baker or Roland Moreau.