The Affiliate Societies Council of Dayton*

5100 Springfield St. Suite 108, Dayton, Ohio 45431-1274
937-224-8513, Email

Historical Perspective


Dr. Robert E. Fontana, Professor of Electrical Engineering,

Air Force Institute of Technology

In collaboration with past Chairmen of ASC

 This history has been prepared to record the many actions leading to formation and growth of the Engineering and Science Foundation of Dayton and the Affiliate Societies Council. It is based on information drawn from many sources including: The results of studies leading to approval of the basic concept, brochures and supporting documentation used during the building fund campaign and subsequent Associate fund contributions, Council and Board of Trustee minutes, Program Plan reports, as well as the personal recollections of many individuals involved in establishing this important capability.

 The concept of forming an Engineering and Science Institute in the Dayton area resulted from discussions conducted during the mid 1960's under the leadership of Charles W. Danis as President of the Engineers Club of Dayton. The results of this study clearly demonstrated the need to create a new and vital engineering and science complex for the practicing engineer, scientist and technical professional. It was decided that the proposed Engineering and Science Foundation was incorporated as an Education and Philanthropic Organization in July 1966. As such, it was tax exempt and gifts and bequests made to the Foundation were deductible for tax purposes.

 The purpose of this organization was to develop a program of continuing education studies designed to enable practicing engineers, scientists and technologists to pursue a coherent sequence of courses to maintain and enhance a high degree of competence in their professional fields. The goal was to shorten the time lag between discovery and application of new knowledge by providing courses tailored to professional practice and at affordable costs. With the rapid pace of new technology development and increasing international competition, there was growing realization that learning was becoming a life long process wherein the practitioner was also a student during an entire professional career. An interdisciplinary approach during such studies would be followed with students encouraged to cross discipline boundaries. The program would complement typical college programs. Another purpose was to provide a home for the Technical Societies and their activities through the Affiliate Societies Council. The Council would draw together the many disciplines represented by the Societies while conducting activities for the benefit of the profession and the community. A decision was made to establish a center for continuing education advanced studies and seek financial support from business, industry, foundations, and practicing engineers and scientists to construct a building for these purposes, later named the Eugene W. Kettering Engineering and Science Center.

 It was recognized throughout these discussions that the technical societies and their members would assume a vital role in implementing and maintaining this new capability. they represented the many technical disciplines involved, and through their members were capable of providing the technical expertise for organizing and teaching courses geared to the needs of practicing engineers. They were recognized as a valuable resource in the development of the institute’s educational programs and community services in the various areas of science and technology. The Affiliate Societies Council was formed in 1969 to strengthen and coordinate efforts of the technical societies and establish a close working relationship as part of the Engineering and Science institute. Initial membership included 31 societies with an aggregate of 8,000 local members. Steven Heller, who had been an active participant during the discussions leading to formation of the institute, was elected the first Chairman of the Affiliate Societies Council.

 A vigorous Building Fund Campaign was conducted during 1967 to obtain the financial support of $1,750,000 required to purchase the land and construct the building for housing the Eugene W. Kettering Engineering and Science Center, and to provide operating funds until the program became self-supporting. Business, industry and foundations, as well as individual engineers and scientists, provided generous financial support for establishing this new capability. Business and industry encouraged their employees to contribute as part of their effort. The Institute's planned program was described as “for the benefit of the technical societies and all engineers and scientists in the area.” Further it would provide:

 A center for continuing advanced studies for engineers, scientists and technicians.

 Over 3000 contributors donated funds toward making this concept a reality.

 Steven Marras assumed major responsibilities during the funding campaign, planning, construction and implementation stages as Managing Director for the institute. During the interim period he consulted with industry, business and the technical societies while determining specific course requirements. Working with many volunteers from the technical community, he established plans for education programs including the recruiting of qualified faculty resources from industry, government and academic institutions capable of developing and teaching practical courses with the desired emphasis on professional practice. Through considerable dedicated effort on his part, construction was completed, course requirements established, faculty resources identified and information on course schedules announced throughout the technical community. The Eugene W. Kettering Engineering and Science Center was dedicated during ceremonies on April 28-29, 1971.

