ASK OCE — June 21, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 4
The History of U.S. Engineering Standards
The movement to unify and strengthen U.S. standards is hardly new — a voluntary standards system has been in existence for nearly ninety years.
The standards movement was originally founded as the American Engineering Standards Committee (AESC) on October 19, 1918. Its mission was to serve as the unified, national coordinator in the standards development process and to serve as an impartial organization to approve national consensus standards. The AESC came about through the collaboration of The American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE
), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME
), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE
), American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIMME
), and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM
These five professional groups established a national body to coordinate and advocate for standards development and to serve as a resource for the work of standards developing agencies. The five organizations invited the U.S. Departments of War, Navy, and Commerce to join them as founders.
A year after AESC was founded, the first standards were agreed upon for pipe threads. In 1920, the organization undertook a major initiative when it approved the first American Standard Safety Code, which it approved in 1921. Over the following decade, AESC also approved national standards in the fields of mining, electrical and mechanical engineering, construction and highway traffic.
When the United States went to war in 1941, the AESC (now renamed the American Standards Association, or ASA) instituted a War Standards Procedure to accelerate development and approval of new and revised standards needed to increase industrial efficiency for war production.
In the 1950s and 1960s, ASA helped industry and government anticipate and develop standards needs in highly technical fields such as nuclear energy, information technology, material handling, and electronics.
In 1969, ASA was renamed the American National Standards Institute (ANSI
). Today, the U.S. voluntary standardization system is recognized as one of the most effective and efficient standards systems in the world today.