Landmarks Criteria

The following questions offer a guide to the criteria for approval of a landmark nomination by ASME's History and Heritage Committee. (Nominators please note that in preparing a nomination, you must conform to the enumeration on the form NOT the criteria list.) To review the criteria, click on each item for a fuller explanation provided below.

Criteria Explained

Is the work an example of mechanical engineering?

The work must be an example of mechanical engineering, and the nomination must clearly identify the mechanical engineering content that is being nominated. When the work is a mechanical engineering artifact such as a machine or engine this may be obvious, but often the mechanical engineering content will be part of a larger entity. In such cases, the mechanical engineering work must be clearly identified in the nomination and, if designated, will be part of the entity that is so recognized.

Is the work:

  • An artifact(s) that was (or could have been) conceived, designed, developed, or constructed by a mechanical engineer(s)? Examples are an engine, a machine, a mechanism, a major mechanical feature of a larger work, without which the larger work would not be recognizable and could not perform its intended function (e.g., the engines of a ship), a pressure vessel.The work need not have been conceived, designed, developed, or constructed by a person who meets the contemporary definition of a mechanical engineer, but the work itself must be a mechanical engineering work. In other words, the work must be something that an ASME member might have invented, designed, developed, or constructed.
  • A body of knowledge, analytical tool or code of practice developed or produced primarily by a mechanical engineer(s) for use primarily by mechanical engineers? Examples are the ASME Boiler Code, steam tables, a computer program for predicting the kinematics of mechanisms. The Committee believes that recognition of the development of the tools of the mechanical engineering profession is important, because it makes mechanical engineers aware of their technological heritage. Note, however, that the Committee places high weight on the landmark being a tangible, physical entity, and this may be difficult to identify in the area of tools and practice. But an early ASME Boiler Code book has been landmarked, so there is opportunity.
  • A place of historic significance to the practice and profession of mechanical engineering. Examples are: a place of mechanical engineering invention or discovery, a laboratory where significant mechanical engineering data were developed, a factory where significant mechanical technology was employed, a place where a famous engineer lived or practiced. The Committee believes that we need to recognize the significant heroes and locales of our profession, so that we show the human face of mechanical engineering. Sites have been and may be nominated as landmarks, but must be of major significance to be accepted. The reason is that a site is less tangible evidence of mechanical engineering than an actual artifact, and so must be relatively more significant to satisfy the choice of one site more than another.

Does the work represent a significant step in the history of mechanical engineering? Much mechanical engineering is evolutionary, where one work builds on the technology by a prior work. What the Committee looks for here are such steps as the breakthrough idea, the unique concept, the first use of a synergy of technologies, the quantum leap in size, performance, efficiency, and so on. The nomination must identify why the work has special mechanical engineering significance.

Did the work make a contribution to the development of humanity in general and the profession and/or practice of mechanical engineering in particular?Most mechanical engineering work has made a positive contribution to the world in which we live. The nomination must show the contribution of the work to humanity and/or mechanical engineering; if there is little or none there is no justification for the landmark recognition. A military work (e.g., weaponry) will be considered, but only in the strict context of its contribution to the advancement of mechanical engineering.

What makes this proposed work unique or distinctive? Why should this work be the designated work? There are frequently several examples of the work that still exist. In such cases, the landmark nomination needs to identify the other examples and clearly justify why this specific work should receive the recognition. In a case where there is more than one known example of the work, the Committee judges whether the nominated work is the one to be designated. Many factors are weighed, but the following preferences are among those that are used to select one example over the other:

  • the older will be preferred over the newer
  • the intact over the partial
  • the original over a replica or restoration
  • the tangible example over the more abstract
  • the one more representative of the operational state (but not necessarily operational) over the lesser
  • the accessible over the inaccessible

Note particularly that if one example has already been recognized as an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the Committee will not accept a second example as a landmark — even if it meets the preferences above — unless the nomination gives compelling reasons why it should do so. Note also that the fact that the other example is in a different geographic area is not a compelling reason.

The Committee is more interested in recognizing mechanical engineering work that has not received prior historical recognition, since this gives the owner of the unrecognized work an awareness of its historical worth and may increase the likelihood that work will be preserved.

Will designating this as a historic mechanical engineering work:
a) Enhance the public's understanding of the role of mechanical engineers in society, and/or
b) Celebrate and enhance the profession of mechanical engineering in general, and ASME in particular?

Major aims of the Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks Program are to inform the public of the contribution of mechanical engineers to society and to make mechanical engineers more aware of their heritage. The work will be judged on how well it meets these goals. Landmarked works should make members of ASME proud that mechanical engineering was involved.

Has sufficient time elapsed to make an objective judgment that the work has lasting value?The Committee needs to be sure that the work is significant and of lasting value to the profession of mechanical engineering.

Is this work accessible to mechanical engineers, historians, and/or the public? To have impact and raise awareness of the achievements of mechanical engineering, a landmarked work must be accessible to as many people as possible. The Committee puts weight on the tangibility, visibility, and accessibility of landmarks. A place where there is now little or no evidence of a work will probably not be recognized.

Has this work already been recognized for historic mechanical engineering significance by another professional engineering society or historical organization? Would ASME's designation add important value to the existing recognition? The Committee acknowledges that there are other engineering societies, for example SAE and ASHRAE, and a number of historical organizations that recognize work for its historical mechanical content. If the work already has been so recognized, the Committee will not consider ASME designation unless it is for significant, unrecognized historic mechanical engineering content, or if there is some compelling reason why ASME's designation would add important value to the existing recognition.

Note in particular that a mechanical engineering work in a museum containing other mechanical engineering works must be extremely significant to be singled out for designation. Also some museums may not permit a specific work to be identified by an ASME plaque, and this needs to be checked out before the nomination is submitted and/or the designation made.

If the work has not been recognized and has more engineering content than just mechanical, a joint recognition with other appropriate engineering societies is encouraged and should be proposed.