 As Managing Director, Mr. Marras worked with the Affiliate Societies Council in meeting requirements for overall support of Council activities. Basic services included the use of Center facilities to house technical society activities, provide societies with a standardized address and telephone number, meeting rooms, telephone answering and information services, mail boxes for receipt of mail, file drawers for society records, secretarial services, preparation of literature and mailings. In addition, the Institute provided funding support for specialized meetings and conferences such as the Professional Development Conference, Leadership Training Workshop, Annual Meeting and a variety of community services such as career guidance and counseling activities and publicizing the activities and achievements of engineers and scientists.

 Good progress was made in meeting the requirement to conduct continuing education directed toward practicing engineers and scientists. As Chairman of the Affiliate Societies Council 1971-1972, David Wells established the Education Committee, chaired by Robert E. Fontana, to determine requirements for continuing education. Special sub-committees were formed for various disciplines to evaluate and recommend courses based on inputs from industry and using organizations. During this period the program for conducting annual Professional Development Conferences was established. They involved participants from business, industry, government, academic institutions and technical societies. Initial workshops were designed to evaluate progress in meeting the needs of practicing engineers and scientists. Results were positive with recommendations to continue technical courses while adding courses designed to improve technical communication, management and manufacturing skills. Despite success in providing desired courses at reasonable cost, the total tuition income was falling far short of expenses to operate the Center. Although the use of classrooms during evening hours was considered satisfactory, use during the daytime was limited. Although various measures were taken to improve efficiency and lease rental space, operating costs continued to exceed income. In the interest of making courses as broadly available as possible, the Board of Trustees and Council decided not to increase tuition. Instead, they sought to supplement the Institute's operating revenues through voluntary Associate contributions. A brochure outlining the mission of the institute's program “to support the technical societies and all engineers and scientists in the area” was distributed to the technical community as an invitation to become an Associate of the Institute through a nominal contribution. It was hoped that the Institute would become self-supporting after the initial growing years of its existence.

 After several years of operation, it became clear that the goal of becoming self-supporting could not be met. The prospect of making frequent requests for contributions from the technical community was not considered desirable. After considerable study the Trustees arrived at a proposal involving leasing the Engineering and Science Center to Wright State University. On January 29, 1974 the Institute entered into an agreement with Wright State University, in which the Institute agreed to lease its facilities to the University. The lease was to become effective on June 1, 1974, for ten years, with monthly rental of $10,394. The University had the option at any time beginning June 1, 1980 and ending May 31, 1984, to purchase the property at the fair market values as submitted by three professional appraisers. The University agreed to assume and continue educational activities of the Institute. For these services the Institute agreed to reimburse the University $85,000 per year during the first three years of the lease and $65,000 per year thereafter. As part of the agreement the name of the Engineering and Science Institute of Dayton was changed to the Engineering and Science Foundation of Dayton on May 21, 1974.

 During the interim period (January 29, 1974 to May 31, 1974) this agreement was discussed during the Annual meeting of the Affiliate Societies Council, in May 1974. As Chairman of the Council, Dr. Fontana invited Dr. Robert J. Kegerreis, President, Wright State University, to discuss the agreement and its impact on Council programs with Council Delegates. Some members expressed concern that Council programs could be diluted and whether the scope and content of continuing education opportunities could remain consistent with the Institute mission under the proposed arrangement. Reassurances were provided at that time of the intent to enhance such programs. Related discussions during the May 20,1974 Board of Trustees meeting provided further reassurance on this subject as follows: ....this Institute was brought into being through the efforts of many people and with money contributed by interested persons and corporations and foundations....the Board developed the mission of the Institute and wished to see the mission perpetuated.. The Board of Trustees Chairman Campbell indicated that there were no further questions concerning the lease or the agreement and the appropriate names were affixed to the lease which became effective on June 1, 1974.

These actions served to establish a sound financial basis for conducting the Foundation's mission. Funding in support of Affiliate Society operations and programs was assured with additional funds remaining for scholarships and proposals from other sources for direct support by the Foundation. Wright State University subsequently purchased the property in 1982 and income from the resulting funds has provided the basis for sustaining these programs. 

