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Early in 1880, four Cleveland engineers campaigned for the acceptance of separate and conflicting concepts. These men were debating the validity of ideas concerning the Great Pyramid of Gizeh and the Metric System.
The group attached mystic and religious significance to the endurance of the pyramid, but also opposed the introduction of the Metric System into America. Led by Charles Latimer, chief engineer of The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, the group formed the Anti-Metric Society. Conversely, Clarence H. Burgess, county surveyor; Walter P. Rice, assistant U.S. engineer; and Hosea Paul, civil engineer, were advocates of the Metric system and were also interested in consorting with people of similar beliefs.
Soon, the differing opinions of these men were overshadowed by a common desire: to form a permanent engineering society in Cleveland. The first meeting of the Civil Engineers Club of Cleveland was held on March 27, 1880 in the Case Library Board of Education room. In 1908, with a diverse membership of more than 200 Cleveland engineers, the group officially changed its name to the Cleveland Engineering Society (CES).
Sixty professionals were charter members of the organization. Charles Paine, the Society's first president, defined the purpose of the club in his acceptance speech: "This club should be the means of giving us more thorough knowledge of the details and problems presented...and by publication of deserving papers in technical journals. We ought to contribute our share to the instruction of those from whose similar efforts we learn so much."
In 1958, CES officially cut the ribbon to its own facility at 3100 Chester Avenue. The center has been host to hundreds of events and programs throughout the years. In the early 1990s, Cleveland State University purchased the building, renaming it The Joseph E. Cole Center. The CES office is still housed in the facility, and its events and programs are held throughout Greater Cleveland.
The first committees were created during the inaugural meeting of the Civil Engineers Club of Cleveland. The library and program committees were the first of some 30 standing and civic committees established. In 1926, the Consulting Engineers Division became the Society's first special interest group. Today the general planning of CES is initiated by four operational committees: marketing, executive, membership development, and education. In addition, eight divisions address the specialized interests of various segments of the membership: Young Professionals, Senior, Management of Technology (MoT), Design and Construction, Energy, Environmental, Healthcare Engineers Facility Managers, and Information Technology.
Over the years, engineering has combined the analysis of human, financial and materials problems to provide successful solutions with predictable, economic results. Members of CES who have contributed to these solutions have attributed their success partly to the forum CES provides, which has allowed them to network and exchange ideas and information with peers.