Founding and First Meeting
PFMA was formally organized in 1953 as the Pennsylvania Association of Institutional Engineers (PAIE). Thomas Kneen, Engineer-in Charge and Professor Elmer Queer of the Penn State Advisory Service formed the organization along with the Welfare Department, the Health Department, the Department of Public Instruction (State Normal Schools and other schools) and the Department of Justice.
The first meeting of the organization appears to have actually occurred in 1952 with an Engineer’s Conference in State College. The “Award Banquet for Institutional Engineers and Laundrymen” was held in the basement of the Presbyterian Church on Beaver Avenue in State College. The conferences were centered on the institutional power plants. Penn State would go to each power plant across the state throughout the year and grade the plant not only on production efficiency, but the cooperation, teamwork, and attitude of everyone from “the front office all the way down to the ash puller.” Institutions that received a 90% or higher ranking received Honor Roll status. Eric Walker (founder of ARL, friend of Dwight Eisenhower, Dean of the College of Engineering and later Penn State President) attended that banquet. These awards continued into the 1960’s.