Alexander Lyman Holley

It is neither magic nor alchemy, but straightforward inductive reasoning and downright patient, organised, costly work that lays open the great unknown…..

“The Bessemer Process” The New York Times, August 9, 1868

The words above are from an 1868 news article describing a truly revolutionary method for mass-producing steel.  Looking back, the author might as well have been describing the practice of engineering itself. As the first Industrial Revolution drew to a close, very few people understood engineering, let alone the importance of the engineer.  But one man — Alexander Lyman Holley — knew there was incredible potential still waiting to be tapped in technology and our profession. Alexander Holley came to prominence just as the world was transitioning from textiles, iron, and steam power to steel, railroads, petroleum and chemicals, and later, electricity.  His early experience in locomotive design prepared him for a brilliant and prolific engineering career focused on steel production and plant design.  By 1864, Holley had secured the rights to bring high-quality, cost-effective Bessemer steel to the U.S.  Doing so was a game-changer for the second wave of industrialization. Long before Superman emerged in popular culture, Holley — an engineer's engineer — was America's first "Man of Steel."  He designed 11 of America's first 13 Bessemer-process steel plants, and his mills provided the raw material for the bridges, railways, skyscrapers, and naval ships that would signal to the world that the United States was a global superpower. Every engineer makes an impact with his life’s work.  Very few, like Alexander Holley, truly leave a legacy for generations to come.

But Alexander Holley knew it would take more than cheap steel to drive engineering forward.  America needed a strong fraternity of engineers and scientists to overcome the challenges of the modern age. Holley's vision of collaboration and knowledge sharing for the greater good inspired him to help found the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1880.  In the generations since, ASME has become the premier professional organization for engineers, currently serving more than 140,000 members in 151 countries.

Today, ASME honors Alexander Holley by having a truly global presence and impact.  With support from members like you, we build on his legacy to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines.  We lead the way for engineers worldwide.

When ASME Foundation launched the Alexander Holley Society in 2011, there was only a handful of members.  Today, although our ranks have grown, the Holley Society remains a very exclusive group with monumental impact.  (Last year, Alexander Holley Society donors like you were the Foundation's "Top 1%" of givers, yet provided almost 14% of our total annual support!)

As leaders in the field of engineering and as philanthropists, ASME Foundation donors provide the resources we need to address humanitarian quality-of-life issues on a truly global scale. Join us, and Alexander Holley