History of AFE
The Association of Facilities Engineers (AFE) was founded in 1954 as the American Institute of Plant Engineers (AIPE) by Richard Morris, Sig Simonson, and Theodore Ramond as a national organization to unify the assortment of plant engineer clubs already organized.
The AIPE was created to:
- further the professional interests of the plant engineer;
- foster the developments of this specialized branch of engineering in the Western Hemisphere; and
- cooperate throughout the world with compatible organizations having similar objectives and concerned with exercising responsible supervision over the design, layout, construction, maintenance, operation and/or control of fixed or mobile industrial plants or facilities.
The AIPE held its first meeting in January of 1955 with delegates from 19 charter chapters representing over 500 paid members. With the acceptance of the Montreal, Canada Chapter in 1956, AIPE quickly became an international organization.
During the 1960s, AIPE experienced chapter development, and greater activism. In November 1961 AIPE presented a national charter to a U.S. Department of Defense Chapter. This chapter's membership was composed of personnel from the Department of Defense, Air Force, Army, and Navy. In '62, a Foreign Affairs Committee was appointed, with help from engineers from England and Australia, and a chapter in Athens, Greece was chartered.
By the end of the decade, the association had:
- worked with the U.S. State Department in promoting the exchange of technical information;
- cooperated with the Technical Division of the United Nations in improving plant engineering techniques in the developing nations in Asia, Africa and South America;
- successfully sponsored the low-cost "Europe in '66" study/tour and had begun sponsoring the "Japan in '70" study/tour
- featured an article about industrial water pollution by member-at-large Herbert F. Lund Sr. in their publication, and
- seen Mr. Lund, who had become chair of the AIPE National Pollution Committee, be present as a guest at the White House when President Johnson signed into law The Air Quality Act of 1967.
The 1970s was AIPE's decade of international expansion and exchange (Great Britain, Thailand), continued concern about the environment, and unprecedented discussion about using computers to control preventive maintenance.
A new program to certify plant engineers, instituted in November 1975, was accessed by 400 professionals its first year. This flagship program, Certified Plant Engineer (CPE), which now resides on the Internet, establishes the association as a standard bearer internationally, setting the bar for all the knowledge and skillsets needed for that position.
During the 1990s, as business, manufacturing and technology sectors underwent great change, the AIPE's research showed their members' job titles were changing. By the mid-nineties, only 28% of members described themselves as plant engineers; 72% described themselves as facilities engineers or managers. In response to this changing landscape, in November 1995, the American Institute of Plant Engineers renamed itself the Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE).
In 1998 AFE launched the Certified Plant Maintenance Manager credential program (CPMM), which defines standards of competence for industrial, commercial and institutional maintenance management. This was popular from the start, and remains so today.
In early 2000, articles from AFE's journal were reprinted in magazines based in Spain and Singapore. The organization's journal articles and conference sessions focused heavily on new uses of technology to improve the facilities professional's efficiency.
In 2003, AFE adopted its new (and current) mission statement. With the most recent addition of a new Certified Plant Supervisor program in 2003, the AFE distinguished itself as the only (U.S.) engineering association that spans across all core competencies for certification and recertification. By far the highlight of 2004 was celebration of AFE's 50th anniversary. The association's golden anniversary was celebrated in a myriad of events culminating in the Annual meeting in Florida. In 2005 AFE launched an initiative to support a chapter in Mexico, and an agreement to offer its certification programs to the Korea Institute of Plant Engineering and Construction. In the fall, the AFE Foundation began accepting donations to be used for assistance to people affected by Hurricane Katrina.
During this time the organization empowered its members and reinforced its international presence by making more information accessible on its web site. Our Professional Development Department began presenting "webinars" — seminars conducted via the worldwide web. These popular one-hour sessions enabled people to learn about important facilities topics from the convenience of their own workplaces. AFE has also leveraged the web for virtual chats and an e-journal as well as asynchronous (individualized self-paced) learning in a large range of skillsets including technology, business administration, accounting, languages, and sales & marketing.
Following the 50th anniversary celebration, AFE's Board of directors looked again at how the association was holding its place in the facilities engineering world, and the association world in general. After careful analysis it was agreed that AFE needed an overhaul, including a new focus on greater growth in membership, services, and influence.
In 2006, under the guidance of a new Board and a new Executive Director, AFE initiated a taskforce to review the impact of the current governance structure. The findings recommended that the organization become less cumbersome in management decision making, and be more customer (member) focused in all activities.
By-law changes to the AFE structure followed that downsized the Board from 19 members to 9 and created a dynamic committee structure to fit the volunteer leadership. A shift was made to create an organization where the membership was key to the decision making process, pushing the strength of the organization down to the chapter and grassroots levels.
In its aim to increase influence in the facilities marketplace, the organization moved it's headquarters to the Washington DC area, allowing AFE to work side by side with the leaders of business and government in the facilities arena.
The development of new and better services and programs has allowed AFE to grow its membership through 2007/8 and has re-installed a faith in the membership that AFE is the GO-TO organization both nationally and internationally for facilities technical training, education, and information exchange.