 The Council now [1988] includes 55 engineering and science related professional societies with a combined membership in the Dayton area exceeding 15,000. In addition to providing basic Society Services, major programs include:  

Continuing Education which includes a Seminar Sponsorship Program, an Annual Professional Development Conference which organizes workshops on topics of timely interest to the community, and the Dayton Technicalendar which provides the membership timely information on scheduled technical activities.  

Career Guidance is organized to simulate student interest by providing career information in various fields of engineering and science. A conference promotes an interchange between teachers, counselors, industry and societies relative to career opportunities. A Junior Achievement skill symposium is held where professional leaders discuss the functions and provide guidance in organizational work with students. Under this business sponsored practical program, students manage their own companies with the guidance of adult advisors and teachers. They develop an awareness of challenges and responsibilities faced in corporations and an understanding of the American free enterprise business system.  

Engineers and Scientists Week, originally observed and sponsored by the Dayton Society of Professional Engineers as part of the National Engineers Week activities of the National Society of Professional Engineers, provides an opportunity to recognize and publicize the achievements of engineers and scientists in the greater Dayton area. The feature event of the week is the Annual Awards Banquet where outstanding engineers and scientists are honored for important professional achievements and contributions. 

Leadership Training involves a leadership training workshop on “Interpersonal Dynamics.” This program acquaints professional engineers and engineering students with useful interpersonal skills and brings engineers and students together in an environment that stimulates their growth.  

The current Affiliate Societies Council 87-88 budget approved by the Foundation is $64,525. Aside from the salaries for a part time director and office secretary, all programs are conducted without compensation. Many dedicated professionals devote considerable personal time and effort to the programs outlined above. Except for the Annual Awards Banquet during Engineers and Scientists Week and the Leadership Training Workshop, many activities by their nature and audience are not likely to produce income. Participants in such programs involve high school teachers, counselors, students and volunteers. They are capable of providing great dividends in terms of approaches for resolving critical issues and deficiencies in our educational system. The Affiliate Societies Council and its programs through its support from the Foundation represents a nationally unique capability which brings the technical societies together while addressing areas of common interest of great benefit to the profession and community.  

Although the basic mission of developing a program of continuing education courses geared to the needs of the practicing engineer is not being met directly by the Foundation, the Council, through its workshops is exerting a strong positive influence on the quality of education at all levels within the community by identifying continuing education requirements from industry and other users and communicating these needs to educational institutions. The Council has organized a series of professional development workshops where representatives from industry, educational institutions, government and school systems interact on critical educational problems facing the nation. Quality of education, curriculum requirements in meeting the needs of industry, faculty development, productivity, creativity, maintaining the nations competitiveness in world markets, represent typical topics of timely interest. Many of our individual Technical Societies have assumed a leadership role by providing practical tutorials on emerging areas of technology in conjunction with their professional conferences. For example, the Dayton Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has conducted one day tutorials as part of the National Aerospace and Electronics conference during the past ten years at affordable costs. Timely topics in recent years have included embedded computer applications, software engineering, logic design, artificial intelligence/expert systems, modern control applications, information systems and fiber optic communications. They are designed specifically hr the practicing engineer and include class notes prepared by experts in their field. Many other societies are involved in similar activities.  

Many members of the Council have contributed to the success of the programs. A few including some Past Chairmen, Officers and Committee Chairmen, have consistently devoted great time and effort while conducting Council activities such as organizing conferences, planning meetings, engineers week activities, special studies, recruiting volunteers, career guidance, leadership training and administrative responsibilities. One individual who stands out as a major contributor to the Council throughout its existence is E. N. “AI” Ipiotis. In addition to serving in all the areas mentioned above, he personally was able to attract participation of Chief Engineers, Senior Executives, School Officials, Deans and Department Heads in many council activities. His creative approach in establishing important new capabilities consistent with the Council mission and managing programs served to stimulate the growth and integrity of the entire effort.  

The several chairpersons who have perpetuated and continued the Affiliate Societies Council, and the years of their service are listed below.    


Steven Heller



Robert Laumann


Robert Wells



Dr. Robert Fontana


Jim Childress



E. N. “AI” Ipiotis


George Schmidt, Jr



Richard Thompson


Carl Blau



Betty J. Yost, P.E.


Howard F. Wolfe, P.E.



Clark E. Beck, P.E.

     [published in ASC Technicalendar, ~spring 1989]